AT THE Wilkes-Barre City Council meeting Thursday night Mayor Tom Leighton managed to start up the high road but took a detour to a foot-in-mouth alley.
During the meeting a frequent attendee raised concerns about a banner recently displayed on Public Square that reads: “Nothing Fails Like Prayer.”
He said he supports free speech, “But that banner is a shot at the Christian and Catholic religions.”
Mayor Leighton’s response was that people of faith — himself, council and the attendee — shouldn’t be offended. “We live in a free country; unfortunately everybody has the rights to whatever what they want to say,” said Leighton.
First, prayer is not limited to Christians or Catholics.
In addition, there is nothing unfortunate about the freedoms of our country. Freedom of speech implies tolerance of opposing viewpoints. You cannot have your freedom without giving others their share.
The First Amendment provides for essential rights including the free exercise of religion and the freedom of speech. The only thing unfortunate in this case is that an elected official would denounce a constitutional right he finds unpleasant.
So as a friendly reminder, here is the text of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”