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Prayer Added to Rutland Township Annual Town Hall Meeting Agenda

Area townships hold annual town hall meeting. Rutland Township includes prayer on its agenda.

Rutland Township’s annual town meeting will begin like any other of the township meetings held this month, with a welcome and call to order.

The third item on the township’s agenda is what has people calling the Rutland Township supervisor’s office.

Rutland Township trustees voted recently to add a prayer after the Pledge of Allegiance.

Trustees were discussing the agenda for the town meeting last month when Trustee Steven Schuldt brought up the topic of adding prayer to the meeting, Trustee Bulla Swanson said.

It’s something previous Rutland Township boards have done, said Supervisor Margaret Sanders. Other groups start their meetings with a prayer, she said.

Schuldt's argument was that if it’s good enough for Congress, it’s good enough for us, Swanson said.

“I am a Christian. I go to church. I pray all the time,” said Swanson, who voted no. But “I don’t care if Congress prays or not. I don’t feel we need it on the township level.”

Rutland Township has tried prayers in years past but the idea did not last long, she said. “They have not learned from it.”

Township meetings usually involve paying bills and creating the occasional ordinance, she said.

“There is no law against having the prayer,” Swanson said. “I personally don’t think it’s right. I just don’t think it’s needed.”

Rutland Township residents may have no idea that prayer was added to the agenda. The notice published in local newspapers did not indicate a prayer would start the meeting, Swanson said.

Trustees will find pastors to give the prayer or may ask one of the trustees to lead the prayer, Sanders said.

Rutland Township includes portions of Huntley, including Sun City, up to Kreutzer Road.

Rutland Township’s meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Eagles Fraternal Order building, 325 Raymond Drive, Gilberts. The items on the agenda include mosquito abatement and assessments.

Word has been spreading about the township’s prayer policy and has drawn questions from some residents. Swanson, however, doesn’t feel it is a big controversy.

“It’s no big deal, it’s just the idea it’s been tried and it didn’t work,” Swanson said. “Why do we have to go through this again?”

Grafton Township, which covers areas north of Kreutzer Road, also is holding its annual town meeting at 7 p.m. at Heineman Middle School, 725 Academic Drive, Algonquin. The agenda includes presentation of township financial reports and highway commissioner’s annual financial report.

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Greg in Huntley April 10, 2012 at 12:21 PM
If the board thinks prayer is helpful to them they should not be forcing those attending the meeting to pray with them using their personal form of prayer and beliefs. Even within the Christian church there are many different beliefs and symbolic words. If not very carefully implemented prayer sessions can be deemed illegal; and the township, us as tax payers, will be open for an expensive law suit. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that legislative prayers are constitutionally permissible if, but only if, they do not use language or symbols specific to one religion. Furthermore, prayergivers at legislative sessions may not exploit the prayer opportunity to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief. Even apart from using sectarian language, there are many ways that legislative prayer might impermissibly proselytize, advance, or disparage a particular faith. Those who do not wish to be present for a prayer must be allowed to leave and may not be excluded from participating in the rest of the meeting. And those who do not wish to stand or bow their head for the prayer must be allowed to remain seated and must not otherwise be penalized for their nonconformity. A prayer practice may also be unconstitutional if a legislative body selects prayergivers based on their faith or excludes some faith groups from offering prayers. Please keep public prayer out of our meetings!
Betty Darow April 10, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Greg, Your reply to prayers at the township meeting was very well written. Anyone can say a prayer silently from their hearts if they wish to do so. Betty
Bob Marcom April 10, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Oh boy, the PC police are rolling again. I lived in Hawaii for almost 20 years and never went to any kind of local government or community meeting that was not opened with a prayer. Asking for divine guidance and wisdom before a meeting was just the way to do business. We're a Christian nation founded on Christian principles with a Pledge of Allegiance that says "....one nation under God..." I respect the fact that that could be offensive to some and I believe it's there right to move to another country in that case but not to try an sanitize our country.
Greg in Huntley April 10, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Bob, "...One nation under God..." does not imply that the US is a Christian nation. Many faiths that are not Christian believe in God. Therefore concluding that the U.S. is only a Christian nation and non-Christians should leave is just plain arrogant. If I interpret the policies correctly that the U. S. Supreme Court have stated then asking for "divine guidance and wisdom" in general at a meeting probably is just fine, but asking for "Christ's divine guidance and wisdom" would be out of bounds legally.
TJ April 10, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Please try to attend this meeting as the residents of Rutland Township will have the ability to improve the quality of life in the summer by voting for a Mosquito spraying program. And no this will not raise our taxes- the Township can can and should spend some of the $600,000 plus reserve on a modest spraying program, that will cost about 12-15 thousand per year; for this small outlay we all will experience a less buggy backyard. website: http://www.rutlandtownship.com/Township/Docs/Board_Agendas/Public_Notice_for_Annual_Meeting_2012.pdf
Jim Darow April 10, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Jim Darow I agree with Greg's observations.I'm not aware of any proclamations or documents that identifies the USA as a Christian country. Millions of citizens acknowledge their belief in the existence of a Diety in ways that are not based on Christian principles ,but are nevertheless religious. It is my opinion,that to suggest that those who do not accept the Christian tradition should consider relocating to another country is "un Christian" and , I would submit, contrary to what Christ would have suggested. I feel confident that my friends who advocate Jewish , Unitarian, Buddhist, Muslim, Sikh and other traditions feel safe in being able to follow their traditions in the USA. The initial conversation addressed offering a prayer prior to a municipal meeting. Judgments and recommendations beyond that, including my own ,are an unnecessary. digression .

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