Wally Scott, the mayor of Reading, Pennsylvania, has no concept of how elected officials should talk about religion. He thinks his official Facebook page is the proper venue for his frequent sermons about religion.
Earlier this month, for example, he offered a solution for the unusually high murder rates in his city: Pray for everyone to go to Heaven where no one dies.
Two questions often asked to the people’s Mayor are :
People often ask me, How do you stop all the killings in Reading ? I tell them you could have 1,000 policemen. If someone wants to kill someone they’re going to kill them. The next question that people ask me is how do we make the world a better place and stop all the killings ? I immediately say,
“ We have to pray and ask God to make the world part of heaven because no one dies in Heaven “.
He could’ve saved everyone time by just saying, “I have no solutions because I’m useless at my job.”
There was also this more direct argument that blamed the removal of mandatory Bible readings in public schools and Establishment Clause more generally for whatever problems ail society. It mentioned “God” 10 times.
… We remove God from our public education system and remove God from the government that governs us. I listen to your comments and I have only one thing to say, We can change this problem by accepting God.
His Thanksgiving address also included plenty of God-talk.
The media isn’t helping with any of this. When the local ABC affiliate WPVI covered his God Cures Murder proposal, they framed it as an interesting controversy, saying only, “There’s been a lot of reaction to the post. Some agree, while others disagreeing with the mayor.”
They didn’t point out that what the mayor was doing is unethical if not blatantly illegal… (which also suggests this entire TV station is useless when it comes to informing viewers about their own community.)
Because of that lack of critical coverage, Scott treated it as positive publicity.
The people of Reading deserve better than a mayor who uses his public position to advertise his private faith.
By the way, it’s not even the first time the city has been in hot water over a First Amendment problem. In 2009, the city-owned William Penn Memorial Fire Tower lit up a cross to celebrate Christmas and Easter. When there were complaints, then-Mayor Tom McMahon said they would only light the cross for 8 days instead of 40 (for all of Lent). Even one was inappropriate. There were threats to sue by church/state separation groups, but as far as I can tell, no lawsuit was filed (possibly because no plaintiff wanted to be publicly fight it).
(Screenshot via Facebook. Thanks to Polly for the link)