Mielke, Madore vote in favor of prayer at county meetings

Clergy of all faiths invited to offer invocations

By Erik Hidle, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: March 19, 2013, 7:19 PM

 

Clark County commissioners will allow members of the community to pray before county meetings.

There are still some logistics to be worked out, such as how the scheduling of the prayers will be undertaken by county staff, but an invocation period during the county’s public meetings has been created with a 2-1 vote supported by Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke.

Mielke, who originally brought the issue before the board, said before voting that his intent is to be inclusive to all religions in Clark County.

“It’s one of those things that it’s good to bring to light that (we have) diversity … and recognizing all established faiths,” Mielke said. “It’s about bringing tradition that’s been held in our Congress, and our Legislature, back to Clark County.”

The final resolution as approved reads: “Now, therefore, be it resolved, by the Board of Clark County Commissioners that it invites clerical and related representatives from all faiths to join with them in presenting an invocation, for up to two minutes, to open its public meetings.”

The resolution continues, “This invocation time shall not be used to lobby or advance a particular religion or disparage any faith or belief.”

Madore said he would support the resolution as it welcomes both diversity and religious freedom.

Commissioner Steve Stuart voted against the resolution.

“Because of the divisiveness, because I don’t believe it is necessary to the work that we do in this house, and because the people don’t pay us to pray … I can’t support moving forward with it.”

Stuart spoke in length on his qualms with the prayer time. He said he felt uncomfortable offering a prayer at a location where people give public testimony, and also mentioned that he would pray in his own manner, and not in public.

Still, he told his fellow commissioners that he understood the reasoning behind the resolution, and made a declaration to the public that Mielke was bringing this forward with the best of intentions.

“Commissioner Mielke brings this with true heart,” Stuart said. “He is not doing anything to try to be divisive. And in every action he has taken to try to develop this resolution he has been looking at how can we make this more inclusive.”

Fifteen members of the public spoke on the matter before the vote, with seven coming out against the resolution, five in favor of it and three speaking generally or asking questions about the proposal.


Erik Hidle: 360-735-4542; http://twitter.com/col_clarkgov; erik.hidle@columbian.com.