Californian council suspends prayer
Following the deliverance of an ‘inappropriate’ prayer that ‘alarmed, stunned and angered’ Redwood City councillors this week, the council has decided to temporarily suspend future invocations.
The decision comes after Pastor Stephen Converse of Grace Bible Church, above, opened Monday’s council meeting with a prayer that attacked the US Supreme Court for its stance on abortion and same-sex marriage.
A video in this report shows Converse saying:
We pray for our country and its leaders who have clearly turned from the way of God … We live in a country where the Supreme Court, a human court, has said murder is not murder, marriage is not marriage and family is not family.
No one interrupted Converse, who is also the Bay Area city’s volunteer police chaplain. But Mayor Jeff Gee later said the comments do not reflect the council’s views.
While I appreciate everyone’s viewpoints, I do have to say tonight’s invocation was not something I appreciate.
Redwood City and San Mateo County LGBTQ Commissioner Jason Galisatus said a government meeting should be a place where everyone feels welcome.
Unfortunately it doesn’t surprise me anymore when I hear things like that, but I would never expect to hear it in that context where I normally feel safe as an LGBT person.
Converse in a phone interview said he did not mean to offend anyone.
City leaders and the police department now plan to meet with the Redwood City Clergy Network to review guidelines for the selection of police volunteers.
Interim City Manager Aaron Aknin said in a statement.:
The City of Redwood City has a long history of invocations going back decades without incident. The City of Redwood City is proud of our diversity and strong community.
Invocations are not the forum to promote or discourage any particular religious or other belief.
Invocators are invited as guests of the mayor and city council and community as a whole to share peaceful and respectful insights. Suspending the invocation process until further discussion with the mayor and council will ensure that invocations support our community’s diversity and values.