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Thread: Invocations at public meetings: appropriate to stay seated?

  1. #26
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Had another City Council meeting. Stood for the invocation, thinking "maybe this time, it'll be non-denomination". Nope. At the end was "In Jesus' name we pray, amen."

    I was literally sick. I can't do it anymore. I don't care what people think, or if my job is at risk; I'm not standing up for an invocation that involves praying to Jesus. No disrespect to Christianity. It's just that I'm Jewish, and Jews don't pray to Jesus. I don't even feel comfortable standing with my head straight ahead and my eyes open. Can't do it. My two options are to sit down, or come in late, which I think would look worse.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #27
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Had another City Council meeting. Stood for the invocation, thinking "maybe this time, it'll be non-denomination". Nope. At the end was "In Jesus' name we pray, amen."

    I was literally sick. I can't do it anymore. I don't care what people think, or if my job is at risk; I'm not standing up for an invocation that involves praying to Jesus. No disrespect to Christianity. It's just that I'm Jewish, and Jews don't pray to Jesus. I don't even feel comfortable standing with my head straight ahead and my eyes open. Can't do it. My two options are to sit down, or come in late, which I think would look worse.
    They actually make the staff be present and seated at the beginning of the meeting? At the Council meetings of my prior employer, everyone from the director level and below waited in a "war room" watching the meeting on TV, waiting for their items to come up.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  3. #28
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    In one community, a council member was wheelchair bound. Out of respect for him, the mayor would ask that all remain seated for the invocation.

  4. #29
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    It's the same here as it was for Suburb Repairman. We don't need to arrive at the meeting until our particular agenda item is up - meetings officially start at 7:30, but if our item(s) are at 8 or 8:30, that's when we need to be there. Do you have any choice in when you arrive?

  5. #30
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Option 1: Deception

    Consider bringing a copy of the Torah with you. Remain seated with it open on your lap or stand with it open as though you are reading it during the prayer. Most that glance over and see the pages & page format will likely assume it is a Christian Bible or prayer book.

    This does not address the fundamental issue of Christian faith being forced on you, but does offer potential to avoid any confrontation you might encounter by coming in late or remaining seated.

    Option 2: Notification & Exploration of Alternatives

    Talk to your boss and explain your discomfort (I tend to think he will side with you, but religion has always been a topic I avoided even with friends). He might be able to work something out where the staff comes in later, or the Council moves to a more religion-neutral invocation.

    Option 3: Passive Aggressive

    See if a Rabbi from one of temples in Austin is willing to request to deliver the invocation. If your employer denies it, then they will have BIG problems (you can't tell me every preacher was local to within your city limits). If they say yes, maybe the very fact that they received a request will give them pause to consider how diverse their area has become compared to 10 years ago and lead to changes in their approach to invocations.

    Option 4: Nuclear Option

    I understand why you don't want to be directly confrontive, but you might contact the Austin ACLU chapter and ask about anonymous complains when you fear retribution. The ACLU has made a couple of appearances on similar issues in Central Texas.


    Despite being Christian, I would love to see more local governments taken to task over invocations. It has always struck me as a bit disingenuous and political pandering, but I also grew up in the era of the "Religious Right Moral Majority" in Texas and may just perceive it this way because I was so thumped with it. I also can see how it is perceived as prosyletizing by those not part of that religion, but still at the meeting to participate in government.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  6. #31
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Had another City Council meeting. Stood for the invocation, thinking "maybe this time, it'll be non-denomination". Nope. At the end was "In Jesus' name we pray, amen."

    I was literally sick. I can't do it anymore. I don't care what people think, or if my job is at risk; I'm not standing up for an invocation that involves praying to Jesus. No disrespect to Christianity. It's just that I'm Jewish, and Jews don't pray to Jesus. I don't even feel comfortable standing with my head straight ahead and my eyes open. Can't do it. My two options are to sit down, or come in late, which I think would look worse.
    Do they make you say the words? Just because you're standing doesn't mean you are praying. On the few occasions I go to church with my wife (she is catholic), I stand when everyone else stands, and sit when they sit, but I ain't praying. The only thing I don't do is kneel (they've all got their eyes closed anyway ).

  7. #32
    As a faux royalist, I just mumble a "God save the Queen!" during the pledge of allegiance.

    I also sing the french version of the UK national anthem (Oddly, God Save the Queen") when "My Country 'tis of thee" pops up. I refuse to participate in any other anthem or any other event relating to it.

    I also like to point out that the "true" pledge of allegiance uses the Bellamy Salute... which basically every other horrendously propagandizing government used at the time.

    I suppose I'm shooting myself in the foot but I won't apply for jobs in certain areas due to perceptions about them. I'm miserable enough as is bordering on the edge of homelessness to move to some hole in third-world Amerika to face a whole 'nother kind of misery.

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