“It’s not OK anymore to be silent,” said a young mother of four children who had never been to a Gilbert Public School Governing Board meeting.
That quote shared with GilbertWatch.com was from Anita Christy, who watched the dramatic twist this past week in the fight to put audible prayer back into board meetings. She says it was an “extraordinary evening.”
If you live in the East Valley, you might know of the debate regarding opening prayer at the board meetings. It’s been more than a decade since prayer was replaced by the ever so politically correct “moment of silence.”
Since that time, citizens have vowed not to let the matter rest. Tuesday, they were triumphant. The board returned the audible invocation. A courageous move.
Of course, this fight will never end. History, in and out of the church, tells of the constant battle for and against recognition of God.
In my lifetime: 50 years ago, anti-God citizens won a biggie. The U. S. Supreme Court ruled God out, for the most part, of the public arena. It acted in response to petitions by the now infamous Madalyn Murray O’Hare, an atheist activist whose demise was, oddly enough, by murder (another story, another time). And, with that, with each decade, evidence of Deity is being purged from plain sight; hidden, locked away because it’s so “dangerous.”
I believe the board voted correctly, not because I absolutely believe in God and His place in public life, but because this East Valley community is known to be filled with believers; filled with churches, of people who worship. That prayer, at that board meeting, represents the majority of citizens in Gilbert. I will never be convinced that children attending board meetings will be harmed by hearing someone speak to the Deity of their choice.
The admirable trend to acknowledge minority groups in our great nation has long passed its tipping point. When the minority overturns the majority regarding time honored, major issues, we need to reconsider. I’m good with courtesy, respect of other’s beliefs, but still, when they tread in sacred territory (pun intended), I’m happy to show them the door.
Even the most reasonable must admit, what has replaced God does not equal that which has been banned. We now worship greed and materialism and unearned gain and government. Personal responsibility has disappeared and protection of the most fragile among us, the born and the unborn, is no longer honored. You and I are forced to pay from our personal bank accounts for such egregious practices.
Oh yes, we’re aware the courts will do their thing, but the board’s message is enormously important in this age old battle. As the young mother said, we must not go silent.
We know religion holds a vital place in society. It needs its space to do so. Every lawful voice should be heard in the public square; secular and religious. Religion is not simply private worship. It’s about public expression on social and moral issues. Just as atheism is.
Anita Christy reflects: “I know this sounds a little dramatic, but honestly, it almost seemed like God was present. Maybe because His name was stated aloud so many times from a place where His name could not be mentioned, He decided to come down and find out what was going on. What a lovely thought.”
• East Valley resident Linda Turley-Hansen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist and former Phoenix veteran TV anchor.