Saturday, January 7, 2012

Civic engagement pays off: new mayor of Greensboro fortifies the wall between church and state!

In the midst Republican presidential candidates spewing ignorance in the name of God, there are boundless more examples of the religious right hijacking our government with impunity from the electorate.  This story is not one of them.

Last year, former Greensboro mayor Bill Knight ended the moment of silence and dictated that council meetings would begin with prayer. “I think this adds a very distinctly American quality and a very necessary element,” he said. Knight did not understand that America was not founded upon Christian principles but his divisiveness is backed by an unhelpful Supreme Court decision that permits "nonsectarian" invocation.

Fortunately, you don't have to go all the way to the Supreme Court to reaffirm institutional respect for religious liberty.  In response to the city council prayer a handful of Greensboro residents, including several members of our group, issued statements to city council.  While Knight ignored our appeals for inclusiveness, our perseverance did not go unnoticed.  One council member, Robbie Perkins, supported reinstating the moment of silence from the onset and promised our group he would deliver if elected mayor.

While the UNCG AAS doesn't explicitly endorse candidates, many of our members gathered at the ballot (some for the first time) and cast their vote.  The election was a landslide and Mayor Perkins opened his first meeting with a moment of silence!

Take a moment to observe these diverse voices of Greensboro, using the framework of democracy, to reestablish the equal inclusion of both religious and nonreligious people:

While we can declare this a victory, the attack on nonreligious people persists with the tireless arrogance. The Supreme Court is expected to decide shortly on an appeal from our neighbors in Forsyth County regarding government sponsored invocations of "Jesus."  The ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State are backing the brave couple who filed the initial complaint.

"Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law."
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

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