Editor, Casa Grande Dispatch:
Supervisor Goodman in his recent letter justifies the practice of opening Pinal County Board of Supervisors meetings with a Christian prayer. I believe a minute of silence as suggested by Noel Reck of Casa Grande during the Nov. 3 regular meeting would be a better idea. Supervisor Goodman says, “In my opinion, it is imperative that we have our Heavenly Father guide us to make the best decisions for our constituents.”
With all due respect, Supervisor Goodman, that is the heart of the matter. Many of your constituents do not share your belief in your “Heavenly Father.” Many do not wish to be subject to public incantations to your “Heavenly Father” when they attend public meetings. They do not approve what they believe amounts to government sanction of a religious exercise before, after or during the conduct of public business.
While it is true that many of your constituents are Christian and would approve Christian prayer as part of the board meeting, as elected officials you should be sensitive to the feelings of all your constituents, not just those with whom you share a religious belief. That is what it means to take an oath or affirmation to support and defend the Constitution of the United States — a secular document that equally protects your right to believe in your “Heavenly Father” and my right not to.
If you and other board members believe you need to communicate with your “Heavenly Father” in order to make wise decisions for your constituents, a minute of silence will do just as well. You would be joined in that meditative minute by all present. In this way, you connect with your God, show sensitivity to all and avoid the discord and division of imposed public prayer.