The List That Decatur And Macon County Were Not On

 

Editor Paul Osborne

     I received a news release last week from the Illinois Department of Transportation concerning road construction lanes that were being re-opened, where possible, for the Independence Day holiday, to minimize travel disruption. Construction on the non-emergency roadwork resumed this past Monday.

     I also received a list from IDOT regarding the road construction lane closures that would remain in place during the holiday weekend. Guess what? The list included 130 road construction sites in Illinois — but not one of the 130 was in Decatur or Macon County!! About all state roads in and through Decatur and Macon County are in the saddest shape that I’ve ever seen — and I’ve been driving on these roads for a long, long time.

     Don’t we have any pull in Springfield? Why are we continually ignored? Or, are we? I look forward to receiving a list of state road construction repairs in Decatur and Macon County.

     The advice of IDOT at the conclusion of its message was “Please buckle up, put your phone down and drive sober.” That’s good ad-vice. You need to buckle up to keep from being thrown out of your car when you hit one of those big potholes in the pavement!

     • MY VIEWPOINT column this week (in the print and online editions) is about how many people are offended by some words, actions and symbols. Some government bodies, including our own city council, have stopped using a prayer at the start of their public meetings because someone might be offended and the city will get sued. For years, the council opened its session by having a local minister, or member of a congregation, come to the podium and offer a prayer.

     I remember the night I was sworn in to start my first term as mayor, the minister of my congregation delivered the opening prayer, which I appreciated. Some of the problems with that tradition started creeping in, or were already there, when I became mayor. There was an attempt, because of possible legal action against the city, to advise ministers not to end their prayers with “In Jesus name, Amen.” Apparently, naming Jesus as part of the prayer was a sticky point.

     A lot of this started happening during the time I was in office although I never offered the opening prayer for the council meeting so it wasn’t because of anything I did during the opening. When word got around that the ministers who were scheduled to pray at a meeting were asked to not use Jesus’ name at the end of the prayer — I received several calls from ministers and all basically had the same complaint: “If I can’t ask the prayer in Jesus’s name, there’s no point in saying it.”

     Conservative Christians, and others, believe prayers are asked in the name of Jesus, God’s son, and it certainly is the way I have always prayed, privately and publicly. I told the ministers to pray the way they wanted to pray.

     Eventually, after I left office, I’m not sure how long, the prayer was eliminated, I assume because of the potential for legal action against the city, or that it was difficult to get a local minister to pray without mentioning the name of Jesus.

     • THERE WAS (maybe still is) a sensitivity, not only in the city council meetings, but some public gatherings, against a leader offering a prayer in Jesus’ name. As mayor, I was asked to offer the opening prayer at the Community Leaders Breakfast, after saying a few words of welcome. When I offered the prayer I asked, as I believed, in Jesus’ name.

     I was never asked to offer the prayer again. The following year I was asked to lead in the Pledge of Allegiance which I did for most of the years that I participated as mayor — unless I was one of the speakers on the program. I can’t say with any evidence that I was switched to the pledge because of my prayer’s ending but I did wonder at the time, especially when the city leader who did offer the prayer (who was of the same faith I was) said only “amen” at the end.

     It may have been just a coincidence and the program’s director thought I did a better pledge than prayer. (smile)

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