SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Dozens are pushing back with words of support after a supervisor in Michigan came under fire last week for posting Scripture and a prayer on his Facebook page following the terror attack in Brussels that killed over 30 people.
Rick Stathakis, the supervisor for Shelby Township, posted a Bible verse in response to the deadly assault on Tuesday, quoting from Psalm 46:1-2, which reads, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the Earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…”
His post also included a prayer for those affected by terror in Brussels.
“Mighty God, Shine your radiance into every corner of this dark and fallen world. Send your angel armies into Brussels, and heal the land,” Stathakis wrote. “Hear the prayers of those who call to you, calm them with Your peace, and soothe the souls of those who lost loved ones in this attack. Amen.”
But after the supervisor published the status, he was met with criticism by those who asserted that he had violated the separation of church and state.
“As a government official, it is unconstitutional for you to use your official position to promote the establishment of faith. It violates the most basic legal principles of the United States of America. In addition to being unconstitutional, it is highly offensive to your constituents. Please remove all religious references from government materials and keep your faith to yourself,” one commenter, Rafael Saakyan, wrote.
“Why didn’t you post a prayer for the Ivory Coast? Since you’re in a praying mood. I guess Al Qaeda gets a pass since all they did is kill Africans. Keep your prayers between yourself & God,” another with the screen name Thomas Ivory wrote.
But others who learned of the criticism pushed back to show support for Stathakis, largely outweighing the critics.
“So President Obama says ‘God bless America’ when concluding a speech, acting as president, but people claim you cannot offer up prayer on your personal page. Sir, they are wrong,” wrote commenter Mary Weeks.
“May God bless you for your boldness in acknowledging that God is our only refuge and hope in this fallen and sin cursed world. Keep praying, Rick, and stay true to your convictions,” wrote another named Rick Willms.
“I personally don’t believe in God, but you have every right to talk about your religion. This is America and you’re allowed to believe in who you want and able to talk about it publicly!” remarked commenter Jenna Pett. “Thank you for praying for those in need. You’re a great man.”
Stathakis says that he also sees no issue with his post and will not back down.
“It’s my webpage. It’s my personal webpage,” Stathakis told WWJ-TV. “And what’s really sad is it’s not about me, it’s about the people in Brussels. It was just a simple prayer asking God to be at their side, and all of a sudden now it’s become pointed at me.”
“I’m very shocked by all the attention I’m receiving,” he told reporters, noting that not all response is negative. “I’m encouraged by the support. I’m getting hundreds of people writing into me, emails and different posts.”