Wentzville, Missouri is a city where the Board of Aldermen hold meetings in a room with the words “In God We Trust” looming in front of everybody.
When activist Sally Hunt explained to the Board earlier this year why the phrase was exclusionary, Mayor Nick Guccione told her, falsely, that she had used up her time, before telling cops to take her out of the room. (She has since filed a lawsuit against the city.)
On Wednesday night, another local atheist, Brian Farmer, did two things that were remarkable.
During the public comments section of a Board meeting that night, he condemned the officials for stoking the fire of anti-atheist bigotry. When other citizens said atheists should “leave the country,” for example, the Board never had any criticism for them. It was unacceptable behavior.
Before that, however, Farmer delivered a secular invocation that was inclusive and beautiful — showing the Board that there was no reason to be afraid of people who didn’t believe in God.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you, Mayor, Board of aldermen, and alderwoman, for your thankless duty and service to the city of Wentzville.
Real world problems require real world solutions. Our community greatly benefits from your intervention and your action to the tough decisions required to make Wentzville a thriving community.
So, thank you, for your service and your dedication to our community.
Community is what the Board of Alderman meetings are all about. You are setting the tone and building our community with the decisions made at these meetings.
With the tremendous growth Wentzville has seen over the last decade, your constituency is becoming more diverse than ever. Many people live in this community with great diversity of ethnicity, race, and religion. After all, Wentzville is the Crossroads of the Nation.
We need to harness our diversity to work together. When our city and leadership has access to a wide range of ideas, visions, and perspectives, then our community benefits from a vast range of potential solutions.
On the city website, Wentzville is described as a “dynamic suburban environment” and it states the Vision of Wentzville is a community of neighbors working together to build a better future.
Let’s not lose focus on being that dynamic suburban environment. Let’s continue to seek change and progress as a community of neighbors, working together, with a broad set of ideas and perspectives.
Jimmy Carter referred to America as a beautiful mosaic of different people with different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, and different dreams.
No matter your color, ethnicity, and creed, whether it’s religious or not, all of us in this room are an equal and valued part of this beautiful mosaic, the community of Wentzville.
Let’s continue to build our community on the strengths of our differences.
There’s no hypocrisy here. That invocation was heartfelt — and so was his legitimate criticism of the Board’s actions against people who note, with good reason, that a religious message doesn’t represent the entire town.
The elected officials need to hear that message at every single meeting until they change the sign.