Note to Wichita: There’s No Prayer at City Council Meetings July 21, 2010

Note to Wichita: There’s No Prayer at City Council Meetings

Vickie Sandell Stangl, the president of the Great Plains (Kansas) Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, gave a godless invocation before a meeting of the Wichita City Council recently.

Believe it or not, some council members weren’t happy about it

Council member Sue Schlapp later blessed the meeting since the invocation didn’t. And people who oppose prayers during city business meetings and council members debated the issue during the public comment period a few minutes later.

“We do open the invocation up to all,” Council member Lavonta Williams said. “I don’t think it’s just for us that we’re asking for in the prayers. I think that we’re asking that this day be blessed as well. I for one would like to continue to be blessed before our meeting.

Council member Paul Gray said all societies have religion and that it has a place in public life. As he spoke, Sandell Stangl approached the podium to respond. Gray preempted that, saying: “And, ma’am, this is not an open debate.”

Gray’s right: It’s not an open debate. It’s settled law. There can be no government endorsement of religion.

It’s a tough order to vote them all out of office, but in the meantime, The Wichita Eagle has a poll for you to crash. And since PZ is on strike, we should take charge:

As I write this, the Yes and No votes are virtually the same.

Go make me proud!

(Thanks to Jon for the link!)

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  • Charming. They can’t even be civil for a single godless invocation without getting all huffy. And we’re the “aggressive” ones.

  • Troglodyke

    When I voted just now, the “nos” were ahead.

    This kind of thing will continue as long as people don’t stand and say something. Thank you, Vickie, for having the courage to stand up.

  • Bob

    So if Councilwoman Williams isn’t blessed, she can’t do her job? There’s some kind of insidious creeping evil lurking within council chambers, just waiting to consume the souls of the non-blessed?

  • I noticed in the discussion underneath it that they were stating that America was founded on Christian principles and promises… I <3 bigots who know nothing about history.

    Anyways, when I voted, the "No"s were ahead by a healthy 30% (200ish votes out of 400). 🙂 Stand up for freedom of (From) religion!

  • More to the point, if she really needs to be blessed for her not to feel her day will go astray, why doesn’t she pass by her own house of worship beforehand, have her pastor or preacher or priest bless her worried little head and let her be right as rain! I mean, its not as if she’s only doing it as a public display of one-upgodship, is it? [/sarcasm]

  • muggle

    Cafeeine, because that would make too much sense but then I think it has more to do with the public display than genuine sincerity.

    Voted no from work, will vote no from home later. Noes ahead by a sizeable lead now.

  • Christophe Thill

    Seems to me there’s a big confusion about what “public life” means. Yes, religion does exist, it can manifest itself publicly, doesn’t have to be kept secret, and believers have nothing to fear if they are publicly identified as such. But on the other hand “in all things regarding the State [ie politics in the broadest sense], religion is a private affair”. Carry a cross around your neck and distribute religious tracts if you wish, but there’s no place for prayer or blessings or invocations or incantations in a city council, or in the working of any public administration.

  • Fett101

    I’d love to see someone lead a prayer for Satan at some of the various city council meetings. Not just to test the “invocations” being “open to all” but simply for the sheer fun of it.

  • Bob

    Funny how that whole, “When you pray, do not pray IN PUBLIC like the hypocrites do, but instead, go to your room and pray in secret …” part of the gospel gets ignored.

  • Well, when I just voted (had to use the text link, not the image) the voting was 75% No–i.e., there is no place for prayer in these meetings–vs. 23% yes. So if you haven’t voted, please do.

  • up to 76% no!

  • Ron in Houston


    Yeah, that’s always amazed me too.

  • Nerdette

    I voted, but I wonder how long the nays will stay on top. I only opened the Wichita Eagle once when I went home for two weeks, and I put it down after feeling queasy. I recall when people used to complain about the Eagle being a “dirty liberal” paper. I guess the ultra-conservatives of Kansas finally overran it.

  • Nicole

    I voted, but I have the sneaking suspicion the results will either by ignored or they’ll decry dirty godless heathen pranks.


  • Anonyman

    This one
    looks a lot worse. 73% say that prayer should continue.

  • Dianne Love

    78% no!

  • plutosdad

    Save this so you can pull it out whenever christians lie about the real purpose of the “open to everyone invocation” they say they want. Such mendacity, and people wonder why hate the churches so much. Damned liars.

    Sorry but dishonesty is one of those things that really bothers me. When they say prayer isn’t really to Jesus or God or a god, they don’t mean it. At least we know the Witchita council doesn’t mean what they say.

    Oh well, at least they’ve already received their reward.

  • Hangnail

    It’s sad to see scienceblogs going down the drain like this. I feel like I have a big science shaped hole in my brain that needs to be filled now. Hemant, promise me that you will blog for many years to come! And yes, we may not be able to phrangulate that poll, but I think we are doing a good job Hermanting it….

  • Bob

    So we can conclude …

    God is like Dracula: He can only be present if invited in.

    God is like Uri Geller: His powers don’t work in the presence of skeptics.

    God is like Jiminy Cricket: Without His Guidance, you’re destined to be an irresponsible jackass.

  • OneHandClapping

    This poll, linked above as well, is easy to “help.” Vote, clear recent history, refresh, vote again! Rinse and repeat.

  • fiddler

    The no is at 81% now =-)

  • I love crashing internet polls!

  • OneHandClapping

    The one that I and Anonyman linked is still in need of some reality checking. We’re sitting at 50%, but started at 20%, so we’re making headway! We just need a few more people to vote, clear cache, refresh, vote again, repeat ad nauseum.

  • MissAJ

    Nice work so far! ^^

    Yes 16.7% (259 votes)
    No 81.5% (1,267 votes)
    I don’t care 1.8% (28 votes)

  • Stephen P

    Judging by the speed (or lack of it) of your servers at the moment, I think that half of Pharyngula has arrived! Oh well, it’s an ill wind and all that …

  • People can pray all they want at any government function, provided they do so silently. Aside from that, religion has no place at government functions.

  • japanther


    2nd poll needs help, 50/50% currently. I even tried to clear browsing history etc.. and voted 2 extra times, but it didn’t seem to take. Come on you pharyngulators, we know you are out there.


  • “The presiding officer shall announce the invocation to be given by a member of a rotating panel invited for such purposes from all the religious faiths in the community.”

    I can’t believe there isn’t at least one Pastafarian living in Wichita.

  • Marella

    Well I’m from Pharyngula and I have voted in both polls. I’m not sufficiently tech savvy to do more than that however, sorry.

  • Susan Robinson

    First poll appears pharyngulated.
    Second poll still needs votes.

    Sorry I don’t know how to post link.

  • Sarah

    I grew up in Wichita and I’m glad to see the Atheists are getting some press! It’s a very religious place. =(

    Go Wichita Atheists!

  • Dan W

    Well, the poll seems successfully crashed. But then again, I just came here from PZ’s twitter page, where this particular post of Hemant’s has been linked. So I bet some of the Pharyngula horde has passed through here to crash the poll.

  • I made you proud. As I just voted, the NO is at 82%

  • Colin

    82% No. I forgot how fun this was!

    I just love the idea of the little old conservative ladies, reading their tiny little conservative newspaper, being confronted by the fact that no, not everyone happens to agree with your viewpoint!

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