The Social Action Committee of The Humboldt Unitarian Fellowship strongly supports the separation of church and state as articulated in the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of California. We feel that the founding fathers were firm in their belief that government should operate without the influence or participation of the church. Many of them represented people who had come to the colonies to escape religious persecution in their home countries.
Therefore, we support Carole Beaton in her suit opposing sectarian religious invocations before the meetings of the Eureka City Council and the official sponsorship by the mayor of Eureka of a Mayor's Prayer Breakfast. ("Tough on Prayer," Jan. 31.)
We also support Beaton's suggestion of an alternative opening of council meetings such as a moment of silence. Our own practice is to open meetings with the ringing of a small bell and the lighting of a chalice which ushers in a moment of silence when those who want to pray can pray, those who want to gaze at surrounding beauty can do so, and those who want to think can think. The purpose is to create a mindful, serene, peaceful atmosphere from which meaningful activity can proceed. A similar practice which does not impinge on the beliefs or non-beliefs of anyone might serve the purpose of the council as it begins its work each week.
We advocate for an alternative to prayer at City Council meetings and for private sponsorship free of governmental attachment of an annual prayer breakfast if someone or some organization feels the need for it. This is the model used in Washington where a private Christian organization sponsors a National Prayer Breakfast and invites the president to speak.
Brad A. Meiners, Arcata