Letters to the Editor - June 27, 2014

Objects to meeting prayers

The job of the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners, as I understand it, is to craft policy and run the operations of Yamhill County government, not to “acknowledge” the Christian beliefs of some constituents in a ritualistic manner at every meeting.

Many objections can and should be raised to Commissioner Allen Springer’s decision to begin meetings with an “optional” prayer and to his ridiculous justification: that the founding of our country was “built” on the Bible. In fact, the U.S. Constitution was very deliberately crafted as a secular document; it does not appeal to God, Christianity, Jesus or any other entity.

But there is another issue.

By conducting a religious ritual that effectively outs atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, etc. — in other words, by creating a situation where the absence of “speech” (standing, closing one’s eyes, bowing the head) calls public attention to one’s personal religious views — Springer is disenfranchising and marginalizing thousands of Yamhill County’s citizens.

For an elected official to inject his or her religious views and practice into the operations of government in such a way that citizens are expected to make a show of their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) is outrageous and offensive.

Politicians like to talk about uniting people, but we all know that if you want to divide people, lob prayer in public places into the room and you’ll have a Hatfield-McCoy situation faster than you can say “amen.”

So what will it be, Commissioner Springer? Are you a uniter? Or a divider?

David Bates



Separate government, religion

Allen Springer, chair of the commissioners, recently announced that weekly meetings of the Yamhill County Commissioners would begin with a prayer.

I was always under the impression that we, as taxpayers, were paying these commissioners $6,000 a month to conduct government business only — not religious services.

If they are competent, then we should expect commissioners will not need any help from gods or some wizard from outer space to make decisions on land usage and public transportation.

These invocations or prayers at government meetings are divisive and unnecessary. They invariably cause strife and turmoil wherever and whenever they appear.

This could easily turn into a circus if other religious zealots signed up to boast about their deities in future meetings. After all, everyone should have the same rights you claim for yourself, Mr. Springer.

Get off your knees and get to work. Maintain and preserve the separation between government and religion.

Dan Hilbert


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