COOLIDGE, Ariz. — Just a week after council members in an Arizona city voted to move forward with a proposal to allow only Christian prayers to be presented at meetings, the council has now unanimously voted to abandon the idea.
As previously reported, Coolidge Councilman Rob Hudelson, a Baptist minister, had proposed the idea as the council was considering a resolution to allow religious groups in the area to present a prayer, message or moment of silence during meetings. According to reports, Coolidge currently has been absent any invocations since 2007, when interest from local clergy faded out.
Hudelson pointed to the nation’s Christian history in making the motion.
“I think it’s very important,” he stated. “We just proclaimed Constitution Week. You know what was said at the end of the [Revolutionary] War? A treaty in Paris that said, ‘In the name of the most Holy and undivided Trinity.’ You don’t get that from the Quran. You get it from the Bible. You get it from Christianity.”
“That’s our heritage,” Hudelson continued. “We should not be ashamed of it, nor should we be pushed into a corner because of Supreme Court decisions. The first prayer in Congress ended by saying, ‘Thy Son, our Savior, based on the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior; Amen.”
The Coolidge City Council voted 4-2 last Monday with one member absent to have attorney Dennis Fitzgibbons provide draft language and counsel as to how the concept might be carried out.
But some objected to the idea, including Mayor Jon Thompson, who is a professing Christian.
“I’m not willing to get the city of Coolidge sued over an invocation,” he said. “We’re stepping into territory that might lead us into litigation. I don’t want to bring us any more problems.”
Following criticism over the matter, on Monday, both Hudelson and Thompson—along with all members of the council—agreed to discontinue with the plan. It then voted to move forward with the original proposal to allow leaders of all religions to present invocations at city council meetings.
“History will look back on us and say, ‘There is a city council who stood for Christ and Christ alone,’” Hudelson said prior to the vote, according to the Associated Press. “For that, we should never be ashamed.”
The outlet also reports that Byron Sanders, pastor of Fairhaven Baptist Church, had asked for the original proposal, which permitted prayers from all faiths.
“Christianity has always been inclusive,” he asserted at Monday’s gathering. “Christians settled in America to give everybody an opportunity.”
According to the office of the chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, the first prayer of the Continental Congress was presented on Sept. 7, 1774 by Jacob Duche of Christ Church of Philadelphia, and was delivered in the name of Jesus.
“O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the kingdoms, empires and governments,” he prayed, “look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee.”