An issue came up at one of my civic clubs (the name of which I am withholding) recently. At a meeting in June, the Board voted to change the weekly meeting to include a moment of silence instead of a prayer, which historically was always a Christian prayer that included Jesus.
Some of the members claimed they objected to this change because the board made it without consulting the membership, though most of us knew this wasn’t their real objection.
On July 1, a new Board took office, which included me. We considered this action, and decided that yes, we would put it to a vote of the membership. The president emailed ballots, and at our meeting last week, we voted. The choices were 1. prayer only 2. moment of silence only 3. prayer followed by a moment of silence and 4. a “Faith Moment.”
“Faith Moment was presented by one of our own, Richard Barron,” the president said in her email. “He proposed that the (our club) create an itinerary item called the Faith Moment, in which the president or other member conducting the meeting could call upon any members wishing to express their faith. That member could express their faith in the form of prayer, religious thought, or reading from scripture. This segment of the meeting would be open to and include expressions from any faith or belief system, as long as that expression did not deliberately exclude the faith of other members, or contain hate speech or other inflammatory content, as determined by the President. This segment would be limited to 2 minutes.”
I thought this suggestion hit all the right notes for 2022: diversity, equality and inclusion. Surely we would adopt this, and everyone would be happy. I was ready to accept my Nobel Peace Prize.
Sadly, despite my notion that this compromise would work, it was not to be. Though the vote was close, “moment of silence only” was the verdict. My own piece of brilliance received the fewest votes.
As that was announced, four members immediately claimed they would resign, including one who barked, “how can you have (this club) without god.”
So, sure, I have some ideas about this, so let’s start with the most basic: people who are genuinely afraid of the real world.
The urgent, angry, frightened need to control all functions of society like church doesn’t speak of faith, confidence, or trust, but of insecurity, especially insecurity about the fragile house of cards you truly know is your faith.
That faith isn’t constructed by god, by the way, but for centuries by kings and lords and presidents who want your obedience, and, most importantly, your money.
“Why wasn’t God there that day at Columbine? Because God isn’t allowed in the schools.” ~Actual letter to the editor (Sidebar: just this week I wrote a news story about “Rachel’s Challenge,” a program started in memorial of Rachel Scott, the first victim killed at Columbine.)
I love quotes like this because they are such a blunt admission that god is powerless to stand up to school boards.
So really, the small people were the ones who objected. They have small ideas. They have a small world view. They are the people who are afraid of other beliefs, and especially to have other beliefs in their midst.
The idea that all our institutions have to be your church is a very toxic idea.