Prayer controversy

Published 1:13 am Monday, March 3, 2014

To the editor:

Polk County’s prayer controversy brings to mind patriotic thoughts, ludicrous thoughts and thoughts of what we all should have learned by first grade.

The commissioners’ prayer invitation represents the wishes of the majority of our citizens. No one need listen, or agree, though consideration of the beliefs of others requires respectful silence.

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The prayer celebrates the constitutional privilege to choose for her or himself what to believe, even if far from what I believe.  The sincere spoken prayer celebrates the constitutional right to speak.

I surely regret that some found the words disagreeable, offensive, even unacceptable. Believing so is their constitutional right. Saying so is their constitutional privilege.

Suppressing the minister’s speech would have been unconstitutional, but I am amused that anyone would feel so indignant, so injured, so threatened by the words of one man in a population of 18,000 that they would consider moving out.

I have $5 on the table to help pay the movers for any person so inclined.

On the other hand, spectators go to any meeting with a faint hope that the people at the table will do their work efficiently and finish early so everyone can go home (or to a church or to a bar). The minister was pushing the limit of polite tolerance by holding the audience in place so long. Do give the speaker his due.

However, after three minutes or so, anyone in the room might have been entitled to approach the speaker to say, quietly, “Sir, please come to a close.”

– Alan B. Batchelder, Tryon