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All citizens should have same freedom of expression

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Posted: Monday, September 28, 2009 10:00 pm

On Sept. 6, 1774, as our Founding Fathers were forming this new nation, they made their first official act "a call to pray."

They chose the Rev. Duche to offer a prayer. As he concluded his prayer, he spoke these words, "All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, thy son and our Savior, amen."

On July 9, 1776, the day following the public reading of the Declaration of Independence and the ringing of the "Liberty Bell," Congress resolved to appoint the Rev. Duche to be the Chaplain of Congress and offer prayers every morning at 9 a.m.

Eleven years later on June 28, 1787, while Congress was at a stalemate debating the final draft of the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin recognized that without Divine Intervention there would be no Constitution, and proposed that they open every session with prayer before they proceed with any business. For the last 221 years, that Constitution conceived through prayer has served us well. Our Constitution has stood the test of time.

However, although our Founding Fathers were largely orthodox Christians, it is clear in their writings that they believed all citizens should have the same freedom to express themselves in the public arena. The Christian community today supports that statement.

The final decision that the Council makes on Wednesday night, regarding invocations at council meetings, cannot be made out of concern of offending someone simply because they don't want Christians to pray in Jesus' name, but rather what is in the best interest of the council and of all the citizens of our city.

Some questions that need to be answered that night are the following:

1. Does the final decision honor God?

2. Does the final decision uphold the Constitution?

3. Does the final decision give everyone a level playing field?

4. Does the final decision censor anyone's freedom of speech?

5. Does the final decision treat all people fairly and equally?

The decision that would meet that criteria is to allow uncensored prayer, and allow other faiths the same freedom of speech.

Ken Owen

Director

Christian Community Concerns

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