Jacksonville City Council President Jack Webb (at right) has implemented a new policy for the opening prayer of the city council meetings: people of different faiths and denominations will be invited to give the opening prayer on a rotating basis. It used to be just a Christian prayer delivered by the council chaplain (who is always a Christian), but after the hullaboo created by Don Redman's "hey, pray to your god for me Mr. Muslim" demand of a UNF professor last April, Webb's policy now will be to allow other faiths in to offer the opening prayer.
Sounds great. I don't have a problem with that.
And look at the bright side: it will finally allow Don Redman to get what he wanted a few months ago: finally Don will get to hear a Muslim praying in the City Council chamber "to his god"! Remember, one of the attorneys from the General Counsel's office stepped in to save Redman from himself, and the man did not have to pray as Redman asked.
Be careful what you ask for Don - you wanted a Muslim to pray to his god in City Hall, looks like your own actions finally will help make it a reality!
But here's a thought for the City Council:
Part of Jack Webb's new prayer policy should be that any professional religious man or woman invited to offer the city council's opening prayer, will be required to sit and stay for the rest of the council meeting. Yes, if we grant you the opportunity to pray, take a seat in the front row, and listen to the entire council meeting out of respect for the city - and maybe silently pray during the meeting. This will allow that religious leader to get a better idea of the needs and struggles of the city of Jacksonville, so they can then take something back to their religious institution and see how they might help meet the NEEDS of the city - and maybe allow them to put some feet to their prayer.
No pious "Here I am, here's my prayer, see ya later!"
And the person should agree NOT to make a show by asking their followers to go to the council meeting JUST FOR THE PRAYER. Make a show of your prayer, and we'll not ask you or anyone from your institution to come back.
If the pious pray-er doesn't have time to sit down and stay for the entire meeting, get someone else to pray. If their time is too precious and they can't stay, then let them find something else to do that evening other than praying at City Hall.
If they will use the opportunity to make a statement ABOUT prayer by having a showing of their faithful followers for the prayer, we don't need them to pray. The opening prayer is not ABOUT prayer, it IS a prayer.
And let's hope the religious men who pray, including Mac Brunson, can learn one thing from the politicians: when politicians show up at FBC Jax during election time to get recognized from the platform during the service by Jim Whitmire, at least they have the courtesy of staying for the entire service and they hear the message from the preacher.
Imagine if they just showed up to get recognized, and then left because they were just too busy. Even worse, if they brought an entourage with them, and they all stood up and left after they got recognized. Think FBC Jax would recognize them next election cycle?
Can't the pious pray-ers return the favor to the politicians at City Hall and stay for the entire "service"?
Just a thought.