The Berea City Council in Kentucky is already backtracking on its plan to pay a Christian pastor to deliver all future invocations, a move that would undoubtedly be illegal and result in a lawsuit.
But instead of fixing the problem, they just changed some of the fluff around it.
This morning, I posted about how council member Emily LaDouceur was trying to sound the alarm before tonight’s meeting (and possible vote). She publicly posted the proposal on Facebook and pointed out that paying Berea Baptist Church Senior Pastor Kevin Slemp, even if it was just $25 per meeting, amounted to city-sponsored Christianity. She added that Slemp wasn’t vetted or voted on; he was just listed as the default pastor without anyone else being able to chime in.
Furthermore, she criticized this line in the municipal order:
This policy is not intended, and shall not be implemented or construed in any way, to affiliate the Council with, nor express the Council’s preference for, any faith or religious denomination.
That’s just laughable. You don’t get to just toss in a little disclaimer about how none of your actions should be construed as illegal… after doing all kinds of illegal things.
This order is intended to discriminate against and exclude faiths that are not a certain type of Christian in our council chambers. It is religious zealotry, bigotry, and bias made formal through municipal order. This is divisive and I question even the legality of it.
Well, it looks like her colleagues are paying some attention. Just not enough.
In advance of tonight’s meeting, they circulated a revised draft of the order. It no longer includes a payment for the pastor — in fact, it forbids any payment for invocations — and adds that no one in attendance “shall be required to participate in any invocation that is offered.”
They didn’t solve the problem.
The issue wasn’t the money. It was having a designated Christian chaplain deliver all the invocations. The money was just a tiny red flag attached to a much larger red flag.
The part about prayer participation being optional was already implied; putting that in writing doesn’t change anything.
Good lord, these people are dumb.
LaDouceur is once again trying to tell her colleagues they’re making a huge mistake:
Folks, we have a “revised” municipal order, which does nothing to change the serious constitutional violations found within it. The compensation for the chaplain has been removed and additional language *trying* to distance the city from religious affiliation has been added. That’s not how this works. We will be sued.
I emailed a proposal to my colleagues on council this morning, stating that I will make a motion to remove the municipal order from the agenda to allow us to address the legal ramifications of this process/policy. I feel this is a reasonable and amicable solution to prevent further division of our community and averting the financial burden of legal action that will waste taxpayer dollars. Because this altered version of the same problem has been sent out, I have no reason to believe my colleagues intend to table the issue tonight and we will likely come to a vote.
I have been floored by the compelling emails and messages sent to the council in opposition of this order…it is simply illogical, impractical, and discriminatory to move forward with this municipal order and it is clearly not the will of the people. I’ll see you all tonight.
How many times do you have to tell people they’re about to walk off a cliff until they finally listen?
She’s the only voice of reason (with any power) standing between the city council and a lawsuit that will inevitably cost taxpayers a hell of a lot of money. Here’s hoping a lot of citizens attend tonight’s meeting and speak out against this absolutely irresponsible move by her colleagues.
(Image via Facebook)