Letters to the Editor: A MAGA minister prays for Huntington Beach? Heaven help Surf City
To the editor: There’s an easy solution to the controversy over religious invocations at the Huntington Beach City Council meetings — don’t have invocations. (“Scapegoating a kumbaya interfaith group? Stay classy, Huntington Beach,” column, March 6)
After all, only 47% of Americans are members of a church, synagogue or mosque, according to a 2021 Gallup poll.
While invocations at public meetings are constitutionally protected if rotated among religions, the Huntington Beach squabble demonstrates the unnecessary entanglement of religion with secular events such as city council meetings.
Bob Ladendorf, Los Angeles
To the editor: Though a lifelong agnostic, I applaud the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council’s participation in its city’s regular council meetings over the past 17 years.
Reflecting a wide variety of faiths, the interfaith council has shared invocations oriented toward bringing peace, love and mutual understanding to Huntington Beach. Each meeting’s invocation has been limited to one minute and has been free of proselytization and political messaging.
All well and good. That is, until the council’s new conservative majority took offense at last week’s seemingly apt invocation — to wit, reading of the iconic “First they came ...” poem by a 1940s German Lutheran pastor.
The ensuing uproar over 60 seconds of empathetic poetry upended 17 years of idyllic invocations. And it led new city council members to counter with a provocative four-minute invocation by an evangelical pastor who supports stolen-election fallacies and claims that “God put Donald J. Trump in office.”
All I can say is heaven help Surf City.
Roberta Helms, Santa Barbara