Flint (Michigan) City Council Said Yes to Prayers at Meetings, and the Very First One Was Illegal

The last time we talked about the Flint, Michigan City Council, officials there were considering spreading Scientology in order to save the city. Not their fault. Someone made a proposal, so they were obligated to hear it even if they didn’t act on it.

On Monday night, though, the bad ideas were entirely their own.

Flint City Council. Council member Jackie Poplar is in the bottom row, second from the left.

Their attorney, Peter Bade, told them they were allowed to have invocations at meeting provided that (1) they didn’t say the prayers themselves and (2) that anyone who wanted to could deliver them. That’s all true, even if we don’t like it.

So what did the council do with that information?

Hours later, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Jackie Poplar led the council in a prayer, asking God to “bless the city of Flint in a mighty way,” even though Bade had suggested council members should not themselves “offer, lead or otherwise encourage prayer.”

Bade’s opinion says the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed prayer in city council meetings elsewhere when the person praying was not a member of council, but Poplar called that suggestion “poppycock.”

“If the spirit leads me to say a prayer for this broke-down city … then I’m going to say a prayer,” she said. “You can arrest me. … This city needs prayer 24-7.”

Actually, Flint needs city council members who know how to take real action instead of asking their imaginary friend for help…

And while no one’s going to arrest Poplar, the city could easily be sued if Poplar continues defying the law. The one thing Flint doesn’t need right now is reason to throw away money it could be using to help residents. Poplar doesn’t seem to give a damn about the people she represents and she wasn’t elected to be their pastor.

You know… the Satanic Temple has a chapter in Detroit… that’s only an hour away. I’m sure they have a member or two in Flint who would *love* to deliver some of these invocations.

Ditto with CFI-Michigan which has members in Flint.

I’ve reached out to both groups to see if they’ll be signing up to deliver a prayer.

If that happens, we’ll have Poplar and the other city council members to thank. They’re so insistent on using city time to honor a God, I’m sure they won’t mind if it’s Satan or Nobody or any non-Christian God for that matter.

***Update***: The Satanic Temple’s Lucien Greaves issued this statement in response to my question:

Flint has consistently been one of the most dangerous cities in modern American history. The city has real problems that demand tangible solutions, so it isn’t particularly heartening to see no less than one of its own council members resigned to labeling Flint a “broke-down city,” while offering no better a proposed solution than “prayer 24-7.”

And now, thanks to city attorney Peter Bade, who has green-lighted prayers inside City Hall, Flint residents can all sleep less easily, assured that delusional council members like Jackie Poplar (responsible for the quotes above) can spend her time, and the city’s time — 24-7! — babbling to imaginary forces in hopes that they’ll intervene on Flint’s behalf.

At least the Council claims to recognize the need to “establish a process of affording all religions an equal and fair opportunity to present the opening prayer,” and recognizes that they “would expose [themselves to] liability if this process unfairly excluded any religion.” Hopefully, if religious officiants offer themselves to lead the opening prayers, the Flint City Council may see fit to spend their own time trying to manage the city’s problems.

Fortunately, The Satanic Temple has a strong presence in Michigan, and chances are better than good that representatives of ours will be willing to take the burden of constructing religiously motivated opening words off the shoulders of the council members on a regular basis. We’re willing to do whatever it takes to help. I think government agencies are finally beginning to realize: when they simply must have religious representation in the public square, they can count on The Satanic Temple.

(Thanks to David for the link)

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