“Give us this day…” Image stolen from KPCC without permission.

Matthew Leslie

Following the roll call and Pledge of Allegiance, the February 6th meeting of the Fullerton City Council opened with an invocation read by the school-aged daughter of presiding Mayor Pro Tem Greg Sebourn. The content of this invocation was a simple reading of the Lord’s Prayer, familiar to anyone with even a modicum of experience with Christianity:

“Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come.

Thy will be done in Earth, As it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory,

For ever and ever.


Not thirty seconds later, City Attorney Richard Jones, reported that in closed session the Fullerton City Council had voted 4-0 (Mayor Chaffee not present) to file an amicus brief on behalf of the City of Fullerton to support “the defendant” in a legal case brought by the Catholic Worker. For those who haven’t been following recent local news, “the defendant” is the County of Orange, sued by the Santa Ana based non-profit Catholic Worker to stop forced evictions of homeless people living along the Santa Ana River Trail. Fullerton was not named in the lawsuit.

The Catholic Worker’s case asserts that the homeless people were being forced from their makeshift campsites with nowhere else to go, and no services available to them. One couldn’t help but be struck by the stark contradiction between the invocation and the council’s actions. If sectarian religions invocations are to be offered on behalf of the public, then perhaps the City Council should listen to them instead of choosing to stand  with the heartless. And if the invocation doesn’t please you, take heart. Precedence has now been set for anyone—not just recognized religious clergy—to offer a sectarian invocation before a council meeting, so feel free to contact city hall to find out when you can present one of your own from your religion (or not?) of choice.