Jesus In Lodi, California


In Lodi, California there has been a controversy brewing ever since a secular minded individual questioned the council's prayer before the meeting began which specifically invoked Jesus. The council had a pre-existing policy which limits prayer to non-sectarian and non-denominational.

On Wednesday of this week the council voted to move the meeting regarding this issue back to September 30th but that didn't stop the protesters, the majority of which were Christian, from coming out of the woodwork to voice their concerns.

Out of about 400 people marching outside the council meeting, 300 - 350 were members of various christian faiths who had converged to voice their outrage at what they misguidedly cited as the reduction of christian freedoms in America:

While holding a sign quoting Colossians 3:17, Lodi resident Angela Lopez said she is tired of freedom being taken away from Christians.

Where do I start? The issue is about a pre-existing rule regarding prayer which was put in place to assure that no citizen was excluded - christian or otherwise. It would seem that these people feel that being fair to everyone is somehow taking away christian freedoms, but it's not. It's just being fair.

"It's becoming harder and harder for the Christians. ... It's only because we support God that our country is as blessed as it is," Lopez said.

Her son, Eddie, also held a sign and a Bible.

"I came just to support Jesus," Eddie Lopez said. "Just for him to know I was here to support him."

Ms. Lopez's statement is a common one among christians - we made this country great, we should be able to pray to Jesus no matter what. It's the 'you owe us' mentality but the problem is, it doesn't hold up. I would argue that the stregnth of the constitution - a secular document written in large by non christians - has had a large hand in why this country is as 'blessed' as it is. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, it should be noted that the 'god did it' position is based entirely on faith and factless belief while my position is entirely based on historical evidence, though I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise that evidence isn't held in very high regard by these kinds of people.

Also in regard to Eddie, I have to ask - would your jesus really be so petty as to care about this issue? I don't think so, and a few local pastors in the area have been quoted as agreeing with me:

While standing between the two rallies, senior pastor Tim Stevenson of Horizon Community Church in Galt said he came to watch and listen.

"God's pretty big," he said. "I don't think he needs us to defend his name."

He wishes the energy spent by both groups at the rally could go toward bigger problems facing Lodi and the world, like the people standing in front of Salvation Army or the thousands of children who die daily from preventable diseases.

"There are too many things around the world that God told us to go out and do," Stevenson said. "We got our priorities in the wrong place."

Though in attendace as a minority, there were voices of reason at the rallies, people who came to point out the obvious to the christians who are evidently too concerned about their particular god getting first billing to do the christian thing and consider the position of others.

As the Lopez's gathered to sing prayer hymns, Lodi resident Steve Weiner said he wanted to make sure the council knew there were two sides to this issue.

"We have Muslims, Sikhs, atheists and people of various faiths, and they can feel excluded and intimidated at council meetings if there is a prayer to one God, Jesus," Weiner said.

And this is the whole issue isn't it? There is no such thing as a completely christian town and regardless of the size of the minority, the majority should never be given special privileges simply because they are a majority. The United States is not a democracy but rather a democratic republic - it is justice and representation for all, not just for the group with the most participants. When you have people who can't stand to hear a prayer without aggressively inserting their personal deity's name -

At the end, he said "Amen," which was followed by some members of the crowd yelling "in Jesus' name." During the Pledge of Allegiance, some members also shouted the words "one nation under God."

Then the question in my mind isn't why you can't say jesus in a prayer, but rather what about your faith is so weak that you have to force jesus into every prayer?