Fundamentalist Christians and the civil rights crowd have never mixed well in Clearlake. There is a history of blending right wing politics and religion here. The ruling elite consider this strange brew superior to any concoction of civil rights decisions rolled out by the U.S. Supreme Court. This is how the Clearlake brain trust rammed through its prayer “invocation” resolution on Sept. 25th.
How ironic that this resolution was excreted one day after the tenth anniversary of Clearlake’s experiment in violent censorship on its PEG Committee. “Ironic” because a local Fundamentalist minister was on this City Committee “representing the public” but chose instead to join the goober shock troop attack on my legally defined 1st Amendment Rights. Not one participant has ever offered an apology for this outrage.
I understand the Calvary Church was behind this six page, legal-case-studded document. The upshot of this high priced verbage was that if the City does not deny any prayer leader equal opportunity to waste public meeting time then prayer in City Council meetings is not explicitly illegal. Of course, we could have a segment on auto maintenance tips too, open to all the public, but that is also not government business and a waste of the public’s time. I notice City staff charges often for THEIR time.
Since I have not seen any openness to other religious ideas from the jumpin’ Jesus fanatics, I’m assuming they are betting that a Wiccan, Druid, or Satanist signing up on the First Church of City Hall calender will be a rare event. Religious freedom includes the right not to participate. Since the Calvary Church demands that I be part of their cult’s captive audience, my religious rights are being violated.
It seems that just a couple months ago the council paid a lawyer to say letting citizens use TV8 (a designated public forum) for candidate and issue programs was wasting government resources. Never mind that a designated public forum is not a government resource. In fact, their lawyer was careful to not cite any case that had anything to do with this over riding legal status. In other words, the City paid an attorney to deliver an irrelevant legal opinion. I was livid.
This is just another example of how hostile the right wing is toward competition when it comes to ideas. Anything that could be said in their anointed prayer segment could be said in Public Input. But they would have to share the podium as equals. Maybe the closet proselytizers don’t like to rub elbows and stand in line with our unwashed secular concerns. Maybe they think the time subsidy to push their faith based infomercials to the head of the line is sanctioned by their God.
If the Council insists on featuring words from imaginary friends at meetings at least they should auction the spot off to the highest bidder. This is the way the Internet and web host providers work. You can get the free version (the equivalent of “public input”) or pay the going rate for the bells and whistles. To demand prime public time for Sunday morning highlights is aggressive panhandling at its ugliest.
Anyone who opposes this backdoor hijacking of Clearlake’s Council meetings should encourage a boycott by their religious leaders of the “Congregations List” maintained by the City. In government functions, Christians should not demand special treatment. They should stand in line as humble members of the public. If they want a roomful of people’s time for themselves they should pay for it. Time is money. I believe the Christians signed on to “Thou shall not steal” a long time ago.
Still not convinced that we don’t need more filler for our underpowered Council meetings? Then why not bump up the regular public features a notch further with a few more acts. We could have ongoing Citizens Police Review Reports or “Sustainability Project Experiments” updates. I only ask that we keep moving forward. Brain dead prayer was fine for the 1st Century but this is the 21st Century.
Like most small-minded bergs ruled by right wing ideologues, Fundamentalists get put at the head of the public banquet table while those expecting simple recognition of their basic American Bill of Rights, as defined by the Supreme Court, get kicked to the curb with the morning garbage.