Woodfin – Last week, the Tribune offered Woodfin Councilman Jim McAllister a guest commentary spot to back up his statement at the August council meeting, which he used to justify removing the meeting’s invocation. The invocation had been part of the meeting since the town was formed in 1971.
McAllister said at the meeting he was “surprised to find almost all of our founding fathers did not want church and state combined.” Of course, they were against the government being tied to one church. They were not against prayers being offered to God to help the government find its way. Read any of the famous founders (see article page 10), and the passage of laws by Congress about religion.
McAllister went on to say at the meeting, “Some of them [Founding Fathers] very famous were quoted at the time saying we’re not a Christian nation. Do not make that mistake. I’ve been operating my whole adult life on a misconception — that’s why I’d like it to be removed personally.”
Well, the Supreme Court declared in 1892 in Holy Trinity v. United States that the historical record of America overwhelmingly demonstrated that the United States “is a Christian nation.” Councilman McAllister, do you know something the US Supreme Court doesn’t?
Instead of a guest commentary, his response was more of a letter to the editor. He quoted from the Bible to justify his position. He cited what Jesus said to a particular group of self-righteous Pharisees.
In his letter, McAllister quoted Matthew chapter 5, verses 5 & 6:
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Surely, Councilman McAllister, you are not questioning the piety of the prayer givers at the meetings. Not those who stood to say a prayer but sat quietly in their seats at the meeting during the moment of silence to pray for the council members and the issues they were about to address at their meeting. Jesus could do this because he knew the people’s hearts. I hope you are not comparing yourself to Jesus, who can discern what’s in the heart.
McAllister also said, “I thought about responding by explaining that our town is now very diverse and perhaps not everyone wants a Christian prayer in their taxpayer-paid meetings, but that just continues the argument. Then I almost wrote: “fine, let’s have prayer and every month a different global religion would lead it, starting with a Jewish Rabbi, then a Buddhist Monk, then a Methodist Minister, and so on,” but that, too, just continues the argument and would likely start a new one.”
Well, since McAllister is new to the board and may be ignorant of the town’s history, I’ll help educate him since I’ve been attending meetings there for the last 20-plus years.
The town used to have ministers from various faiths come to the meetings and open the meetings with prayer. Yes, most were Christian ministers of a variety of types, whether Methodist, Baptist, or Church of God, but if you look at the churches in the town, you’ll find most are of the Christian faith.
I’m not sure why that approach to the invocation stopped. Whether it was a lack of interest from area ministers or out of convenience, the practice gave way to a member of the board giving the invocation. In the last year, it became a moment of silence, not even recognizing it as a prayer. But even that was too much for this intolerant ‘woke’ council.
I’m not sure where McAllister came up with all that stuff about “let’s have prayer and every month a different global religion.” What’s that have to do with the moment of silence the council held where no one was being asked to pray but could pray if they wanted and to any god they wanted? I figured McAllister for more of a statesman, but he appears to be just another politician. Please, Councilman McAllister, don’t patronize those of us in the know. As the old saying goes, “Don’t tell us it’s raining when you’re really pissing down our backs.”
If anything started a new argument, it’s likely to be what this council has done in removing a practice as old as the town. If local ministers are interested in returning prayer to the meeting, they always have public comment time in which they can speak or pray. The First Amendment protects that part of the meeting. It also seems a little absurd for McAllister to use Jesus’ words to try and reinforce his position. You know, councilman, not every citizen is a Christian.