Friday, January 2, 2015

#NewsBham - Mayor Declares Winfield Alabama "City Under God!"

According to a Marion County newspaper, The Journal Record, Winfield, Alabama's mayor, Randy Price and the Winfield City Council have declared their city to be a "City Under God."

In an opinion piece praising the Council's declaration, which appears to be penned by The Journal Record staff, Mayor Price is quoted as saying the state and nation is in "an awful condition" and that the nation needs to come back to God, that God is the owner of the city and that the city acknowledges him.

"Some were fearful that outsiders will raise a fuss; we haven't heard any. We think it is a nice gesture. True, some bad jokes may result. ("God called. He wants to give the title back.") But truthfully, we like the idea that God is acknowledged and that he is given glory.

"Mind you, some of the other religions- or no religions- might fuss, but if our coins can say "In God We Trust" we see no harm in acknowledging the Almighty at Christmas. We think that the whole fuss about cleaning God from the spector [sic] of public service has been much ado about nothing. 

"In the same vein, this resolution may not change the city, either, but it will not hurt And, if anyone in Marion County deserves our thanks, it is him, for all he has blessed us with.

"At least that's how we feel."

A local resident who has expressed outrage over the declaration is drafting a letter of response and is contacting The Freedom From Religion Foundation.   

-Resident of Winfield Response-

Mayor Randy Price,

This is in response to your declaration of "One City Under God". 

First, please understand that I am writing this anonymously, in order to protect my family's safety. Secondly, the only information I have is from the Journal Record over the past few weeks, which stated in part "Mayor Price successfully pushing the Winfield City Council to declare Winfield as a "City Under God" and that God is the owner of the city, that the city acknowledges him, and that you feel the state and nation is in "an awful condition" that the nation needs to come back to God."

I apologize if anything is misconstrued. 
I would like a response detailing exactly what your declaration entails if you don't mind. Thank you in advance. 

I find it admirable for individuals to have strong beliefs they stand firmly by. I fully respect every individuals right to worship and believe as they see fit. Many people look to religion and their God/s for happiness and comfort. As our local paper simply states: "What a novel idea". I am all for it, what a bore life would be without the different expressions of each other. However, the moment an individuals beliefs interfere with the rights of others, my support stops. I believe we can all agree with the premise that one should not tell another person what or how to believe. Part of the greatness this country was founded on was that I will not tell you what to believe just as you should not tell me what to believe. That freedom is one set in stone long ago through Separation of Church and State. The moment a government declares a specific religion for its people, by default, is the moment that the government acknowledges other religions are wrong, thus making those individuals following that religion second class citizens. By endorsing religion, you clearly send a message to non-believers that they are not welcome and are outsiders to the community. Even the local paper "Journal Record" states that those who might disagree are outsiders; December 31, 2014- Our Views: "Some were fearful that outsiders will raise a fuss..." 

We should welcome ALL beliefs. It is a diverse world Mr. Price. To declare and endorse only your specific religion is selfish and wrong to those of us who look to you for proper leadership and integrity.

Every citizen benefits from the separation of church and state, although many Christians misunderstand its meaning. Allow me to clarify; separation is not a matter of being careful not to offend those people without religion or people who follow a minority religion. Nor is it an anti-religious principle. "Secular" only means "not based on religion"- it does not mean "hostile to religion". The purpose of separation is to protect religious liberty. As government becomes involved in religion, interpretations of the true meaning of "God" and "faith" inevitably drift toward one narrowly defined denominational vision. Many Christian denominations, including Baptists and Catholics, have actively supported separation to prevent their own religious identities being pushed aside by a different concept of God.

The Southern Baptist conference understood the point so well that it included separation of church and state as one of its founding principles. The Southern Baptist adopted, in their "Baptist Faith and Message", these words: "The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work... The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion." Only by consistently denying agents of government the right to make decisions about religion is our religious liberty secure.

Allow me to quickly give a few basic ideas that form the underlining of separation of church and state:
-Not all U.S. citizens hold the same opinions on religion and on important matters related to religion (like whether there is a God and, if so, what God's nature is; or, how or when or whether to worship God; or what God says to us about how to live). Everyone thinks he or she is right when it comes to religion. But not all citizens have the same beliefs on important religious matters.

-Secondly, religious truth cannot be determined by votes or by force. In the United States, neither a majority of citizens nor the government acting on the majority's behalf can make religious decisions for individuals. Anyone who might disagree with this idea should consider this question: If a nationwide vote were taken this fall and 99 percent of U.S. voters disagreed with you on a religious matter, would that change your mind? If 99 percent of the citizens wanted this country to adopt Catholicism or Methodism or Islam or atheism as the right religious point of view, would you accept their decision? Would that convince you? And it's not just voting, it's the law itself, the power of government, in question here. Just consider the poor guy in Afghanistan who was almost convicted and put to death in 2006 for the crime of changing his religious beliefs. 

Freedom, especially religious liberty, is worth having and protecting Mayor Price.