commissions and other such bodies by simply abandoning this archaic
practice. If the principle of separation of church and state has any
validity, it seems to me that there is no good reason for
governmental bodies to have "opening prayers." If asked to
participate in such a charade, I would say no. And, by the way, in
more than five years I have lived in Glendale, I have never been
asked to do this.
If I were asked, I would say no. It would not be because prayer
would not be helpful and/or useful, but because prayer at such
meetings is superfluous. Few people seem to pay much attention to the
person leading the prayers in the first place. In the second place,
everyone seems to be watching and waiting to see what kind of
ecumenical "mistake" the person praying might make. Will he or she
mention Jesus? Will he or she be too specific -- not allowing for
non-Christian viewpoints? Will he or she be exclusive?
I would suggest that we let government officials work out their
agendas on the basis of good old-fashioned ethics. Opening prayers
are absolutely unnecessary. Eliminating them would help us reaffirm
the principle of separation of church and state.
I don't see a logical place for a Wiccan priestess, a Catholic
priest, a Baptist minister, a Unity minister, or any other
representative of any church to open governmental meetings.
If the government officials need this kind of prayer for them to
do their jobs, we have elected the wrong people. Good government
officials will make decisions on principle and will never need
someone like me or any other minister or priest to lead them in the
right direction. They will already know the way to make correct
decisions on behalf of the people they are serving.
The practice of "opening prayers" is an old custom, an old
tradition, that needs scrapping at every level -- local, state and
Let's encourage each government official to pray, if he or she
feels it necessary, in his or her own way. And above all, encourage
each government official to act on principle!
THE REV. THOMAS E.