Pledge Wins; Prayer Loses

I’m headed north today, so we’ll just have a quick update on an issue we addressed a few weeks ago.

As the new Dane County Board reorganizes itself after the spring elections, there was a move to eliminate the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance before the board meetings. There was also a proposal to eliminate the word “prayer” from the “prayer or inspirational message” offered by a supervisor just before the Pledge.

As it turned out, there were only eight votes on the 37 member board to get rid of the Pledge, but there were only 13 votes to retain the reference to “prayer.” That’s less significant than it may seem. The board’s governing committee deftly defused that by defining “inspirational message” to include “prayer.” So, the change doesn’t seem all that significant to me.

But some supervisors, who wanted to keep the word “prayer” front and center did object on the grounds that, for them, a prayer to God is not simply the same as an inspirational message.

Fair point. I’m not religious. I don’t pray. But I respect those who do and I understand the difference between prayer and meditation. Was it really so hard to just show some respect and allow the religious members of the board to offer up a brief prayer — especially when I’m told that only one member actually did choose that option? What was the point in demoting the word “prayer”? What did that accomplish, exactly?

Want to read more curiously conservative views from a liberal? Pick up a copy of Light Blue: How center-left moderates can build an enduring Democratic majority.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

2 thoughts on “Pledge Wins; Prayer Loses

  1. Allowing prayer at an official government event seems fair to me, but my hope is that other religions beside the dominant one feel free (and in a sense obligated) to pray in their own way. Everything is so much easier for dominant cultures- and majority religious culture is certainly more offensive to the minority.


    1. I agree and, of course, there’s nothing about “prayer” that would be denominational in itself. In fact, the one supervisor who does offer a prayer tells me that he makes it a point to be nondenominational.


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