God’s name was mentioned at tonight’s Gilbert School Board meeting so many times, I think He descended to earth to see what was up. (The Gilbert Governing Board meetings had always been "off limits" to the sound of God’s name.)
The question being debated was: Should the Gilbert School Board bring the Invocation back to their board meetings? The answer was: Yes!
This issue had been brought to the board over a year ago by Staci Burk. It was voted down 4-1. After the most recent election, Daryl Colvin brought it to a vote, but it didn’t pass 2-2. Board President Staci Burk was in the hospital. Then, Julie Smith brought it up again, and it passed 3-2.
So, tonight, Ms. Segal, the GPS attorney, gave a blow by blow description of various court cases. The Resolution is jam packed with case law and Supreme Court statements that she said will minimize the exposure to a lawsuit.
The board voted 3-2 in favor of the Invocation Resolution. 17 citizens spoke in favor; 3 against. There were 31 comment cards submitted by people who were in favor but did not speak, and 2 were submitted by people who were opposed, but did not speak.
I don’t know the number of emails that were sent to the Board. Lots. This is a community that believes very strongly that we were all endowed by our Creator, and that we are a religious people who recognize a Supreme Being. Further, we have the right and the duty, to ask for our Creator’s guidance and blessing in a public forum. Most of the people who spoke were Christian, but they expressed a welcoming heart toward those of other religious traditions. "Let a thousand flowers bloom," stated a parent who learned that statement from a law professor.
Every person who spoke considered the issue from a slightly different angle. Many eloquent statements were made by each person. There were 4 high school students who spoke in favor. They understand very well that the issue is one of tolerance of religious expression. Brett Harvey, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, spoke in favor. Harriet and Bill Bathman, who spent 30 years as missionaries behind the Iron Curtain, also spoke. A J LaFaro, Chairman of the MCRC, spoke in favor. So did Glen Frakes, who taught in Gilbert Schools for several years. Patrick O’Malley, Gordon Ray, Gil Fidler, Anita Christy, Yvonne Hoskins, and Lina Hatch spoke in favor.
No one from the Freedom From Religion Foundation spoke. It was an extraordinary evening.
"It’s not ok anymore to be silent," said a young mother of four children who had never been to a Gilbert School Board meeting before tonight.
I know this sounds a little dramatic, but it almost seemed like God was present. It was as if He heard someone speak His Name.