Huntington Beach

Mayor in charge of invocations

HUNTINGTON BEACH Mayor Tony Strickland.

By Jim Tortolano/Orange County Tribune

Each meeting of the Huntington Beach City Council begins with a religious invocation and not only will that continue, but the mayor will be the sole selector of who will deliver the invocation.

At Tuesday night’s meeting of the council, a motion by Mayor Tony Strickland to that effect was approved on a 4-2-1 vote. Councilmembers Natalie Moser and Rhonda Bolton voted in opposition and Councilmember Dan Kalmick abstained.

“This is the way they do it in the state Assembly and other bodies,” said Strickland. “The presiding officer picks who delivers the invocation.”

Moser had proposed to substitute a moment of silence in place of the invocation, in part on the grounds that the previous tradition of using a rotation of speakers from different religions – as recommended by the city Interfaith Council – had been replaced with the practice of having  the mayor make the selection.

Moser noted that despite the city’s “wide spiritual diversity,” all of those selected by Strickland were Christians.

Noting that there was no official policy giving selection choice to the IFC, he proposed – successfully – assigning that power to the mayor.

The topic of the invocation generated dozens of e-mails, and several speakers, most in favor of keeping the invocation. 

Public comments included the claim that “secularists, atheists and agnostics” were tools of the devil and another that accused some Christians of treating members of other faiths “like dirt.”

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