Elected officials in Woodbury, New Jersey have taken steps to make their city council meetings more inclusive, and one of the ways they’re doing that is by replacing the religious invocations that used to open their sessions with a moment of silent reflection.
“Its intent is to bring the community together,” said commission president, Tony Doran, of the change. The commission “believes the moment of quiet reflection does that and is intended to make everyone feel part of the process. The people who’ve historically felt uncomfortable or excluded because of the invocation can now participate in the process without those feelings. And those who would like to pray still have that moment of quiet reflection to do so.“
It’s a neutral policy that favors no single group.
But to some members of the community, neutrality is synonymous to Christian Persecution. Because if they’re not favoring one form of conservative Christianity, the city must have some anti-Christian agenda.
Councilman Kenneth McIlvaine was one who responded at the meeting about the change to members of the public who questioned the move, one of whom called the action “reserve discrimination.”
“I’m very spiritual, I’m very religious, however this is what council has decided on as policy and unfortunately I have to sit here, like you, and concur with the policy that has been made.”
“Knowing[ly] discontinuing the practice and tradition of invocations and open prayer would offend the believers, who just happen to be the vast majority, deserves a little more attention than a simple email,” McIlvaine said later referring to how council members learned of the change in procedure.
To be sure, McIlvaine isn’t fighting the change; he accepts it. He’s just not thrilled about it. It’s absurd, though, that a policy allowing everyone to pray or not pray however they’d like would somehow “offend the believers.” The only way that could happen is if they think their prayers must be foisted upon everybody else.
The proper response is to say, “Some people are offended. Those people are wrong. Let’s move on to actual business.”
The good news is that the city council is moving forward with this change. Any whiners are free to complain to God during the moment of reflection.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)