Alabama Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh (yep) recently introduced her friend and Tea Party member John Jordan at a meeting so he could deliver an invocation prayer:
You know how some invocations cross the line?
Well, Jordan made sure no one could even see the line after he was done.
First, he asked everyone in the audience to raise their hands if they believed in prayer.
Then he asked them if God answers prayers.
Then he asked them if they needed prayer.
Because that’s how they roll before discussing regulatory issues regarding power.
Jordan went on:
“… God, we’ve taken you out of our schools. We’ve taken you out of our prayers. We’ve murdered your children. We’ve said it’s okay to have same-sex marriage, God. We have sinned and we ask once again that you forgive us for our sins.”
… the hell?! How is that *ever* okay at a government meeting?
Cavanaugh, not surprisingly, defends Jordan, showing all of us why she’s completely unfit for public office:
“My Christian faith guides me in everything that I do, and I’m proud that the Alabama Public Service Commission opens each meeting seeking His divine guidance and thanking God for the blessings He has given us,” she writes. “I make no apologies as a Christian elected into public service by the people of Alabama. Without a doubt, our nation needs more prayer, not less.“
Looks like Twinkle is far from enlightened.
Reporter John Archibald was at the meeting and, while he was shocked by the prayer, he figures this is all just a big distraction to take attention away from how the commission is screwing the residents of the state:
And people are looking around [during the prayer], wondering if we might have taken this thing too far, and all I can think as I pray for an “amen” is that the Greatest Show on Earth is not under the big top at all. It is here. In Montgomery. In an ugly David Bronner building.
Cavanaugh knows, and Alabama Power knows, that most Alabamians will raise their hand for prayer every time. Most, when asked, will choose jobs over trees. And most, if they don’t know what to think, will find their answers to the right.
It is strategy, nothing more. A good, time-honored strategy.
Which is the best reason to remember what these hearings are about.
They are about Alabama Power’s rate structure. Period. It is a structure — though debated to near incomprehension at these hearings — that is high for residential customers and low for industry. It allows the company to write off an $8 million salary for CEO Charles McCrary as Operations and Maintenance, at a government-regulated monopoly.
Simon Brown at Americans United for Separation of Church and State adds:
… Americans United doesn’t take a stand on how power companies are regulated. What we can tell you, though, is that Cavanaugh is showing an obvious favoritism toward Christianity, and that is neither appropriate for her position nor is it constitutional.
Americans United will be arguing a case this fall before the U.S. Supreme Court that may decide the limits of prayer before government meetings, but regardless of how that turns out, elected officials like Cavanaugh need to remember that they weren’t put into office to be pastors and that they serve a diverse constituency — even in a place like Alabama.
No one’s telling Cavanaugh she can’t be Christian. All we’re saying is that she should be doing the job she was elected to do instead of using her position as a personal pulpit.
No word yet on whether any lawsuits will be filed against Cavanaugh or the state.