Clark County commissioners, by a 2-1 vote, adopted a resolution on March 19 to implement a two-minute invocation before each of their weekly meetings (“Board invites clergy of all faiths to pray at meetings,” March 20, The Columbian).
The measure has problems. First, Pew Forum statistics for the state of Washington indicate that 25 percent of the state’s population is not affiliated with any religious institution. The commissioners will alienate these Clark County residents. In the Clark County electorate of 241,000-plus, those non-affiliated with religions are likely in excess of 60,000 registered voters.
Second, Commissioners Tom Mielke and David Madore refused to require that invocations be non-sectarian, which virtually guarantees that priests, ministers, and pastors will violate constitutional strictures set up in federal courts.
Third, secular organizations undoubtedly will institute suits for violations of the First Amendment to the Constitution, taking up enormous amounts of staff time and legal costs. These monies would be spent better on works for the citizens of Clark County.
Fourth, the hard feelings engendered through implementation of this divisive measure are something we don’t need.
Fifth, the resolution wording allows “clerical and related representatives from all faiths” to present invocations, which obviously excludes non-affiliated secular citizens.