Here’s a messed up story that deserves much more attention than it’s getting.
Earlier this month, at a meeting of the Carey (Ohio) Village Council, Law Director Emily Beckley recommended that the prayer they said at the beginning of each meeting could potentially lead to a lawsuit in the future. Instead of waiting for atheists to pounce, Beckley suggested they eliminate the Council-led invocation altogether.
At the same time, Mayor Armand Getz suggested they also do away with the Pledge of Allegiance, with it’s “Under God” phrasing. Not because they would face a lawsuit over that — they wouldn’t — but because it might make some citizens uncomfortable and he didn’t want them to feel that way.
“My decision was based on another’s perspective if attending one of our council meetings. Would they feel comfortable refraining from saying the prayer or Pledge of Allegiance, or would they feel coerced into participating despite their personal beliefs?”
“If I thought for one minute that someone could conscientiously object to one or both the prayer and Pledge of Allegiance and not suffer any adverse consequences, I would have left it alone.”
“… Reciting the prayer at our council meetings is not a religious test nor is reciting the Pledge of Allegiance proof of our patriotism, nor should they be.”
That all happened on March 6. And since then, both Getz and Beckley (who merely provided the legal research on the prayer issue) have been the recipients of serious threats. People were apparently telling them to reinstate the Pledge and prayer… or else.
[Getz] said since the decision two weeks ago, there have been threats made if both were not reinstated. Those threats “would have a very real implication to the health, safety and welfare of the Village of Carey.” He would not elaborate on specifics of those threats.
Frightening, right? And you have to assume the threats came from self-proclaimed believers. The sort of people who want Ten Commandments monuments everywhere because how else would everyone know that violence is bad?!
They had their intended effect, though. This past Monday, two weeks after that fateful meeting, the council voted unanimously to write up a resolution to bring back the Pledge of Allegiance along with a moment of silence in lieu of the prayer.
As for Getz and Beckley? They announced they were stepping down from their positions. Getz said he’s leaving because the council was overriding his ability to run meetings as he wished (which the law says he has the power to do), and Beckley was stepping down because preparing the legislation to bring back the Pledge and moment of silence would make her complicit in taking power away from the Mayor. She couldn’t do that.
Also, the threats.
“This ‘us versus them’ mentality has to stop,” she said and personal attacks are “not what we are,” and “not the Carey we know.”
The last two weeks have been “unbelievable,” she said.
With Beckley gone, it’s unclear whether the Pledge/Silence legislation will be ready to go when the council meets again in two weeks, but that’s a moot point right now.
The fact is that local leaders did the right thing for the citizens by making council meetings a place of business instead of a temporary Christian worship service. As a result, they were threatened and pressured (forced?) to leave their positions.
What does it say about Christians that they would act this way unless community leaders promoted their faith through the government?
What does it say about their beliefs that prayers must be done in public, non-Christian citizens be damned?
What does it say about their own patriotism that they’re attacking people trying to defend the Constitution?
It’s the village’s loss. And if they let the Christian mob control what happens at these meetings, there’s a good chance the taxpayers of Carey will eventually be on the losing end of a pricey lawsuit.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Doug for the link)