Portage (MI) City Council
10 June 2014
Tim Earl (300 words - 1:50)

In any diverse setting, prayer is by nature a divisive act. A public appeal to one god ignores and marginalizes all of those who believe in another god, or no god at all. While the City of Portage may have looked pretty homogeneous 50 years ago, today on my short street of 13 houses, we have families from many different cultures and traditions including Christians, Jews, atheists, Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs.

I ask you to remember that you serve all of these citizens, and to avoid infringing upon the rights of any group in favor of another. Wherever we say our prayers, or if we choose not to say them at all, we are all a part of this community, and we all want to see it thrive.

And so I ask you to set aside any differences you may have and work together for the common good. The different perspective each of you provides makes a positive contribution to the good governance of our community. Diversity of opinion makes any group, including this council and this city, stronger.

I ask you to excel in your role as leaders by demonstrating an unwavering commitment to hearing all sides of the issues that come before you and respecting those who have the courage to disagree or provide alternative proposals.

Democracy does not mean a tyranny of the majority. If we ignore minority viewpoints, we foster division and dissent within the community, which only grows worse as demographics change.

It makes no difference if your inspiration comes from the bible, the Torah, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Guru Granth Sahib, or Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason. We may have different beliefs regarding an afterlife, but our goals for this life should be the same: the peace and prosperity of our community.