By Daniel Mallett
I wanted to comment further on the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast since I didn’t have much time to do so when I made the previous post. On March 29 2011 the Mayor of Edmonton, Stephen Mandel, participated in the 16th Annual Edmonton Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. According to their website, the Guest of Honour is our Mayor Stephen Mandel and the Guest Speaker is William Franklin Graham IV — the grandson of Billy Graham. As I wrote in the prior post, if Mandel wants to go to a prayer breakfast that is his right as a private citizen; but in his official role as representative of the City of Edmonton he has no business endorsing an evangelical association. Why? 1. Because in so doing he is lending the city’s stamp of approval to a particular brand of Christianity. Mandel represents the city. And the city does not and should not endorse Billy Graham style evangelical Christianity. 2. Nothing fails like prayer. If you stepped onto a plane and saw the pilot start praying would you stay onboard? Praying for our city and our government implies that Mandel is incompetent in his leadership and requires the divine intervention of Yahweh in order to do his job. 3. It is divisive. The Jesus that the Billy Graham’s of this world worship is not a force for peace and unity but of division and war. Jesus reportedly said, “I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword” (Gospel of Matthew 10:34). Any monotheistic belief necessarily excludes all other religions. For our mayor to support this particular group is a slap in the face to all other believers and non-believers in our diverse city. 4. It is discriminatory. Mandel has now put his office in the dubious position of having to cater to every religious or irreligious group in the city or risk discrimination. He cannot favor one branch of one particular religion. So if the SEA invites him to a fundraising event (which we should) he must attend. 5. It is a waste of time and a misuse of his office to be the draw for a fundraising event for a particular branch of Christianity. That money is going to support the spread of Christianity. Not something that I as a citizen support. 6. It is hypocritical. Mandel is a Jew. Christianity has been the strongest force behind anti-Semitism on this planet and is in no way compatible with his own beliefs as a Jew. He is showing a character that will pander to any group in order to garner votes (not surprising for a politician). 7. It betrays a lack of respect for the principle of separation of church and state. I understand this is not law in Canada; but as a politician he should understand that mixing religion and government never ends well. When will SEA stand up to fight for what is right in our locality?