Californian council suspends prayer

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.

20 responses to “Californian council suspends prayer”

  1. Broga says:

    It is a reflection of values, principles and beliefs that these aggressive and hurtful opinions always come from Christians and not from the aggressive and militant atheists. The atheists, much feared and much derided, live in an acceptance of life and lifestyles, that this type of Christian rejects.

    I hope that some, at least, of this man’s audience might ponder on whom is to be feared and likely to endanger their country: the Christians or the atheists. The conclusions are there to be drawn wherever these Christian opinions are stated. These followers of gentle Jesus are not gentle.
    They embrace the outrageous and irrational and condemn any who disagree with them. Their certainty is founded on ancient beliefs and a bible filled with contradictions, cruelty and violence.

  2. Alan says:

    Usual story. It’s wrong, hurtful etc. to offend those who hold religious views, but it’s acceptable to say what you want about those that hold secular views.

  3. Trevor Blake says:

    Easier to say ‘this man is a bigot!’ than to say ‘this man accurately represented his religion.’ Easier, but more cowardly and deceptive. Because Pastor Convers did accurately represent his bible and 2000 years of his religion, not the embarrassed extremists and distorters who equate his (or other) religions with peace and love.

  4. JohnMWhite says:

    What did they think was going to happen if they open a council meeting with a prayer to a being that is known by the things it hates? Calling it an ‘invocation’ doesn’t make the result any less inevitable and the invitation any less stupid.

    Converse in a phone interview said he did not mean to offend anyone.

    Yes, because he lives in a self-righteous bubble and thought none of the people he hates would hear him.

  5. asquith says:

    Why, incidentally, is God so offended by two men or tgwo women falling in love and not, say, the illegal war in Iraq (the inevitable consequence of which being anti-Christian persecution in the Middle East) or Americans left to die on the streets without health care?

  6. Broga says:

    @asquith: God is offended because the preachers who decide what offends God cannot bear to see people happy. Another reason God is offended is because these same people are emotionally stunted and have massive unresolved problems with their own sexuality.

    These preachers just love to exercise power for the spurious reason that they are uniquely able to know what God wants. God, despite his omnipotence, never seems to have acquired the ability to communicate clearly. So none of his followers can agree on what he wants.

  7. 1859 says:

    @ Broga: I’ve often thought that ‘Sexuality’ should be on every school pupil’s timetable. That it should have just as much importance in the curriculum as Maths, English and Science. Probably developing a ‘healthy’ attitude towards your emerging sexuality is one of the most profound steps in everyone’s life, and yet kids might get one lesson a week on the mechanics of reproduction and contraception. But as far as I am aware , there is nothing about developing a healthy emotional attitude to sexual relationships. The reason I say this is because, like you, it has always puzzled me why religious fruitcakes are just so, so obsessed with what other people do in bed – they just cannot, it seems, see sex as a normal expression of love and affection. It’s like they see sex as a dangerous, uncontrollable abomination – necessary, but still distasteful – and see love as some sugar-coated, candy floss reality – all sentimental and rosey. Whereas if these people had studied sexual affection/love and all that it means in relationships, perhaps they wouldn’t behave they way they do. But maybe I’m just a hopeless idealist at heart!

  8. barriejohn says:

    @1859: It already is on the curriculum of British schools, and has been for many years. When I started teaching in 1967 it was called Education for Personal Relationships, or similar, and is now called Personal, Social and Health Education. Un fortunately, religious institutions are still able to indoctrinate children with their own views, despite the legislation, as I will show in a further link.,_Social_and_Health_Education

  9. barriejohn says:

    Prepare for shedloads of mumbo-jumbo – and these people are responsible for the education of our children!

    At the heart of the Christian life is the Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit in communion, united in loving relationship and embracing all people and all creation. We are all of us called to live life in ‘right relationship’ which is at the heart of God. We do this most clearly by loving one another and celebrating the inter-relatedness of creation thus fulfilling Christ’s law of love. Throughout the pupil’s time in school they will learn from the personal relationships and the attitudes they experience, in their whole life in the school, in every part of the curriculum and in every activity. A school, as any community, of its very nature involves relationships, which are, in themselves, part of the educative process.

    Schools, therefore, will present role models of good relationships and promote the values, attitudes and behaviours that underpin healthy relationships, including reconciliation. Every effort must be made to create a secure, safe and reflective learning environment where pupils and staff are at ease with one another. Affirmation of each child and each other needs to be a daily reality.

  10. barriejohn says:

    Note also this tendentious statement:

    EPR will, therefore, also deal with matters related to personal dignity, and the correct use of body, mind and spirit.

    Interpret that how you like!

  11. 1859 says:

    @barriejohn: Yes, I know about PHSE – which, to be honest, was mostly loathed by staff and students. However, I guess what I was getting at in my reply to Broga, was a no-holes barred (no pun intended!) discussion about sex, love and relationships – without all the queasy immorality shit,without all the embarrassment of talking about your own and others genitals, and more especially without all the christian claptrap of the trinity, etc. What I’ve always struggled to understand is why so many religious people have such weird attitudes towards sexuality. Yes they are repressed sexually and it sublimates into bizarre attitudes – that’s well understood – so I can grasp why they are the way they are, buy why do they become so overly concerned with what other people do in bed? How is is that people who declare themselves celibate for religious reasons, think they can lay down sexual laws for everyone else?

  12. barriejohn says:

    @1859: My view is that it is because sex is such a powerful force (evolutionary science tells you that if the urge to reproduce was not stronger than any other biological urge in any particular species then that species would die out) and that that is why they are afraid of it. Religion depends upon mind control, and they are afraid of the power of sexual urges in others and in themselves.

  13. 1859 says:

    But isn’t that strange? – an evolutionary force so powerful believers in religion are afraid of it? I guess what must be happening at some deep psychological level, is that they ‘feel’ the power of the sexual urge in themselves and somehow realise that if it was left unchecked, or uncontrolled in others, people would happily give in to their evolutionary urges and pay little or no heed to religion – as you say religion is all about mind control and, as we all know, controlling people through the use of superstition is a lucrative business.

  14. barriejohn says:

    The urge to procreate is stronger than the instinct for survival. If there is any “purpose” to life it lies in the replication of our own species, not in serving the wishes of some sky fairy concocted in the imaginations of bygone ancestors heavily influenced by the ingestion of “substances”.

  15. Broga says:

    I took the view that if our children were old enough to ask the question they were entitled to a candid answer. My grandchildren are being brought up with the same openness I’m glad to see. A book on anatomy for young children is a big help. I suppose if we had been Christians the kids would have been at risk of being muddled by mumbo jumbo.

  16. gedediah says:

    So it’s only after the invocation that it occurred to anyone in the council that the content was offensive? I’d have more respect for them if they’d stopped it and called the bigot out infront of everyone.

  17. dennis says:

    when are we going to understand secular and religion do not belong in the same sphere. when schools can secularly teach total human ethos will humans be free of superstition.

  18. angelo spumoni says:

    Bigotry in the church has raised its ugly head as it attempts to demonize the Supreme Court and gay Marriage. Church leaders should be put in the local jails over night to enjoy the thrill of being sodomized.

  19. melvin polatnick says:

    Church leaders spreading bigotry should be put in the local jails over night to enjoy the thrill of being sodomized. Gays have a right to be married and suck cock without shame.