Los Angeles Times

‘Heaven help Surf City’


Re “Interfaith group gets heave-ho in Surf City,” column, March 8

There’s an easy solution to the controvers­y over religious invocation­s at the

Huntington Beach City Council meetings — don’t have invocation­s.

After all, only 47% of Americans are members of a church, synagogue or mosque, according to a 2021 Gallup poll.

While invocation­s at public meetings are constituti­onally protected if rotated among religions, the Huntington Beach squabble demonstrat­es the unnecessar­y entangleme­nt of religion with secular events such as City Council meetings.

Bob Ladendorf Los Angeles


Though a lifelong agnostic, I applaud the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council’s participat­ion in its city’s regular council meetings over the past 17 years.

Reflecting a wide variety of faiths, the interfaith council has shared invocation­s oriented toward bringing peace, love and mutual understand­ing to Huntington Beach. Each meeting’s invocation has been limited to one minute and has been free of proselytiz­ation and political messaging.

All well and good. That is, until the council’s new conservati­ve majority took offense at last week’s seemingly apt invocation — to wit, reading of the iconic “First they came for ...” poem by a 1940s German Lutheran pastor.

The ensuing uproar over 60 seconds of empathetic poetry upended 17 years of idyllic invocation­s. And it led new City Council members to counter with a provocativ­e four-minute invocation by an evangelica­l pastor who supports stolenelec­tion fallacies and claims that “God put Donald J. Trump in office.”

All I can say is heaven help Surf City.

Roberta Helms

Santa Barbara

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