For 170 years now, the Wanganui District Council and its predecessors in New Zealand have been saying a prayer at meetings. Since 2004, the prayer went something like this:
Eternal God, source of all wisdom; As we reflect upon all those good things that we enjoy in this city and district, help us to make and keep our community a good place to be for all who live and work here.
Grant that through our deliberations and decisions we will provide wise and positive leadership, seeking to solve problems effectively and justly, so that with courage and compassion, vision and energy, we may instil in our community aroha and harmony.
But they won’t be praying during their meetings anymore. They’re not even going to pray before the official meetings begin. The reason? They know they’re going to get sued over it and lose, and the cost of defending themselves is just too much:
[Councillor] Philippa Baker-Hogan said such a challenge [against the prayers] would likely succeed, and the council could not afford to spend any more ratepayers’ money on the issue, having already shelled out almost $24,000 in legal advice.
“Times change and traditions change. The time is right to make a pragmatic decision and move the prayer out of the agenda.”
The best part about all this?
The threat of a lawsuit came from one of the councillors 🙂
Councillor Clive Solomon, who first raised an objection to the prayer back in April, tabled the new information.
Dr Solomon indicated he would mount a legal challenge if his request to remove the prayer was defeated yesterday.
American, can we elect some leaders like him?
(Thanks to Steve for the link!)