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Arizona mayor forcibly removes Jewish rabbi who objected to Christian-based invocation

An Arizona city council has drawn the line when it comes to their Christian-based invocations, even going so far as to eject a Jewish protester who didn’t want to pray to Jesus Christ.

Image: Ken Sain (The Daily Courier)

An Arizona city council has drawn the line when it comes to their Christian-based invocations, even going so far as to eject a Jewish protester who didn’t want to pray to Jesus Christ.

Rabbi Adele Plotkin, of the Beit Torah congregation, was outraged when Mayor Chris Marley began an invocation with, “I pray all these things in the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” during Tuesday’s Chino Valley city council meeting.

When Plotkin began voicing her displeasure with their choice of prayer, two Chino Valley Police Officers escorted her out.

According to The Daily Courier, Marley, who is also local minister, announced in January that the city council will not preform invocations during future meetings until the members can figure out a way to conduct the services due to recent criticism against the practice in government centers.

Plokin, who had no intention of causing trouble that night, contacted a local reporter to confirm that there wasn’t an invocation planned for Tuesday’s meeting

“He lied,” Plotkin said of the mayor’s reversal during an interview with the Courier. Plotkin insisted that she had no choice but to protest because in not doing, she would have committed one of the three cardinal sins, according to her beliefs.

Reports also claim that Marley intentionally preformed the invocation after hearing some of the city council members egged him on to do so.

“Unfortunately, the content of the invocations offered here in Chino Valley has become the subject of some contention, so we — your town council — will deal with it,” Marley said in an opening statement.

“Our Bill of Rights protects us against the establishment of religion by the state, and yet it would appear that secular humanism with its mantra of political correctness has become just that, the state established religion which the First Amendment was supposed to protect us against,” Marley said.

The council discussed at length eight different options on how to conduct invocations in the future. However, they ultimately reverted back to their current tradition of rotating invocation duties between council members.

“If they don’t like it, they can vote us out,” said Marley.

Watch the events unfold in the video below:

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Mike Davis

    February 12, 2016 at 3:43 am

    So now Jews are “secular humanists?” I hope someone in the local Jewish community has the money to sue the living hell out of these self-righteous “Christians.” This is exactly what happens when right wing religious fundamentalists gain a majority in local politics and force their personal religious beliefs on the general public, many who do not share their religious ideology. Why is it even necessary to conduct a public “prayer” at a city council meeting? For the simple act of proselytization and religious control.

    The “great” Ronald Reagan knew it:
    “We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.” – Ronald Reagan in speech in 1984 to community leaders in Valley Stream, NY

    Not good enough? Read the notes from Jefferson’s autobiography regarding the exclusion of Christian language from our Constitution:
    “Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word ‘Jesus Christ,’ so that it should read ‘departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion’ the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it’s protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.” (Thomas Jefferson autobiography July 27, 1821 – Library of Congress)

    Sue them!!

  2. themadcreatornc17

    February 12, 2016 at 7:45 am

    So I guess he completely ignored Jesus injunction on public Prayer in order to be seen by men, he should be sued and lose his office.

  3. marecek

    February 12, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    “The council discussed at length eight different options on how to conduct invocations in the future. However, they ultimately reverted back to their current tradition of rotating invocation duties between council members.”

    Uh, was one of the options the most obvious and the best one – NO invocation?!! Why on earth does there need to be an invocation before a town hall meeting. It is a civic institution, and they are conducting a civic meeting, not a church or religious meeting.

    “Our Bill of Rights protects us against the establishment of religion by the state, and yet it would appear that secular humanism with its mantra of political correctness has become just that, the state established religion which the First Amendment was supposed to protect us against,” Marley said.

    This is incoherent gibberish if I ever heard it. A person who is abusing his position as mayor to inject religious doctrine into a civic institution and meeting defends himself by claiming that otherwise there would by state establishment of religion. Exactly how stupid does he think we all really are? A secular state is not a religion, however many times they think that repeating that lie will change that reality – it won’t. Preventing religion from becoming part of state institutions was precisely what the establishment clause was meant to do. It is not that case that to insist upon respect for the establishment clause is itself the establishment of religion.

  4. alexander

    February 12, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    L-A-W-S-U-I-T !!!!!

  5. marecek

    February 12, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    I’m a bit confused by your last point about Jefferson commenting on the Constitution, specifically the Preamble. The Preamble to the US Constitution reads as follows: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” In other words, there is no language in there even remotely related to what Jefferson was talking about: “Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion”, so I am not sure what this quote really concerns (perhaps an early draft of the preamble, and this language was left out entirely latter). Also, Jefferson was our Ambassador to France in 1787, so he did not even participate in the Constitutional Convention. Perhaps Jefferson is referring to the preamble of some other document.

  6. Mike Davis

    February 12, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    That’s a good point, @marecek. The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was first drafted in 1777 by Jefferson and lay dormant until it was introduced to the Virginia General Assembly by James Madison in 1786 after Jefferson had gone to Paris in 1784. Jefferson and Madison agreed on the bill and worked together later on the U.S. Constitution.

    The quotation refers to the preamble of The Virginia Statute which is the basis of our U.S. Constitution, the 1st Amendment and the Bill or Rights, and the Constitutions of most of our states. Jefferson penned the clarification in his autobiography after there were those who tried to misinterpret the intent.

    And how can Christian fundamentalist evangelicals ignore their own “inerrant” scripture from Matt 6:5-8 which says:
    5“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 7“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8“So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

  7. Stuart Kaufman

    February 12, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    She’s full of crap! This woman claims to be a “rabbi,” but she is part of the Reform movement, which broke all connections with Judaism 50 years ago. As an Orthodox Jew, I have been present on many occasions when Jesus is invoked. I stand quietly, in respect for the faith of others in the room, without any concern that somehow it will taint me. My suggestion to this so-called “rabbi,” walk out of the room if you are so offended. As a Jew, I am ofended that she calls herself a “rabbi.”

  8. Stacy Griser

    February 12, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    Why does there need to be any kind of invocation before a government meeting?

  9. XaurreauX

    February 12, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Secular is for grownups.

  10. Jen

    February 12, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    As a Jew, my first thought was why this “rabbi” would pick such an unnecessary fight. Why start something with the only people who stand up for us? American Christians are good people. You don’t have to pray with them but it’s not going to kill you to just stay quiet for a minute or so. I work at a Christian hospital. During their prayer sessions, I usually just surf the web on my phone. It’s not a big deal and nobody says anything.

  11. Jesus Christ

    February 12, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    As always, the Bible has the answer. These “Christians” need to go back to Sunday school.

    Matthew 6:5

  12. Samella Williams

    February 12, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    So, because she is a Reform rabbi she is not entitled to be concerned that so-called Christians are pushing their religion on everyone who is not?

  13. Kevin

    February 13, 2016 at 2:31 am

    “…the Reform movement, which broke all connections with Judaism 50 years ago.”
    Wait, what? That’s not how members of Reform Judaism see it. There are so few Jews, is it really necessary to reject 1.5-1.8 million who share so much in common with you?
    Otherwise, I agree, it’s easy to just stand quietly and let the moment pass, but by exposing an elected official who sees the religious rights of non-Christians as mere “political correctness,” she’s made a point.

  14. Mike Davis

    February 13, 2016 at 3:56 am

    Which is EXACTLY why there should be a moment of silence to allow each, in his/her own way, to communicate with their image of God, Yahweh, Jehovah, Jesus, Santa Claus or iPhone rather than a “forced” prayer of personal interpretation in a public venue where participants are unable to conveniently leave. And if you are able to leave a crowded room, how do you know the prayer is over without listening from the doorway? Public prayer is an effective method of ostracization or inclusion, which is the point.

    In a way, I feel sorry for these believers who think that their “Jesus-God” is the only one (a common thread among all religions of the world) and that they must invoke their image of the deity in the presence of non-believers. Even a “generic” prayer was acceptable for decades in which pastors and leaders had the common sense and decency and respect to pray to an inclusive “God” rather than to Jesus Christ (who the evangelicals believe IS God – never mind exclusive language in their scriptures to the contrary – and hence is addressed by name).

    And why is it necessary to pray at a public gathering? Do they not believe that God has their back without praying? Evangelical Christians like to claim they are being persecuted (some of their God-speak language) when they pull stunts like this. What part of Matt 6:5-6 do they not understand?

  15. edhare

    February 13, 2016 at 3:59 am

    I think that the answer is simple. If it is known to the town government that the majority of those that attend or participate in the meetings are Christian, it would be appropriate to open the meeting with a Christian-based invocation. No one is forced to say it, they can just listen respectfully while people seek their own guidance to help make government decisions.

    The leaders could then ask if anyone else wanted to offer a 1-minute prayer or invocation, to ensure that everyone present has an opportunity to speak out loud their own request for divine guidance.

    The rabbi was not ejected for being a jew; he was ejected for disrupting the meeting. I would think that if had instead asked in a meeting with the town leader that for future meetings, he also be allowed a short period of time to invoke his belief in God in a jewish prayer, he would be allowed to do so in future meetings. That is at least a better way to start the process than disrupting the meeting in progress. We have every legal right to redress our government, not to disrupt it.

  16. Mike Davis

    February 13, 2016 at 4:52 am

    I respectively disagree. What is wrong with a moment for a “silent prayer?” What is wrong with omitting any prayer? Why must we invoke the deity before a public meeting in ways which offend some? Where is the scripture that says we must pray in public at a meeting convened not for worship but for government business? This is clearly an EXclusive process which “Christians” are using to demonstrate piety (and hence control) in a mixed group in order to gain (or force) consensus on non-religious issues. “…you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen…when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret…”

    You can pray in your home, in the shower, in your car, in your office, in the restroom. Jesus always went off to pray alone – in the desert, on the mountain. We have no record of Jesus praying in public. Even the Lord’s prayer was to a closed group of disciples. That Jesus never prayed aloud is evident from the fact that his disciples had to ask him how to pray. They had never heard him in public.

    Much of religious practice was created by the evolving church and is not based on scripture but on tradition. There is NO scriptural basis for public prayer.

    What could possibly be clearer?

  17. startingover1

    February 13, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Your stupidity and ignorance are astounding. Please just shut up.

  18. jerrypritikin

    February 13, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    As a kid in Miami Beach Florida, we had to listen to Christian Prayers over the Public Address system 5 days a week in the early 1950s. That was before the Supreme Court said it was unlawful. A few years ago at MLB Winter Meetings, I protested when their diner started off with a Christian Prayer… they stopped doing it,but not before inviting a Rabbi the next year . His invocation was generic and did not offend anyone!

  19. Randy Morris

    February 14, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Well…that meeting began with naziesque precision.

  20. XaurreauX

    February 16, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Secularism is for grownups.

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