After ministers refuse to invite non-Christians, Hutchinson votes to keep prayers

The prayers will stay at meetings of the Hutchinson City Council.

By a 3-to-2 vote, council members in the town west of the Twin Cities rejected calls to replace a prayer by Christian pastors with a moment of silence, the Hutchinson Leader reports.

Currently, the prayer is led by members of the Hutchinson Ecumenical Ministerial Association on a rotating basis. Sometimes, nobody shows up at the meetings, so council members pray by themselves, which prompted one of the members, Steve Cook, to propose making the moment of silence a suitable replacement for a Christian prayer.

In rejecting the proposal with a vote in April, however, the City Council asked the ministers’ association to include non-Christians in their invocations. But the ministers refused.

“The Hutchinson Ecumenical Minister Association is, by definition, a Christian organization, not an inter-faith organization,” the association’s co-chairs wrote to council members. They said, however, they would merely not schedule a Christian minister to appear at two meetings each month, apparently inviting the Council to fill the spots with someone of their choosing.

In a letter to the Council from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, delivered before another vote on Tuesday, Colin McNamara, a legal fellow with the group, called the ministers’ idea “a paltry attempt at compromise.”

Cook had polled Minnesota officials in Litchfield, Silver Lake, Winsted, Glencoe, New Ulm, Willmar, Marshall and Fergus Falls, McLeod, Sibley and Meeker county boards, and the District 423 School Board, found they got along fine without invocations, and then proposed the moment of silence as a suitable replacement.

  • MrE85

    It sounds Hutchinson’s city government could do with more thoughts and less prayers.

    • What Hutch needs is an invocation from Pastor Deacon Fred of Landover Baptist Church.

  • Ah, the Christian Taliban is alive and well in hutch.

  • JackDupp

    This report is terribly slanted. The minister’s association did not refuse to allow non Christian invocations. In fact, they offered to reserve spots for other denominations. They simply didn’t feel it was their obligation to go out and procure the non Christian denominations. That’s a big difference from refusing to allow them to participate.

    • wjc

      Why does a City Council meeting need to start with a prayer at all? That is the critical question.

      • Mike Worcester

        Not being glib — the answer offered quite often is that both the state legislature and congress begins their sessions with a prayer/invocation of some sort, so why can’t shouldn’t we?

        • They can. Greece v. Galloway said so.

          • Mike Worcester

            Which is why I posted a link above. 🙂

        • wjc

          They can, but they don’t need to.

    • // The minister’s association did not refuse to allow non Christian invocations

      That’s not a sentence I used anywhere in the piece. And the point you make *is* clearly stated already in the piece.

      Please identify the sentence that is wrong and then we can talk about what’s in the post.

      • JackDupp

        “In rejecting the proposal with a vote in April, however, the City Council asked the ministers’ association to include non-Christians in their invocations. But the ministers refused.”

        The ministers did not refuse to include non-Christians, they just refused to procure them. There’s a difference.

        • “in their invocations.”|

          By agreeing not to show up for two meetings a month, they were not THEIR invocations. “their” refers to HEMA.

          • JackDupp

            This is from the Hutchinson Leader:

            “Cook said he brought the issue back following a letter from the Hutchinson Ecumenical Ministerial Association that said it would not undertake a request by Cook and Lofdahl to search for leaders from non-Christian faiths to occasionally give the invocation. ”

            HEMA is saying they won’t search for non-Christian leaders as requested by two city council members, but they’re not saying they can’t participate. They’re just deferring the search request back to the City Council, which to me is different than saying “no they can’t participate”.

          • Right. That point was clearly stated in the post. Nobody has written that the ministers won’t let non-Christians appear before the Council.

    • king harvest

      How generous of the minister’s to not schedule 2 meetings so that others may participate.
      Unfortunately they don’t know any of “those other people” so they will just have to do it themselves

      • JackDupp

        If you do a quick search on “churches in Hutchinson MN” they are all Christian. There are no synagogues, mosques, or non-Christian places of worship listed. So 2 meetings is actually pretty generous. Is that the fault of the minister’s association? Should they be out trying to recruit non-Christians?

        • RBHolb

          Yes. Since the Minister Association has taken it upon itself to be in charge of the scheduling for the invocation, it is its obligation to do the outreach. Otherwise, the City Council should just take charge of the whole thing and leave the Association out of it. Matthew 22:21.

          • JackDupp

            They did defer it back to the City Council and the city basically said “we don’t have time for that.”

  • Mike Worcester

    Excellent background information (which has been noted in other posts on this topic, but like a good cast, is worth repeating):

  • AmiSchwab

    what exactly is a “prayer” going to contribute to a city council meeting?

    • prinefan

      Pretending to talk to imaginary beings, prayer, is as use less as burnt mule shyt as we like to say way down heah in the bowels of the buybull belt.

  • lindblomeagles

    Here we go again – Christians blocking the path for others to pray while, simultaneously, forcing the rest of us to pray with them. It’s almost like we Christians have never known Jesus Christ at all. Seriously, when did JC ever exclude anybody? I also don’t remember him forcing everybody to convert to Christianity either. Matter of fact, the Disciples didn’t do that either. It’s almost as if we don’t even remember how Christianity started, or why.

    • JackDupp

      If you read the Hutch Leader article then you’d see that’s not the case at all. Nobody is blocking anyone else’s prayers and forcing others to pray with them.

      • George T

        JackDupp: One Christian oriented organization is the path to religious invocations in this government forum. Why set up such a system? Why not have a neutral moment of silence?

        • JackDupp

          That is what HEMA proposed and what was voted on. So it is hardly “blocking the path for others and forcing others to pray with them”.

          • George T

            JackDupp: I didn’t say it was blocking the path. That seems to be your opinion given that you voiced it. I can understand your reason for seeing it as an unnecessary path. I assert that the activity is unnecessary and divisive. Better to replace it with a moment of silence.

  • Sam Stone

    It seems clear that their goal is to push prayer on all the citizens rather than to the right thing and have moment of silence or nothing. Given that the Supreme Court has ruled on this issue, I suggest that they follow the advice of FFRF and avoid a future lawsuit.