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Is Thomas Jefferson's famous "wall of separation between Church & State" relevant in Collin County?
Tonight (September 21), the Collin County Commissioners Court will meet in special session to hold a budget hearing and conduct other business.
They are not meeting in their brand new Jack Hatchell Administration Building. Instead, they're going to church.
The meeting will be held at the First Baptist Church in Melissa. I find that troubling.
I find the choice of meeting place troubling because it is in a church when there are many other suitable government buildings in northern Collin County. I find it especially troubling because it is being held at First Baptist in Melissa.
Since 2002, the pastor of First Baptist is the Rev. Trey Graham. Graham, an unabashed social conservative broadcasts a radio talk show on a Christian Talk Radio station that co-mingles political and spiritual themes. For example, last week's program was a discussion of President Obama's health care plan and the upcoming race for Texas Governor.
His blog, Faith Talk, often interviews government officials, sends questionnaires to candidates for local office, and campaigns in local option elections. During the last presidential election, Graham wrote several articles praising Sarah Palin and criticizing Barrack Obama.
In 2006, Graham wrote in his blog that, "As a pastor, my calling is to help others find God and find a place of service in God’s kingdom. My desire is to persuade followers of Jesus Christ to live for the Savior outside the walls of the church, letting their faith guide their politics. I believe our county, state, and nation would be well served by having faithful Christian believers in positions of political influence."
Last year, the commissioners court appointed Graham their county "chaplain". They also paid him to moderate workshops designed to formulate new mission statements.
You don't have to be a 'knee jerk ACLU'er' to be concerned that the choice of meeting at FBM is disturbing. This is a church led by a pastor who is a political activist, and who has worked hard to influence policy on local, state and national issues.
The Reverend Graham is welcome to his political views, he has a right to them... but the County Government represents ALL the citizens in Collin County and ought, no must, keep its affairs at arm's length to that of any church.
And yet the voters permit this fiasco. Hell I hope this idiots stop all construction and steal all the money! This county would deserve it!
Heaven forbid someone might see a cross there.
And Scot, just because the Ku Klux Klan considers itself to be a faith-based organization doesn't mean all white Southern Christians are bigots; only the racist ones.
It sets a bad precedent. County business should be conducted at a county facility - not a private entity, which is what a church is. I'd have the same objection if the meeting were held at Collin Creek Mall or someone's house.
And why would a person of the Jewish faith be considered "hostile" because he/she doesn't want to have stuff shoved in their face about a different faith? Besides, almost HALF the "Founding Fathers" were Unitarians ... look it up. And please, people, quit this faux-theocracy crap speech. It's demeaning to others...
Thank you for your comment. I have read many interpretations of the Danbury Baptist letter.
My chief objection to the meeting in Melissa Baptist is that the pastor is a political activist with an agenda. The county government is getting too close to that church - they have hired the pastor to do workshops and have appointed him 'chaplain'.
I suppose you know that Jefferson was no Christian and that he abhorred the political exploitation of religion.
There is an interesting analysis of Jefferson's motives and the different views that contemporary Republicans and Federalists had concerning the expression of religion in public life on the Library of Congress's website http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danbury.html
The Library of Congress page points out that:
After he wrote the letter to the Danbury congregation, Jefferson wrote to his Attorney General, Levi Lincoln explaining that he had two motives in writing the letter to the Baptists.
First was to issue a "condemnation of the alliance between church and state."
The second was to take the opportunity for "saying why I do not proclaim fastings & thanksgivings, as my predecessors did"
Thanks again for your comments.
I wish you good luck.
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