To the editor: A letter writer recommended that someone just hum quietly or look at a smartphone during a prayer at a public meeting if one does not wish to listen to a prayer.
I have been to numerous public meetings, and it would be disrespectful to follow these recommendations in the total silence that allows a prayer to be offered. I always listen to prayers to learn from the speaker or to reflect in a mindful way even if I do not adhere to the speaker’s religious beliefs.
However, I would like to propose an alternative: Why don’t the faithful pray quietly to themselves while the public meeting proceeds without a public prayer? As the letter writer asks, “So what is the problem?”
Susan Perlson, Brea
To the editor: Despite being a nontheistic humanist, I liked the Rev. William S. Freeman’s nonsectarian pre-meeting prayer.
If meetings and events were commenced with words of kindness and empathy, I believe such an invocation would put us all in a better place to listen to and respect others. Those who are offended that the reverend does not invoke Jesus are conveying their prejudice that such gatherings should be commenced with a Christian invocation, disrespecting the differing beliefs of others.
I have friends who are believers, and I understand the comfort they find therein. Personally, I think if we all believed that this is our one and only life, we would be more compassionate in all of our interactions.
Jana Shaker, Riverside