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A moment of silence
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On Tuesday night, the Turlock City Council stood together, bowed their heads and sent a clear message to those who would try to stop them from beginning every meeting with a prayer.
Their unanimous decision to continue to pray before every meeting continues a cherished tradition carried on by Turlock councils since the very beginnings of the city. I know Enoch Christoffersen would be proud.
Although I am a Christian and prayer is a part of my daily life, I have to wonder if they made the right decision.
I have been to many a city council and school board meeting where the opening prayer made me uncomfortable. I caught myself looking around the room for any obvious Sikh or Muslim attendees who might be feeling left out.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in prayer and I think our elected officials — especially in these troubling times — should seek council from a higher power before making any decisions. But by having the prayer said out loud and led by a designated person, it makes talking to God feel like a mandatory prerequisite to be a part of the proceedings.
I believe there is a compromise — a moment of silence.
A moment of silence allows each individual to pray to their own god or to no one at all.
Praying in private, while together in a group, can be liberating. It allows you to pray for help for a specific issue, without drawing attention to the problem. I’m sure every city council member has a few pleas for help from the Almighty they’d rather not air in front of the entire council and everyone who watches the council meetings live, on the Web or on public access television.
For those who do not pray, a moment of silence can be time to take a deep breath and clear one’s head before proceeding with the tasks ahead.
Some may say that a moment of silence is a compromise in faith. I disagree. Living your life every day by the principles of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ are the way to Christian faith, not a public display of piety.
Others may think that a moment of silence lacks the reverence of prayer, making it superficial. Again, I disagree. In a world where everyone is connected by cell phones and the Internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week, taking a minute to be completely silent is not a small thing.
Don’t believe me? Just try it. Right now.
Were you able to clear your head and talk with God, or were you thinking about your Farmville crops?
Collectively taking a moment out of our busy lives to focus on what is important is becoming a rare thing. Gone are the days of contemplating right and wrong over an iced tea while rocking in a chair on your front porch. If we do not make ourselves take a break, then we will eventually crash — just like my ancient computer does every deadline day.
While I do not begrudge our elected officials the opportunity to talk to God — especially before any discussions on the homeless or the Carnegie Arts Center — I hope they will reconsider silent, but powerful reflection instead of public and exclusionary prayer.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.