Religion and Wheeling City Council
A front-page article
Yesterday’s edition of the Wheeling News-Register covers some of the reactions to the recent letter by the Freedom from Religion Foundation to the Wheeling City Council concerning the prayer at the beginning of its regular meetings. The first is a front-page article by reporter Alan Olson on the controversy. Even though only the first third of the article is about Reverend Darrell Cummings’ views, the title features him:
Reverend ‘Concerned’ Over Wheeling Prayer Response
Early in the article, Cummings summarizes his views:
I definitely think we need more prayer.
Okay, that’s not surprising and Olson allows Cummings’ to support his position. (Here, I would have liked some balance: how about comments from the WV ACLU?) The rest of the article attempts to document some of what happened during discussion of the topic at Tuesday’s council meeting including the reading of a secular prayer. Here, the article is not very clear; has city council adopted a new policy? It also features extraneous comments by some who attended.
Editor Mike Myer weighs in
In previous posts, I’ve frequently noted that our local editor’s favorite form of argument is the straw-man fallacy in which he either makes-up or misrepresents a Democrat’s/environmentalist’s/liberal’s argument and then proceeds to attack it. In yesterday’s column, Myer uses a slightly different approach: he gives us eight unlikely scenarios in which he could see the Freedom from Religion Foundation objecting (They’re not “straw men,” they’re “straw arguments.”) Here, for example, are four of them in his opening paragraph:
Is Wheeling City Council pondering an ordinance requiring all city employees to be Roman Catholics? Are they asking the Methodist Church to collect taxes for them? Have they decreed that only Jews can vote in municipal elections? Have they ordered the police department to double overtime parking fines for Muslims?
Myer tells us that Council is not considering any of the above, but they have opened meetings with prayers which is why FFRF has written the letter. Myer belittles FFRF because prayers pail in comparison to his highly-unlikely straw scenarios. Unlike the FFRF, Myer ignores the First Amendment’s establishment clause that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” And unlike Myer, City Council apparently understands the First Amendment’s establishment clause, what the courts have said about it, and is trying to deal with it – they’ve moved to opening meetings with a non-sectarian prayer.
Maybe Mike Myer has a different copy of the Bill of Rights than the rest of us. He doesn’t mention the establishment clause here and when he writes about the Second Amendment and gun control, he never mentions the qualifying phrase at the beginning of that amendment:
A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.