On Jan. 27, 1956, a young 26-year-old pastor had just finished an eight-week bus boycott. His wife was home alone with their 10-week-old daughter, and he was receiving 30-40 death threats per day. He couldn’t sleep and he had just been released from jail for a minor traffic violation. “And I got to the point that I couldn’t take it any longer. I was weak.” So, young Martin Luther King Jr. said the following prayer:
"Lord, I'm down here trying to do what's right. Now, I am afraid. And I can't let the people see me like this because if they see me weak and losing my courage, they will begin to get weak. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I've come to the point where I can't face it alone."
Pinal County Board of Supervisors Reject Prayer
On Oct. 27, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors unilaterally removed prayer from their Regular Meeting. For this decision, the board was praised by a satanist from San Tan Valley.
This decision by the Pinal County Board of Supervisors comes on the heels of a letter dated Sept. 13, 2021, threatening a lawsuit unless the County stopped the practice of prayer. “We suggest the best course is to have no invocation at the start of a meeting.” But Legislative Prayer has a long and storied history not only in Pinal County but in the United States. Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983).
In light of the unambiguous and unbroken history of more than 200 years, there can be no doubt that the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer has become part of the fabric of our society. As Justice Douglas observed, “[we] are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.” Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 313 (1952).
The chairman and the rest of the board’s failure to call for an invocation despite it being listed on the agenda was either purposeful or extremely neglectful. We as Pinal County citizens demand that our elected leaders recognize the importance of prayer to guide their deliberations. Prayer is not just a three-minute agenda item to be completed every week.
After Martin Luther King, Jr. said the prayer listed above he heard God tell him to, “Stand up for justice.” In the book "Standing in the Need of Prayer," Coretta King wrote it this way: “When Martin stood from the table, he was imbued with a new sense of confidence, and he was ready to face anything.” Pinal County deserves leaders with the kind of confidence to do justice that can only come from starting with prayer.
History of Legislative Prayer
Legislative Prayer has been upheld by the United States Supreme Court in numerous cases. In 2014, the Supreme Court decided the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway, 572 U.S. 565, where the Court ruled that “[t]he town of Greece does not violate the First Amendment by opening its meetings with prayer that comports with our tradition and does not coerce participation by nonadherents…” Id. at 591-592.
Legislative prayer has also been upheld by various courts in Arizona. Arizona’s motto, Ditat Deus, means “God enriches.” Ariz. Const. art. XXII, § 20. Each legislative day’s session is opened by a prayer delivered by the Chaplain of the Day. When discussing the Arizona Constitution, the delegates negotiated over whether the preamble should refer to “Almighty God,” the “Supreme Being,” or “Almighty God for Liberty.” Records, at 41, 77, 82-83.
They ultimately agreed that the preamble should read, "We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution.” Id. at 1399. “The doctrine of separation of church and state does not include the doctrine of total nonrecognition of the church by the state and of the state by the church.” Community Council, 102 Ariz. 448, 451 (1967).
Please Attend the Board Meeting on Nov. 3, 2021, and Tell Your Supervisors to Continue the Practice of Prayer
At the beginning of every board meeting, the chairman offers a Call to the Public. This is your chance to address the chairman and the other supervisors about any issue important to you. You should attend the board meeting on Nov. 3, 2021, and ask the chairman to bring back prayer.
We need the assistance of God in our Ccuntry, in our cities, in our county, and in our families. It is through prayer that God supplies this assistance. Our nation’s leaders from our founding, have recognized their need of God’s assistance. Prayer from our leaders is an act of humility that they are accountable not just to their constituents but to the Creator.
"I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day."
-- Abraham Lincoln
Brad Miller, Esq.
Chief-of-Staff, District 1
Supervisor Kevin Cavanaugh’s Office