A group of Troy residents is seeking to oust City Council members who recently voted against letting a Christian group hold services on the grounds of City Hall as part of the National Day of Prayer.
Now, Judgment Day may be nigh.
The Troy Committee to Protect Free Speech formed earlier this month with the sole purpose of seeking to recall Mayor Louise Schilling and Mayor Pro Tem Robin Beltramini. The group is incensed at the pair’s votes in March and April to deny the Troy National Day of Prayer Christian Task Force the right to hold Christians-only services.
Councilman David Eisenbacher also voted against allowing the group to use city property for the May 5 prayerfest. He is not targeted by the recall push, however, because his term ends in November and state law prohibits the recall of elected officials in the last six months of their terms.
The three council members who voted against allowing the services have said that they didn’t want to be perceived as supporting Christianity over other religions. Apparently they haven’t noticed how well that tactic has been working for a fella named George Bush.
In the end, permission to hold the services was granted by a 4-3 vote. But the fight goes on.
Wendee Rex, president of the recall committee and prayer service attendee, insists that she’s not on a mission from God. She says freedom of speech is purely the issue. “We want to have leaders in Troy who support the Constitution,” Rex says. “It’s another one of our rights as citizens. It’s important that we uphold our constitutional rights.”
Neither Schilling nor Beltramini returned calls from News Hits seeking comment. But Schilling issued a statement. “It is not the role of elected officials to promote any one group or religion above another,” he said. “This is nothing but a thinly veiled political attack, and the residents of Troy are smart enough to see through Ms. Rex’s divisive, negative and politically motivated attack.”
Rex denies her move has any political undertones. “It was the issue that First Amendment rights were being denied,” she says.
Last week, she filed petition language with the Oakland County Clerk’s Board of Elections Division.
On June 6, says Ellen Davis Halsey, director of elections for Oakland County, there will be a hearing before the county election commission to determine whether the language is clear enough for voters to understand. At that point, if the language is deemed acceptable, Rex’s committee will have 180 days in which to collect the 7,344 valid signatures needed to put a recall vote on the ballot.
Eisenbacher says the issue of separation of church and state weighed heavily in his decision. “When it’s Christian-only, I don’t think we should be giving approval one way or another,” he says.
Besides, as he points out, the Bible thumpers got to hold their public confab with the Big Guy. “For them to go to this length for an issue that’s solved,” Eisenbacher says, “that’s insane.”
News Hits has submitted numerous prayers to Jehovah seeking guidance on this issue. We’d like him to tell us who’s right here. Unfortunately, as of press time, no stone tablets or burning bushes have been sent our way. We continue, however, to be on the lookout for stray lightening bolts.Send comments to NewsHits@metrotimes.com.