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Jonathan Kraut: In humans we trust

Democratic Voices

Posted: May 18, 2009 9:36 p.m.
Updated: May 19, 2009 4:55 a.m.
My wife always warns me not to write columns about God.

Sorry, dear.

As a member of the SCV Interfaith Council, active in our local political arena and offered a writing platform (thank you, Signal), I feel obliged to begin a discussion anytime religious and political considerations cross paths.

The Santa Clarita City Council voted to add "In God We Trust" to council chambers and other buildings.

The phrase could also find its way onto city letterhead, literature and so on.

The point is that instead of five officials deciding for us, the passage by the voters would be easier to swallow if the majority of us collectively stated that we believe in and have faith in God. Whether or not we agree with the phrase, the voters were robbed of the chance to decide.

Last Thursday the Interfaith Council celebrated the National Day of Prayer at noon outside City Hall. Those of a dozen religions and beliefs blessed our leaders in many languages and in many traditions.

As we held hands in a circle with our heads lowered in humbleness, I felt a great sense of connection and peace.

Through our wishing well to all and each other, no one could deny that we had instantly created our own special harmony. With respect for one another, and as equals with peace and love in our hearts, many faiths were as one.

I am not upset by anyone's personal proposal to proclaim one's faith in the almighty. Sitting as equals on the Interfaith Council are the broadest of perspectives and beliefs. Each faith's interpretation of God is different, and yet the council truly has risen above cultural and religious diversity to embrace a higher power: human power.

Whether or not God attends the Interfaith Council meetings or our prayer circles is unknown. He, she, or they have not answered roll call.

The council moves beyond the issue of God. Rather, the focus is on the issues and the council takes actions that can make a difference here on Earth by creating a better community and supporting causes that help, not God, but our people and our planet.

Councilman Bob Kellar the other night said, "We need to get back some basics that make this country great."

Hello, Bob: Remember our founding fathers left the Old World to get away from the imposition of religion by government?

Remember the separation of church and state?

What happened to lesser government role in speaking for us without a vote?

Does authorizing "In God We Trust" as an official endorsement make our citizens safer? No. Does it make us smarter, healthier, wiser or better? No. Does it make the many capable hands guiding and serving our community stronger or more able? No. Does it make God happier? I doubt it.

It doesn't actually mean a thing to write four words on a wall, in a room, in a building, in a modest city. This issue distracts us from the actual power and initiative that we do have.

It takes human ideas, interpretation and wisdom to write, discuss and debate Scripture and sacred texts. Human power is the common denominator required to conduct our discussions and thoughts. Regardless of where inspiration or holy messages come from, it is we humans that are the storehouses of ideas, keepers of holy books and perpetrators of beliefs and religion.

Five elected officials took away our right to decide if the city as a whole does or does not believe in God. There are those who will deny the existence of God.

Of course, those who may be offended by these words may be a minority, but at least the minority has a right to be heard and their views respected.

But no one, regardless of religious view, can deny that we are able to look out for each other. The question is: Should we include everyone as equal shareholders in deciding our future and what we as a city stand for, or do we exclude the voice and vote of some because they are different?

I would prefer that the City Council offer up for a vote "In Humans We Trust." The truth is, with or without God, we at least know that we have each other.

Jonathan Kraut is a Fair Oaks Ranch resident and serves in the Democratic Party of the SCV, on the SCV Human Relations Forum, and SCV Interfaith Council. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or other organizations. "Democratic Voices" appears Tuesdays in The Signal and rotates among local Democratic writers.


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