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Friday, September 05, 2014

Will You Say a Prayer For Northampton County?

Pastor Eric Schwartz
When Ron Angle was Council President, clergymen from all over Northampton County were asked to give a little invocation before each meeting. After they were done, they would say something about their Church and congregation. Not only were we exposed to a diversity of religious beliefs, but we managed to learn things about our community. It was a nice experience, one that has been practiced in Bethlehem for years. That experience ended with Angle's tenure as President. Instead of hearing different religious attitudes, we were stuck with a canned banal prayer, offered by whomever was President. Things got even worse when Glenn Geissinger was elected. A clergyman, he became the automatic preacher at every meeting. Though he certainly meant well, I hate the idea of a Council member leading everyone in prayer, which creates the impression that he and he alone speaks for God. I also resented hearing from only one denomination. So I stopped participating in April. Though I was the only one who refused to participate in what I considered a charade, several people approached me to say they agreed with me.

That changed last night.

Council has resurrected, so to speak, the practice of inviting clergymen from different churches to lead everyone in prayer.

Pastor Eric Schwartz of Gate Community Church led the invocation.. This church is located in Bethlehem's Banana Factory. "We don't want to just bless the community," Rev. Schwartz stated. "We want to be a blessing to the community." He noted the church volunteers every month to help the men's shelter at Victory House, and recently participated in a backpack drive to provide school supplies to children through New Bethany Ministries.

"We like our food, enjoy our families and love our God," said Pastor Schwartz.

After the meeting, Glenn Geissinger told me Council will be reaching out to different denominations for Council prayers, so he's probably saved my immortal soul.

Maybe one of them will take me.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Will Wiccans and the Church of Satan be included? God bless the slippery slope.

Anonymous said...

A better pairing, 6:13, to wiccans, seems to me to be freemasons, and neither of these should evoke the negative connotation that "slippery slope" does. Having citizens of such beliefs also on the slate to opening meetings would be refreshing.

Anonymous said...

Clear violation of separation of church and state as upheld by the SCOTUS. Reported to Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Anonymous said...

More of a sales job for these congregations than anything. As stated above, where will this end? What fringe religions will request to offer the invocation and if refused will that draw the county into a First Amendment lawsuit? If there is to be a prayer before each meeting then it should be rotated among willing council members. The prayers should seek to be as non-denominational as possible. I am a deeply religious person but do not feel the need for an invocation at a public meeting. Pledge to the flag? Absolutely. And don't forget that our pledge already contains a nod to the Almighty Being - "one nation, under God"...

Anonymous said...

Lehigh County does not offer invocations at its commissioner meetings.

Bernie O'Hare said...

This is consistent with recent Supreme Court rulings. I like the idea of reaching out to add diversity and really like the idea of having the church say something about itself. The county is mostly different Protestant denominations, so that is what we will see most of the time. But Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs will all be invited, according to Glenn. In fact, I intend to contact Glenn Geissinger and offer to help him with this outreach, if he wants it.

I am opposed to the banal meaningless prayer and to one Council member always giving the prayer. And unlike these anonymous commenters, I actually sit down during these prayers and refuse to participate.

I like the sales job for these congregations. It gives us all insight into different areas of the community.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Lehigh County does not offer invocations at its commissioner meetings."

That is true. Don't believe Allentown does, and I believe Easton has a prayer to Sal Panto.

I know very few municipalities in Northampton County who conduct a pre-meeting prayer. I am not offended if it is done right. By done right, I mean diversity and an opportunity for each congregation to say something about itself. That gives us all insight.

Anonymous said...

Waste of time. Those in the audience could be made to feel highly uncomfortable, especially non-Christians. But what do you care? Your salvation trumps the needs of others.

Anonymous said...

Practice should be stopped. No prayer at meetings. This is a far right issue.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Believe me, I was offended enough to refuse to participate in prayer by the way it was being handled. Do you know what it is like to sit there while everyone is standing, pretending to be holy? But I like the idea of reaching out to multiple churches. That satisfies my concerns, and more importantly,satisfies the concerns of the Supreme Court. The LV is mostly Christian, so I would expect the prayers to be mostly Christian. I am delighted when I hear from clerics of other faiths, so I don't expect non-Christians to be offended. So long as there is diversity and no single denomination is given preference, I have no issue.

Anonymous said...

Going to have to let the satanists have their turn. I imagine the first time one of the multitude of sex abuse victims at the hands of Christian clergy goes full PTSD while attending a meeting and heading the same words he heard while being raped is going to be a bit of a problem. The bible clearly days it's a sin to pray in public anyway. Why the hypocrisy?

Anonymous said...

WTF? Off the meds again?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"This is a far right issue."

Really? Is Bethlehem City Council far right? Do tell.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The bible clearly days it's a sin to pray in public anyway. Why the hypocrisy?"

There are numerous quotes stating it is best to pray privately and not be a phony about it, but there are also quotes saying one's entire life should be a never-ending prayer.

Anonymous said...

Matthew 6:1
"Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

Clearly, it's a sin and no true christian would ever sin.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes, I agreed, but added that the bible also states one's life should be a never-ending prayer.

It is not prayer in public that is sinful. It is the hypocrisy. To those who are sincere, there can be no sin. To those who are mildly interested and are just being respectful, there is no sin.

When pre-meeting prayer was handled improperly, I spoke out against it. Where were you then?

Anonymous said...

Many different interpretations out there, but ALL of them say praying in public is a sin...the word hypocrite is not even mentioned in many of these verses...

http://www.openbible.info/topics/praying_in_public

It doesn't matter if you spoke out, because ALL prayer in public is improper, and anyone who does so or supports it is a fraud as a christian.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Your argument is that "all" public prayer is a "sin". Of course, that's nonsense. There are numerous instances, and in the very Bible on which you rely, in which there is public prayer. In fact, the Lord's Prayer recited by Jesus was done publicly.

It is not whether the prayer is public or private that matters. What matters is whether the person is being sincere. That is why I like to see different pastors from different churches, mosques and temples. Their words are more sincere.

I will not presume to get inside the heads of everyone engaged in this public prayer. I'll leave it to you to call them sinners. All the more reason for them to pray.

Anonymous said...

Any Orthodox or the Ukies of West Easton invited? Eastern Catholics are represented heavily in Northampton County. I wouldn't piss them off. Couldn't eat in a diner or get any pierogies, if you upset them.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I would expect to see all denominations invited.

Anonymous said...

Why stir things up by potentially offending those in the audience? What is the benefit of having religious prayer at council meetings? It is an unnecessary gesture with no beneficial consequences.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Then by all means, go to Council, identify yourself, and make your concerns known as I did several times. This resolution is consistent with the latest Supreme Court ruling. People are unwilling to espouse a cause if they have to say who they are, so I doubt I'll ever see you there.

Anonymous said...

I post verse directly from the bible, and you provide your personal opinion... I believe that says it all.....

Bernie O'Hare said...

The Lord's prayer comes directly from the Bible ... and was recited publicly. I believe that says it all.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The Lord's prayer comes directly from the Bible ... and was recited publicly. I believe that says it all.

Anonymous said...

This is repeating the stupid pandering that was done for years. Enough. It was Stupid with Angle, it was stupid with Dowd and it is stupid with Geissinger.

You want to take a moment of silence and pray or not to your God or gods or lack there of fine.,

This is just the same political stunt it has always been. More red meat to the stupid base.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

Comments from the Blog Mentor on this or any topic are unwelcome. He can tell Bobby Gunther Walsh how he feels after he finishes rolling around on the floor, foaming at the mouth.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see RMM lead the invocation, can you reach out to him Boh?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

It is immaterial what denominations elected officials or Schwartz follow, and Schwartz' church is obviously nondenominational. You post your comment solely for reasons of religious hate, and several days after the story posted.