The village of Carey, Ohio (pop. approx. 3500) is about 60 miles south east of Toledo. Known for Limestone quarries and The Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, the town is your average small town. It is unusual for a Mayor of a small town to make waves and in this case trying to defend the US Constitution caused such a fuss that the mayor decided to resign rather than argue or deal with threats from those in town looking to institute Christian style Sharia law.
Both Carey Mayor Armand Getz and Law Director Emily Beckley, who said they have received threats after the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer were not recited at the last council meeting, announced Monday they are resigning, effective April 1.
During Monday’s meeting before a packed council chambers, Carey Council voted unanimously to have resolutions prepared to allow the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence, rather than a formal prayer, at the beginning of council meetings.
Getz announced at the March 6 meeting the pledge would no longer be recited. At that meeting, Beckley also recommended the same for the prayer, based on her research of a Michigan village which was sued over reciting the prayer during the council meeting. She recommended, based on her research, council dispense with the prayer to avoid any potential lawsuit.
He said it was his decision, not the law director’s to stop reciting the pledge and the Lord’s Prayer. Beckley was asked to research the prayer issue.
“My decision was based on another’s perspective if attending one of our council meetings. Would they feel comfortable refraining from saying the prayer or Pledge of Allegiance, or would they feel coerced into participating despite their personal beliefs?”
“Reciting the prayer at our council meetings is not a religious test nor is reciting the Pledge of Allegiance proof of our patriotism, nor should they be.”
Threats against elected officials over not saying the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer at council meetings? Seriously?
Some “good” Christian Americans in Carey are doing this? I expect it from radical Muslims overseas complaining about cartoons but not in Carey, Ohio.
The legal question around the 1954 version of the pledge has not really been settled but the legal questions around a specific prayer before legislative bodies has been settled by Town of Greece v. Galloway (2014) where the US Supreme Court ruled that if the body has time for a prayer then it needs to open the time to all of those who wish to give a “prayer” and the body may not prescribe the content of the “prayer” or discriminate against the “prayer” giver.
I also know several veterans and they didn’t serve a pledge or a flag they served a country by orders of their commander-n-chief. Disrespect comes from not taking care of the needs of veterans when they come home – it doesn’t come from not saying the 1954 pledge or waving a flag.
I do commend Mayor Getz and Law Director Beckley for at least trying to get the council to act in a way that represents all the citizens of the city of Carey and not just a subset of people who obsess over symbols.
Requiring the reciting of a pledge or a prayer does nothing to make people better legislators nor does it cause them to act in the best interests of their constituents. Based on the reported outrage it seems the activities are only seen as loyalty checks which isn’t something you expect in the land of the free. I’m also troubled by the fire department showing up to take a side on the issue.
There is old adage that actions speak louder than words. Maybe the emotional anger over two symbols could be redirected into something productive like actually helping veterans and spending more time considering the needs of the whole community.
Also published on Medium.