Church, Local, politics, Worship

An Open Letter to His Honor the Mayor Timothy Titus, of Paradise, California

Two thousand years ago, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus of Nazareth instructed his followers that they should not pray in public; only hypocrites pray in public, he said.

The National Day of Prayer was founded in 1952 during the Red Scare, as an attempt to ostracize progressives in the U.S. as un-American. It was not an effort to bring peace to this land, but an effort to bring division.

In In April 2010, a federal judge found the National Day of Prayer to be unconstitutional.

An extremist group called the Ridge Ministerial Fellowship has organized a local National Day of Prayer event on on May 2, 2013, at Terry Ashe Park, a municipal facility located in the heart of our dear town. It is publicly documented that this organization has had a history of pressuring His Honor the Mayor, concerning Proposition 8 and its so-called “impact” on the PUSD. We humbly request that you help us to take a stand against them as a matter of civic duty.

It is one thing to host religious organizations for lectures or faith-based initiatives which bring unity to the community. It is quite another to host worship services which bring division to those who either believe praying the way they do is unwholesome and hypocritical (such as people who believe Jesus’ teachings) or other faiths which believe the way they pray is even blasphemous.

Hosting the National Day of Prayer event in the public park implies (intentionally or otherwise) that the secular town government is partial towards certain religions; towards those who wish to pray for supernatural help—who condemn other lifestyles as immoral—over against those who wish to use reason and action to bring change. To put it another way, there are people who wish to hold humans accountable for their actions and neighborly duties on one side, over against those who wish to create division and invoke a supernatural entity to do his will in our land. Our government should promote democracy and accountability, and encourage these interfaith organizations to observe their practices on private land.

A petition has been started on Change.org regarding this issue.

UPDATE: 10:40 AM
After further investigation, we have decided to close this petition. While the so-called “National Day of Prayer” is itself unconstitutional, this group has a right to worship in the park. In similar instances, the ACLU has fought to defend the rights of churches to worship organizationally in a park. If we work to prohibit them from doing so, the ACLU will be against us on this. (See http://www.aclu.org/religion-belief/aclu-tn-successfully-advocates-behalf-student-preachers)

The problem is the National Day of Prayer itself. But I don’t see how it’s possible to force people to use a different name for it if they do it every May anyway…

Thank you for your support.

UPDATE 8:30 PM
The mayor decided to respond despite the cancellation of the petition. This is what he said: “Since the Town neither owns nor controls the Recreation Center, the prayer event is not subject to Town approval, nor are we a sponsor of the event.” So much for my first foray into local politics…

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