The mayor of a Michigan community refuses to buckle under pressure from an atheist group’s demand to remove a reference to God in the city’s mission statement.
This from MLive.com:
HUDSONVILLE — The Hudsonville City Commission will continue to “strive to serve God,” despite a Wisconsin-based group’s demand that it remove the phrase from its mission statement, the mayor said today.
Mayor Don Van Doeselaar says the statement “strive to serve God” reflects the Hudsonville community.
“We are not creating a church; we are not asking anybody to only accept what we have in that mission statement,” Mayor Don Van Doeselaar said. “If there are those that disagree, we are fine with that. It’s a statement that reflects the community.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which asked the city to remove the phrase, said it might consider legal action.
It “is not the business of a city in our secular republic to ‘strive to serve God,'” the group wrote in a letter to the city early this month. “A city should have no religious beliefs.”
Van Doeselaar said he consulted with city attorney Dick Wendt, who determined the city was within its rights. The mayor said he also talked by telephone with the six other commission members. All agreed to keep the phrase, he said.
“We feel that we are not violating the principles of the separation of church and state,” the mayor said. “As it’s been pointed out to us by legal counsel, you see phrases like that in the pledge. In currency, you see, ‘In God we Trust.’ From time to time, our president will address the nation and end the address with the salutation that says, ‘God bless America.'”
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of Freedom From Religion Foundation, disputed Van Doeselaar’s arguments, saying the original Pledge of Allegiance and the country’s first currency did not include those references.
“He’s relying on Johnny-come-lately additions to our country that do not reflect our heritage,” she said. “It’s a godless Constitution, that was our founders’ intent, and he (the mayor) took an oath to uphold it.”
Gaylor said her group cannot consider legal action unless a Hudsonville resident steps forward to file an official complaint.
The original complainant didn’t want to be identified, she said.
May I point out that it was not the U.S. founders’ intent to have a “godless Constitution.” Their intent was to avoid any opressive religious powers rule the land…something they had seen in Europe. However, they full well understood the importance of a faith in God. What many people misunderstand is that there is a difference between religion and faith. Religion is a man-made system. Faith is about a personal relationship with God as we understand Him.
It’s about freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.
“Do not let any one claim to be a true American if they ever attempt to remove religion from politics.” – George Washington
“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” – James Madison
“That I am not a member of any Christian church is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular….I do not think I could myself be brought to support a man for office whom I knew to be an open enemy of, or scoffer at, religion.” – Abraham Lincoln