Stand-off on over council meeting prayers
THE debate over saying a prayer before council meetings continues in the Tweed, with council's general manager Troy Green questioned over his stance on the issue.
In a letter to the Tweed Daily News on Saturday, Murwillumbah resident Andrew Bennett said reports Mr Green had remained seated at the August 3 council meeting was "an obvious statement toward the inevitable removal of the divisive prayer”.
But Mr Green said Mr Bennett and others should not read anything into his decision to sit down at that council meeting.
Instead, Mr Green said he had actually read out the prayer at the meeting in question as a guest minister was not available.
"When a minister is not available I read the prayer,” Mr Green said.
"The mayor said that we could stay seated. Out of respect for the mayor, I stayed seated.
"I don't need to stand or sit to pray. I am happy to pray by bowing my head and saying Amen at the end. So he is wrong to say that I didn't support it.
"I actually read the prayer, while seated, with my head bowed and saying Amen at the end.”
Mr Green said he believed the prayer was "a long-standing tradition that shows reverence” and which generally asked for guidance for the elected body to make good decisions.
"I don't find anything offensive about that,” he said.
Mr Green said it was up to the elected body to decide whether or not the prayer should continue.
Debate about the appropriateness of prayer at council meetings has been raging in neighbouring shires including Lismore and Kyogle for some time, while the Byron and Ballina shires start their meetings with the national anthem or welcome to country.
At the latest council meeting on Thursday, August 17, Councillors Katie Milne, Chris Cherry and Ron Cooper all sat for the prayers and the welcome to country, while Mr Green and the remaining councillors stood as per usual practice.