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To Pray or Not to Pray at Borough Hall Ribbon Cutting? That is Council's Dilemma

Should the new Borough Hall be the subject of prayers?


Members of Phoenixville Borough Council are wrestling with the question of whether or not members of the clergy should be invited to say a prayer at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Borough Hall.

The question came up Tuesday night during the council's discussion about a ribbon cutting event for the new building. A ribbon cutting is currently being planned to coincide with September's First Friday events on Bridge Street on September 6.

While discussing who to invite from the community, Council President Richard Kirkner said he would plan to invite some members of the local clergy.  Then he raised the question of whether clergy should be asked to offer a prayer during the ceremonies.

West Ward Councilman James Kovaleski said he could see that become a potential legal problem over questions about "the separation of church and state." It sparked a discussion among members of council over whether prayer should be allowed at an official township function.

What do you think?


Should the clergy be asked to offer prayer during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Borough Hall?

We want to hear from you. Join in the conversation in the comment section at the bottom of this article. 
Anti-statist August 16, 2013 at 03:41 PM
So if someone states a belief, or expresses such, that is shoving it down your throat? So, does that apply to every where? What about in court? On the public square? What exactly are you fall of ideas? Or is it jealousy of those that find solace in a being, a spirit that you can not comprehend? You sound like a brown shirt. Lashing out at anything that threatens the party line. If you wish to give a statement yourself , request a moment to speak. And to Tyler, it sounds that are espousing nationalism. The worshipping of a state, to the exclusion of other states. Like they tried in the Soviet Union. The official state religion is the state. Very curious. Hope that works out for you. As for the laughing, very mature. You might want to attend some sensitivity training to learn to respect others and have tolerance. Do you belong to some supremacist group? You sound very angry and hateful. I will pray for your soul.
Paul G. August 16, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Anti-statist, seems you cant keep from peppering your statements with insults and personal attacks. People do that when they don't have a strong argument. As to Tyler, you should be ashamed at your lack of respect for others beliefs. You don't have to believe in a higher power, but for you to encourage the mocking and harassment of those that do is despicable. In the case of starting the ribbon cutting with a prayer, I suspect a moment of silence in which people can choose to meditate, pray, or simply stand quietly would be more appropriate.
Tyler L. August 16, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Anti-Statist, you got me! I've been found out, I'm secretly a white supremicist Russian living right here in Phoenixville! How many people have you compared to Hitler lately? Very silly. Also, Paul, I wasn't trying to be disrespectful, every post I read in response to this topic was disrespectful. You know, the ones that called atheists childish whiners for instance. The question should be posed to the residents of our neighborhood, just what kind of community do you want to be a part of? There happen to be a lot of non-christians here (Im raising a family of them), and it's huge turn-off when I hear that something I would like to attend as a productive member of the team is going to have some jesus guy talking about jesus things. Honestly, I'm talking more about principle here than actually practicality, prayer doesn't usually offend me or ruin my day, I just don't see the necessity here. Don't you guys have big houses that you get together and do that in? What are those called?
Anti-statist August 16, 2013 at 06:12 PM
I do notl believe someone praying is SHOVING anything down your throat. What is it about a benign prayer that could upset a person so much? Tyler made an off the wall statement about, somehow being an atheist or a member of a made up organization as being a true patriot. It brought up images of how supremacists shout down others. Of how Isalamasists have been beheading priests and other apostates solely because of what they believe. We Majority Christians are very tolerant of other beliefs. There is cleansing going the middle east. There is an assault in this country on Christian beliefs from Obamacare provisions to bigotization of beliefs that have held true for thousands of years. So to act as we are the ones forcing anything on anyone is ludicrous . Progressives act so enlightened yet shouts down and insults anyone whose opinion differs from the politically compliant.
Paul G. August 16, 2013 at 06:17 PM
I don't disagree with you in principle Tyler, I just disagree with the way you expressed it. I am not in favor of prayer at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new borough hall either, and I am a Christian. I just think people on all sides of this issue should be able to discuss it respectfully, unfortunately for some, that is not always the case.
Paul G. August 16, 2013 at 06:24 PM
Well Anti-statist, you seem to be doing your share of shouting down and insulting people whose opinion differs from yours as well. No one objects to a benign prayer. What people are objecting to is performing a religious ceremony or "rite" at a public event to celebrate the opening of a building that is there to serve all the people, regardless of their religion or lack thereof.
Tyler L. August 16, 2013 at 06:47 PM
You're right Paul, I could've handled that better, I just saw that whiners comment and got a little snarky. If I legitimately insulted anyone, I'm sorry, I have to remember that this is a message board for my actual community, and not some totally anonymous forum elsewhere on the internet. That said, anti-statist, what in the world are you talking about? How do you know I'm a progressive who supports obamacare? (I am both of those things by the way, more evidence of anti statist's psychic powers)
Anti-statist August 16, 2013 at 07:36 PM
whiners indeed. Someone says a few sentences that happens to include the word God in it and we spaz out. Seems really dramatic. And dude, it doesn't take a FBI profiler to figure out where you're coming from.
Tyler L. August 16, 2013 at 08:27 PM
Nobody is spazzing out, and what does Obamacare, progressives and beheaded apostates have to do with the new building?
Anti-statist August 16, 2013 at 09:39 PM
Is rooted on an attack on all on all institutions that compete for influence with the state. The most basic structure in society is the family. Familial break down has been has accelerating since at least the 50's. The Church has come under an increasing assault during this same time. Individual self reliance, accountability, and had been increasingly replaced by state dependency. People become less able to care for themselves with out state assistance. Central planning has replaced local control as conformity is imposed on us. They revulate more and more aspects of our life. Most legislation does no longer come from our legislators. It comes from the bureacrats. Dear Leader legislates from the White House. Targeted assassination, NSA warrantless surveillance, IRS enemies lists, the militarization of all sorts of federal agencies. It is all connected dude. Been watching it come together for the last 40 years.
Anti-statist August 16, 2013 at 09:53 PM
It all starts with agitators sowing discontent. Class warfare. Don't let a good crisis go to waste. Divide and conquer. It all is right out of Marx's play book. Something as simple as a prayer. They guise their play as a means of fairness. To be fair to everyone is to do nothing. For the state is all we have in common. Life is never fair. We can not pray at a building commemoration unless we accomadate every single person involved. Ridiculous. Insidious.
Paul G. August 16, 2013 at 10:06 PM
Ok, well this conversation has totally deteriorated beyond repair. It amazes me that a conversation about the appropriateness of prayer at a civic event dedicating a government building devolved so quickly into a far right rhetoric attack. It's a shame people can't have a civil discussion anymore. I'm disappointed and no longer feel a desire to participate in this pointless conversation.
harryfinster August 17, 2013 at 01:09 AM
phoenixville is beyond hope,no amount of any religion will do any good
Jp August 17, 2013 at 09:24 AM
Paul, the fact that someone wants to pray is not shoving anything down your throat. What is it that you're afraid of? Jesus stood for love and compassion, yea that's something to be against, we wouldn't want to teach that!
Wendy August 17, 2013 at 10:53 AM
It's a matter of being RESPECTFUL....All forms of Clergy are an important members of and in the community. We already seen the ramification of the government taking it upon themselves to disrespect the community, Borough hall can show respect for the COMMUNITY.
Paul G. August 17, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Jp, If you want to force me to participate in a group that's being led in prayer by a particular religious affiliation, then yes, you are shoving your religion down my throat. It is not a matter of fear, it is a matter of respect for the entire community, not just a select group. As far as love and compassion, I haven't seen much of that in this dicussion. Wendy, it is a matter of respect for the community, and clergy is part of the community, but they are not the entire community. Your saying show respect for the COMMUNITY is basically saying show respect only for those that are christian. I don't consider that very respectful of the community.
Anti-statist August 17, 2013 at 09:28 PM
Well Paul, what could be put into the ceremony that would respect you and that would serve the same purpose as a prayer?
Jp August 18, 2013 at 02:44 PM
It's a shame that praying is so disrespectful?! I don't understand people.
Anti-statist August 18, 2013 at 05:56 PM
It because they have an agenda.
Colin A. Mattis August 18, 2013 at 08:21 PM
For whatever reason my comment will not take so I have posted it here: http://phoenixville.patch.com/groups/cure4apathy/p/prayer-at-excessively-expensive-new-building
Paul G. August 18, 2013 at 08:53 PM
Sorry Jp, you just don't get it. Praying isn't disrespectful, forcing others to participate in your particular brand of prayers is. I bet if the council invited in Imam to lead a muslim prayer at the ceremony instead of a Christian clergyman, you'd be all up in arms, decrying the inappropriateness of it and how you wouldn't want to be a part of a muslim religious rite!
Colin A. Mattis August 18, 2013 at 09:06 PM
I am going to hate myself for this but you have left me no choice. I really just want to dig in to the work I need to get done for my job so I can continue paying the taxes that fund this building and the “celebration” that has spawned this debate. Unfortunately I will now waste countless minutes espousing a position which will be completely ignored despite the accuracy and validity of each point. I will do so because it has been the unwillingness of others of a like mind to get involved that has allowed the current mind numbing hypocrisy of a few Right Wing zealots to suggest that disinterest in Christianity equates to some kind of attack on its existence. I don’t care what your beliefs are. It is none of my business. If you are my neighbor and you want to “share” with me your faith over the fence in our backyard while we both work on our lawns I will tell you “thanks, but no thanks”. I can be your neighbor, wish you the best and have no interest in what I consider to be an illogical perspective. It doesn’t mean I think you should stop believing whatever it is you say you believe. I would not in a million years dream of intruding on your personal space! It’s yours. You own it! That space between your ears that has found a faith that I do not believe in or agree with is all you. Enjoy! But PLEASE!!! Don’t come to these forums, blogs, online discussions or wherever and claim that somehow it is the Christians in the United States who are “under attack”. That is the most ludicrous statement you could possibly make. It is the Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, Fox News conspiracy machine that spews lies and hatred about how the secular Left or the Muslims, or the Government wants to come and take your guns and your Bibles and force you to stop calling it Christmas, and the myriad of other ridiculous suggestions that if you just thought for a minute about how hard it is just to survive day to day, to feed ones family, put clothes on ones children’s backs, try to save a little something for the now absurdly expensive cost that college will be when those same kids are ready, you might realize normal people don’t give a $#!% about who you pray to. Anti-Statist you say “The great majority of Americans consider themselves to be Christian. Being an atheist or agnostic is NOT a belief or religion. It is the absence of a belief. They can stand by respectfully as a blessing is given.” “The majority of Americans count themselves as Christian. The principle that applies is "When in Rome, do as the Romans." Why do you feel the need to rain on the parade?” My taxes helped pay for that building. I am sure yours did as well. What gives you the right to force me to listen to the preaching’s of people I disagree with? I am not asking you for anything. You assume by virtue of majority status that Christians have a right to something that those in the minority do not. (Yet I am sure when you argue against changes to the filibuster in the Senate your keystone is protecting the rights of the minority)
Colin A. Mattis August 18, 2013 at 09:07 PM
Continued from above: At one point you suggested that those who disagreed with you were Fascists espousing Nationalism and worshipping the state. You even went so far as to state “You might want to attend some sensitivity training to learn to respect others and have tolerance.” (Ah…hey pot, this is kettle, I think we should talk) Why can’t I respectfully disagree with your religion (just as I am sure you “respectfully” disagree with Non-Christians) and still call you friend/neighbor/fellow citizen/ally against foreign threats? Why must I “worship the State”? (Which by the way, is supposed to be me, and you, and the rest of our neighbors) I read these posts from my fellow citizens and I can’t help but think you want to be a Christian first and an American sometime after that. Again, be my guest. I can still be your neighbor/friend/ally, but doesn’t the whole concept “Out of many one” suggest that the realization of a “more perfect union” is more likely when we hold that which we have in common (like having paid the taxes to build that excessive building) over that which divides us (forcing each other to listen to the rhetoric that we find upsetting) In closing (and here we can all agree that my shutting up is the nature of mercy) please don’t further insult those who don’t agree with you by suggesting it is because we are jealous due to not having been able to “find solace in a being, a spirit that you can not comprehend?” The solace I find when I look into the smiling faces of my children is as deep and spiritual, and as satisfying as any communion that any faith can possibly offer. Just for fun: http://bit.ly/19s7ShL
Jp August 19, 2013 at 08:59 AM
Paul, do NOT tell me what I think or would do! God loves you too.
Paul G. August 19, 2013 at 10:20 AM
Jp for your information I'm a christian. I'll offer my opinion about anything I choose.
Kim Feindt August 20, 2013 at 05:06 PM
Could there be the general "moment of silence" that occurs as a way to acknowledge that some people may want to pray silently, and others might just want to take a moment to mindfully acknowledge an event?
Barnacle Bill August 21, 2013 at 11:23 AM
I believe that we have come to a time in our consciousness that some people do not believe and some do not. Ike is a firm believer but only in certain things. This is the way it should be. Everyone should defend their god, or their lack of god. Religion has always been strong on social control. I have been forced to re-evaluate my positions based upon the teachings of religious institutions. I was into god my whole life until recently and now I am questioning the existence of god. So to me I don't care if they say a prayer or not. Does not hurt? If there is a god it is helpful, if there is not a god, what is lost?
Colin A. Mattis August 22, 2013 at 10:27 AM
I could support Kim's suggestion of a moment of silence. In that way those who wish to pray can do so without interrupting those of us who wish to mourn the loss of our Tax Dollars.
Hassan Syed August 23, 2013 at 02:05 PM
I would like to attend. Is this going to a prayer led by religious leaders taking turns which coincide with their respective faiths?
harryfinster August 24, 2013 at 08:39 PM
the poor mennonites ,they established a small town in an idealistic religious ferver,now it has collapsed into a decayed ruin of materialism

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