in·vo·ca·tion noun.[in-vuh-key-shuhn] 2. any petitioning or supplication for help or aid.

Oddly in a time when so many interesting things are happening in Tulsa and in the political world around us, one topic has risen to the top. No, it’s not the GOP Convention. It’s not the presidential race. It’s not even Vision 2 (which I’ll address in a post soon). The topic that has risen to the top of the list is that of the prayer at tonight’s City Council meeting, which is to be performed by an atheist. After getting several phone calls and e-mails regarding this issue, I felt it appropriate to respond to the public consternation.

  1. Christianity does NOT need, should not need, and has never needed to be supported by government. It has survived thousands of years of events much worse than this one. It is my humble opinion that its survival as a religion is more greatly impacted by those within the faith who pervert its ideologies and misrepresent its namesake than by atheists or governments.
  2. This issue tonight is not the first time that government has felt compelled to defend one religion or religious belief over another. It has been tried in the past and it has never worked. In fact, history shows us the repeated failure of that experiment. Constantine may have had the best of intentions, but his results didn’t match his desires.
  3. We do not get to have it both ways. We don’t get to ask government in one breath to respect our privacy and defend our freedoms, while also asking them to defend our particular religious ideologies. Simply, I believe it is acceptable for government to acknowledge that the people who grant its authority are, in fact, religious. It is acceptable when government allows for invocations at meetings, but not at all acceptable for government to regulate which religions are relevant.
  4. The decision regarding prayer at Council meetings is a simple one. We can either do away with invocations at meetings, or we can allow others with views different from our own to show up on occasion and offer a petition of prayer to whomever they see fit. There is no acceptable middle ground on this issue.
  5. I am most appalled with the “Christian” response to this event by several in our community. I believe that the actions and words of Jesus are very clear in Christian scripture. Christians, or followers of Christ, confuse the world around them when they acknowledge Jesus with their lips and deny him by their actions, especially those actions born in anger. I’m no pastor, but I’m comfortable suggesting that Jesus would love this man, care for his hurts, and seek to build a relationship with him, not to admonish him for his disbelief. I’m hopeful that the Christians in our community and everywhere will remember that Jesus didn’t choose to impact the world with his yelling and his anger, but with his compassion and his love. The lone scriptural example of Jesus reacting in anger was associated with those who professed to represent God, yet adulterated the faith for their own interests. I certainly do not want to be guilty of that.

I disagree with tonight’s speaker’s assessment of God (I think there is a God, he doesn’t), but I accept his challenge to “open our hearts to the welfare of all people in our community by respecting the inherent dignity and worth of each person.” As a man, I do respect his worth, as a Christian, I love him as my neighbor, and as a public government official, elected to represent my fellow Tulsans, I respect his right to offer a prayer at a City Council meeting.

Thank you,