Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Court Battle Over Prayer @Meetings

Article details the court battle over prayers given at Greece Town Board Meetings

Retaliatory behavior used against these women:

" ... Greece not only refused to change its ways, prompting a lawsuit, it became openly hostile to Galloway and Stephens. In October 2007, Pastor Vince DiPaola opened a meeting with a direct attack, saying those who oppose prayer before government meetings are “in the minority and they are ignorant of the history of our country."

And ... :

"Both Galloway and Stephens were disappointed by the defeat, and Stephens took it hard because she experienced “quite a bit of flak for sticking my neck out about this issue.” She said someone came by her house during the night, dug up her mailbox, and placed it on top of her car. In another incident, part of a fire hydrant was thrown in her pool. She also said she received an anonymous letter suggesting she leave Greece, and several people in town stopped talking to her."


Anonymous said...

This is how Greece works. If you don't drink the kool-aid you are attacked

Anonymous said...

If someone's God is telling them to do these hateful things (hydrants in pools, mailboxes on cars) then they are listening to the wrong voice in their head.

Anonymous said...

I am familiar with Linda. She is a former school teacher who was married to a retired Greece Cop. Who unfortunately died of cancer not long ago. Frank was a Vietnam veteran who thought he survived the war. He was wrong as Agent Orange came home with him.
Ever since his death Linda has involved herself in situations that she had a passion for. At one time she was an environmental advocate and labeled a TREE those politicians in this county who did not share her views. She was and still is very out spoken and has a habit of rubbing the power base the wrong way. This latest prayer situation is an example of the extremes she is willing to pursue when she feels she is right.
While I admire her tenacity , sometime she can become her worst enemy. A fact she is fully aware of. She is no stranger to disappointment and criticism . But these latest acts directed at her by immature cowards hopefully was not done at the hands of the God fearing members any congregation in our town. For if this is the case they are not just Hippocrates but sinners in the eyes of their God.

Anonymous said...

It really isn't just religion that causes this problem it is political conformity too.

Anonymous said...

i don't see the relevance of the comment at 2:48. You don't have to be a saint to protest, or to point out a wrong. The problem is how protest is treated in the town of greece.

Anonymous said...

No hold on just a minute here...

Several people in a town of 100,000 stopped talking to her?

That is simply horrible.

She should not have to endure such catastrophic revenge attacks like this against her.

Poor lady.

Dave Garretson said...

I applaud the courage of Linda Stephens and Susan Galloway, who took a difficult stand on an unpopular principle. We need more like them, who are willing to stand up and call it as they see it. And when they do, more of us need to stand with them.

Unfortunately, our community usually answers its critics with abusive and downright creepy behavior.

On occasion, I've publicly questioned the actions of local leaders. In public, the response is stone cold silence. Away from the public eye, I've received anonymous phone calls and letters, and experienced vandalism at my home.

Cowardly behavior thrives when we are willing to stay home and keep silent. Next time you see a maverick saying something you like, why not support them with a sign in your yard or a letter to the editor.

SCATS said...

To 7:55AM ~~ Apparently your tiny mind stopped reading before you got to the part about the vandalism at her home. That's so typical in this town, very predictable ;)

Anonymous said...

Yes, let's shun those we disagree with. It's the Christian thing to do.

Anonymous said...

readers of this blog should know that there are punk vandals crawling all over this town. My mailbox was smashed and knocked over once an a buddy of mine found a set of golf clubs in his pool. And it's certainly NOT because we support Linda Stevens! Random vandalism happens! People also stop talking to those that they are opposed to - especially on issues as emotional as faith. Get over yourselves people!

SCATS said...

To 12:54PM ~~ Of course there is rampant vandalism, unless SCATS says there is ;)

Interesting how there are always so many coincidences with those who speak out against the powers-that-be and soon they are subjected to a "random" act, unwanted phone calls & possibly worse ;)

Anonymous said...

Lard, it's me Larry.
If yall ain't too busy with all the things you have on the Godplate this weekend, could ya see your way clear to reach down and smite a few politicians here in the Town of Greece, Monroe County?

I mean good gravy, there's admitted fornicating going on by some of them and then they sit unrepentant right there at that head table of theirs lookin all last supperlike while somebody rambles on claiming to be talking to you.

Not only that, they went and upped the price of dog licenses. It just ain't right even requiring licensed for the creatures you gave us with your name in mirror.

If you have an extra second you might ponder slapping them School Dsitrict folks too, they won't even mention your name, and they are all in favor of that homosexual activity.

Fact is you might want to set a few Democrats straight too. Not mentioning any names but one of them wanders around public gatherings asking people to vote for him and won't even admit being a Democrat.

NOT only that, we got a whole lot of people running around claiming to represent you here in Greece who just ain't right either, just in case you didn't notice.

Lightning bolt over there at Town Hall might get a little attention, you know all your work flooding yards here ain't set anybody straight, the lightning might though.

Sorry if I rambled.

SCATS said...

To 11:53PM ~~ Congrats, you really outdid yourself this time. Thanks for the laughs ;)

Anonymous said...

Let's put it in the familiar perspective - Linda Stephens and Susan Galloway are bullies.

Anonymous said...


The article that you cite fills in some valuable details, but I'd say it also misfires on some of its analysis. It is important to understand where, e.g., Auberger is wrong, as well as where the plaintiffs and their advocates are wrong.

I'd say Auberger is wrong where he states "We do not control the content of the prayers given, nor do we place restrictions or guidelines on these prayers." The town *should* give general guidelines to their chaplains, and not re-invite those who ignore them. Military chaplains have such guidelines, and they work well, and are available to anyone who wants to use them as a starting point for Town policy. Congress has chaplains as well; I suppose that their standards are publicly available though I don't know for sure.

The plaintiffs, critics, and authors of the article (the three groups are portrayed in the article as being in broad agreement) are off base in a number of detail issues, like being asked to stand. Politics is about forging unity, and being asked to stand in a political meeting is an expression of that unity, a statement of belonging. Those sorts of things matter.

As for the list of clergy being overwhelmingly Christian, well, is that a consequence of discrimination? No mention is made of any Imam or Rabbi asking to deliver the invocation and being refused.

As for the Atheists objecting to invocations of God more generally, well, historically speaking the tradition and accepted practice upon which our polity is built includes supplication to a Lord of providence and judgment. Those two doctrines were not abstracted from broader Judeo-Christianity by accident; they are specifically the doctrines that matter in God-state relations considered apart from individual relationships with God. The tradition has God guiding, directing, and blessing nations, but also judging and condemning them. Hence these two doctrines (providence and judgment) define the God of non-sectarian community prayer.

As for Pastor DiPaola, if all he said was that those who oppose prayer before government meetings are “in the minority and they are ignorant of the history of our country”, without specifying prayer to Jesus, then he is technically correct. The article tries to paint him as a villain (he "opened a meeting with a direct attack"), but the charge is unsupported by the given quote.

The proper solution, of course, is not less prayer, but more. Practice makes perfect, or where it falls short of perfection practice still fosters improvement. Let's have more non-sectarian prayer (e.g. in schools) so that we can learn to do it right.

PS your spambot protection wants me to type in "666" to post my message...

SCATS said...

To 11:01AM ~~ If they are, maybe they learned it from attending Greece Town Board meetings with Auberger in charge ;)

To 11:23AM ~~ Well-written piece. Thought provoking too. Thank you, even though I think you are way off base on a number of points. Maybe that's why you got that "666" in your verification?? lol

On a personal note, I can tell you that the first Town Board meeting I attended under Auberger's watch (years ago ... and it had been quite awhile since I attended a previous meeting), I was absolutely stunned, shocked and left feeling almost mortified by the prayer delivered! I couldn't believe it was permitted!! Invoking the names of "The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" at such a meeting was something I have never heard anywhere else, but at Greece Town Hall and in a church. This happened long before anyone brought this to court, too. But then again, from my experience, very few bother coming out for the 10 minute rubber stampers monthly social.

I've yet to see that any of our politicians have bothered to extend an invite to the Korean Church or other groups that provide services within the Greece community ... but they somehow managed to bring in the Wiccans to make a point once they were in legal trouble. No wonder Greece is a complete laughingstock in Western NY. It's an image that's well-deserved.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I missed it but I don't recall the term supplication in the declaration of independnce or the consitution. It's been a while but I don't think I recall it in the federalit papers, or in any or Tom Paine's writings either. Supplication has no place in a democratic government and certainly not in its civic culture. If you want to supplicate at your own church feel free to project your own fear of a stern authoritarian father figure who spanks you and threatens you with hell. Even christianity is pretty broad in its ideal figures. If I want a Christian figure to idolize I'd go with mary -- magedeline that is. But I would not ask my fellow democratic citizens to supplicate to her or anyone for that matter.

Anonymous said...

The term "supplication" may not have been there, but exhortations to collective (as opposed to merely personal) supplication are certainly prominent among the founders.

That said, there is also alot of controversy about some quotes for which only secondary (rather than primary) sources are available. Then again, every single sentence that we believe to have come from Jesus rests on secondary sources...

Anyway, a few examples:

"It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge to Providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and to humbly implore His protection and favor." George Washington

"If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity." Daniel Webster

"We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that 'except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.' I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel." Benjamin Franklin

"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever." Thomas Jefferson

"It is fit and becoming in all people, at all times, to acknowledge and revere the Supreme Government of God; to bow in humble submission to His chastisement; to confess and deplore their sins and transgressions in the full conviction that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and to pray, with all fervency and contrition, for the pardon of their past offenses, and for a blessing upon their present and prospective action." Abraham Lincoln

Now I'll grant you, if you want to quibble, that [a] Abe Lincoln was not among those we consider "founders", and [b] the quote given refers arguably only to personal supplication to God. I'd respond by saying [a] in some ways, the nation was not truly founded until the issue of slavery was resolved (hence the once popular idea that reconstruction was the "birth of the nation"), and [b] at the time of the speech (during the War) Lincoln was communicating to the nation about collective guilt over slavery, not individual guilt.

SCATS said...

To 5:25PM ~~ Thank you for reminding me of why I detested Social Studies so much in school.

Anonymous said...

SCATS, you must have gone to a good school! I never learned any of this in school, I had to discover it as an adult when confronted by folks saying things I thought couldn't possibly be true, except that upon inspection most of it was...

SCATS said...

To 6:48PM ~~ I think it was a very good school. Thanks for noticing ;)

Anonymous said...

None of these statement appear in The constitution or the declaration, Citizens are not supplicants,

Franklin was a deist who did not include belief in the divinity of Jesus or salvation in his core beliefs. Regilion for him was an instument of social utility that is in promoting secular values like patriotism (civic virtue more than piety)

Washington was a deist too

Anonymous said...

8:17, you haven't been following the thread(s). It's not about what's in the constitution or declaration, it's about how properly to pray or invoke God in political or governmental settings. The founders, of whatever personal faith (and none were publicly Deists as that term is understood since they all professed belief in providence) all had a remarkably consistent practice of petitioning and fearing a God of providence and judgment.

SCATS said...

To 5:59AM ~~ Thanks for trying to pull this discussion back down to the level of mere mortals :)

Anonymous said...

Lard, it's me Larry again.

Real sorry to be bending your ear like I am, and I'll admit I did have my fingers crossed the other night with all the lightning, but I guess you figured Greece taxpayers don't need the expense of repairing Town Hall. The rain you sent last night was real appreciated too, BethAnn's maters appreciated it more than I can say.

Thing is Lard, me being just a simple man, well you know, you created me, I'm all confused with all the bedsheetsin and fancy words in all them sermons and dedications and meting opening prayers. You know I ain't a snake handler but why is it so many of the fellows here who claim to be speaking for you use all them fancy words and talk down to us folks? Do they think they're impressing us regular folks with them fancy words and big cars not to mention the overpriced suits?

Might just be me common man Larry seeing things from my daily labor viewpoint on the end of a shovel handle, but them preachin fellows and them politician fellows and a lot of them school office fellows have got to looking way too much alike and talking in words only they are good enough to understand.

Seems like with all them big words they ought to be able to run things right around here, but we got way too many kids thinking life is all about playing with all that sports stuff.

Well, I don't want to be tying you up, figure you got more important things to do than listen to Larry, so I'll just sit back in the Barcalounger, and wait for your answer. By the way, that broke spring pulled right out of that chair with ViseGrips just like you said it would in that dream you sent me.

PS, I done some looking over there at Town Hall. There's a whole lot of parking lot that little politician fellow with about 23 hairs combed over his head crosses between the building and where he parks. I figure you could nail him square in the head with a small bolt and not do more that 25 or 30 bucks of damage to the parking lot.

That's about it tonight