A couple of years ago, before the Supreme Court ruled that sectarian invocation prayers were legal, the city of Huntsville, Alabama was threatened with a lawsuit for its overuse of Christian invocation-givers. In response, Huntsville City Council President Mark Russell (below) offered a possible solution and his colleague agreed:
A possible compromise, he said, is using a rotating roster of clergy from different faiths. Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Baha’i leaders have delivered a few council invocations through the years, but Russell estimated that 90-95 percent of the prayers are Christian.
“I think we’ll continue to want to open our meeting with a prayer of some sort,” he said.
Councilman Will Culver said he agrees with the idea of an opening prayer that rotates among different faiths.
“That’s the only way to do it, in my opinion,” Culver said Friday. “Everybody should have an opportunity.”
As we know, that’s essentially the solution the Supreme Court went with: People of all faiths must be allowed to give the invocations, but the invocations aren’t going away.
Blake Kirk gave one of those invocations in Huntsville earlier this year and he was set to do it again last night… but his invitation was rescinded for the worst possible reason:
WHNT News 19 confirmed with Huntsville City Attorney Peter Joffrion that Blake had been asked to give the invocation Thursday, but when the agenda was released publicly earlier this week, several council members received community concerns about ‘a Wiccan’ being invited to speak.
“I gave the invocation earlier this year, at the time they did not ask me what my faith affiliation was, but when they did this time and I told them ‘Wiccan,’ I was told I was no longer invited to give it,” Blake told WHNT News 19 from home Thursday night.
The news segment cited “community fears” as the reason the invitation was rescinded.
(Note to the Christian Right: This is what’s known as “actual religious discrimination.”)
Keep in mind that we have no idea what the “concerns” were, but who wants to bet they were a mix of ignorance and bigotry?
Supposedly, the city council will meet to discuss this matter and invite Kirk back in the future, but it shouldn’t have to come to that. Allowing him to deliver his invocation last night should have been a no-brainer. I promise you community fears would never have prevented a Christian from speaking.
If you’d like to send a message to Council President Russell urging him to do the right thing and apologize before the city is hit with a lawsuit, his contact information is here. (Be respectful.)
(Thanks to Richard for the link)