The Coolidge City Council wanted to exclude all non-Christians from delivering pre-meeting prayers. The council got close to adopting the exclusionary policy after a 4-2 vote Sept. 14 that changed the current policy. On behalf of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, I sent the City Council a warning letter on the 17th. Americans United followed up with a letter on the 18th. The ACLU of Arizona also weighed in. And according to reports, yesterday “during a hastily called meeting” the council “voted unanimously to back away from a proposal to allow only Christians to pray before council meetings.” It was nice to get a victory so soon after FFRF sent the letter. (If you like what we do, please consider joining FFRF.)
The councilor who sponsored exclusionary policy, Robert Hudelson, made a statement before inexplicably voting against his own unconstitutional policy. Rather than recognizing his mistake as discrimination Hudelson said, “History will look back on us and say, ‘There is a city council who stood for Christ and Christ alone.’ For that, we should never be ashamed.”
Yes. Yes, Mr. Hudelson, you should be ashamed. You attempted to abuse your government office to further your personal religion. You serve “We the people,” not “We the Christians” and certainly not Christ. If that is who you wish to serve, enter the ministry. But while you occupy a public office you have a duty to keep state and church separate, not unite them to further your personal mythology. No American government “stands for Christ.” American governments stand for the American people.
FFRF has always argued against government prayer, in part because it is divisive. Mr. Hudelson and three of his colleagues proved us right, even if in the end they avoided the wrong.