A couple of weeks ago, we learned that the City Council in Huntsville, Alabama had invited Blake Kirk to deliver an upcoming invocation, only to rescind that offer after learning that he was a Wiccan. They cited “community fears” as the reason for his rejection.
Some readers wrote emails to council members in response, and the general consensus among those members seemed to be that they had no idea why this happened. The selection of invocation speakers, they said, was done by Rev. Frank Broyles, a local interfaith leader who coordinated the invocation calendar.
Well, after that brouhaha, the council was determined to make sure future invocations would reflect the “diversity of beliefs of Huntsville citizens.”
It would be much easier to either have a moment of silence — which is what the City Council will continue to do from time to time and also if a minister has to cancel at the last minute — or to have nothing, Broyles said. But the struggle to acknowledge and honor the diversity of paths in the community that give citizens meaning is worth engaging.
So what did they do at their meeting last night to showcase that diversity?
They invited a Methodist:
Debbie Esslinger, an active lay member of Trinity United Methodist Church and volunteer leader with Interfaith Mission Service, urged the mostly full council chambers to “reach across our differences and beyond our comfort zones to discover the common threads in all of us.”
They’re really reaching out into the nether regions of Huntsville, aren’t they…?
City Attorney Peter Joffrion said that Kirk would be invited back soon, adding, “We decided to pull back, to do some education maybe, and to introduce him more gently at another time.”
“More gently.” As if Kirk was anything but gentle or the Christian critics are going to magically settle down after a couple of weeks.
At least Joffrion and Broyles seem aware that different shades of Jesus aren’t going to be enough to avoid a lawsuit. Kirk will return soon enough and a local Hindu leader will deliver an invocation at the end of the month. It’s not enough, but that’s a good start.
Still, all of this controversy could have been avoided if only the council had allowed Kirk to speak over the complaints of a handful of idiots.
(Thanks to @FreemanToday for the link)