The Berea City Council in Kentucky decided to table the issue of hiring a Christian pastor to deliver all future invocations, a move that would undoubtedly be illegal and result in a lawsuit.
That’s a victory, everyone!
Remember: The original plan was to hire Berea Baptist Church Senior Pastor Kevin Slemp to give all future invocations at $25 a pop. After council member Emily LaDouceur (below) sounded the alarm online, they revised the proposal to get rid of the $25 fee. But they were still planning to bring Slemp on board to give all invocations… which means they didn’t resolve the biggest problem.
Last night, however, the council backtracked. They decided to delay any vote on the issue while they look into possible legal ramifications of hiring the pastor.
You have to watch the public comments section beginning around the 6:30 mark in the video below. It’s simply incredible. Not only did every single speaker oppose the motion, some of the most eloquent voices were Christians who didn’t want their faith to speak for everyone.
The first man you see gave a laundry list of problems the city needed to solve — problems the council members were elected to solve — none of which involve hiring a pastor to give invocations. He said, “It strikes me that this order is going to be used as a tool to silence Berea citizens of other faiths, just as you tried to do with your walkout [when an atheist delivered an invocation]. I fear that you wish to satisfy a personal intolerance toward differing philosophies by using the official and legal might of this body to silence Bereans.”
A local pastor made a welcome statement, too, saying that his history studying religion did not mean “that my prayers, as your chaplain, or as an invoker of God’s presence at these meetings, is any more valuable than the prayers or the silence of anyone else.”
Another man noted that Pastor Slemp once compared homosexuality to bestiality, and it was disturbing to think his brand of religion would represent the entire city.
Other citizens talked about how Berea is an inclusive place, but this invocation policy would exclude too many people.
Ultimately, the council members who actually care about the city will have plenty to think about before bringing forth this motion again, much less voting in favor of it.
Many thanks to all of you who spoke — and especially to Councilwoman LaDouceur for bringing this to the public’s attention before it was too late.
(Image via Facebook)