***Update*** (7/9/15): Mayor Pro Tempore John Carter O’Brien passed along this message via email:
As an elected Official, I have sworn an oath to let any citizen in our community say anything on their mind.
If a resident asked us to consider removing the mission statement, I would gladly vote to put the item on our agenda.
We did not ignore the request from 2008. The letter was received three WEEKS after putting the article in the Grand Rapids Press!
This was a typical scare tactic used to frighten all to cower to those who have no belief in a higher deity created us or our world we live in here on Earth.
Right after taking office seven years ago, the city purchased an old church building and its parking lot to be used for parking at our Library.
I requested that we find another name to call the building because calling it the white church violated the sensibilities of those who do not believe.
It was re named the Community Center and after a change in City Managers and looking at the cost to make it a public building we voted to demolish the building.
I am not the terrible monster portrayed in your blog. All citizens and lawful visitors have every right and ability to speak their mind.
I told Carter I had no problem with citizens speaking their mind, but I didn’t think the sign should’ve gone up, even with a disclaimer. He responded:
I agree with you about the sign. It gives endorsement to specific two specific religious faiths, excluding all others.
Remember the controversy at Hager Park in Jenison, Michigan? For most of the past 50 years, you would’ve seen this sign near the picnic shelter:
It’s an Old Testament verse, Psalm 19:1:
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.”
After an atheist group pointed out the illegality of it to Ottawa County officials, they took down the sign… only to reconsider that decision after their legal counsel told them it would be fine. (The final status of the sign is still in flux.)
Now, a neighboring community has done their own part to push God into government:
Starting this year, an updated version of Hudsonville’s city newsletter includes the phrase ‘strive to serve God,’ which is already part of the city’s mission statement.
“We are just saying we are a religious community, most of us,” says [Mayor pro tem and council member John] O’Brien.
That’s a pleasant way of saying, “The only people who matter in this community are the Christians.” The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent city officials a letter asking them to drop the phrase in 2008 but they ignored it.
Considering the city’s tagline is “Good people, Good living,” why not just change the phrase to “Strive to serve good” or “Strive to be good”?
“Probably ‘striving to serve good’ would satisfy many people, but isn’t God good,” says John O’Brien…
Sure, if you think biblical genocide is awesome.
WZZM 13 reached out to Mitch Kahle, whose group led the effort in Jenison, and he said the group would file a Freedom of Information Act request with the city before deciding the next step.
(Thanks to Julie for the link. Portions of this article were posted earlier)