I live in Shasta County near Redding, and our mayor just made the following speech.
Help me pastaz!!
Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
September 8, 2006
Officials voice religious views
Speakers at 9/11 service say prayer wins spiritual war
Local elected officials and a pastor Thursday used a commemoration of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to wage spiritual warfare against those who would attack America.
In a ceremony on the Shasta County Courthouse steps titled "One Nation Under God," Redding Mayor Ken Murray said Christians and Muslim radicals are engaged in "a war to the spiritual death of one of us."
Murray said Shiite Muslims believe it's acceptable to lie, cheat, steal and kill as long as it ultimately glorifies Allah.
"Folks, they're not like us," the mayor said. "They're not like us at all, and for them, their war has been going on for 1,200 years."
The Rev. Jim Wilson, whose ministry, PrayNorthstate, co-sponsored the event, characterized the conflict as "a war about idolatry -- whether or not we are sold out to the living God or sold out to some substitute for him."
Speakers said spiritual battles can be won through prayer. Wilson credited the prayer of north state residents for declines in traffic fatalities and cancer-related hospital admissions, as well as for the announced closure of the Family Planning Inc. of Shasta County reproductive health clinic in Redding.
The clinic is closing "because the spiritual climate here is more life-giving than life-taking as it used to be," Wilson said.
The agency's director, John Truitt, has cited rising costs as the reason the clinic is closing this month.
The comments came during an hourlong, noontime event co-sponsored by the county Sheriff's Department, the Shasta County Jail Chaplaincy, the Marshal's Office, PrayNorthstate, the Good News Rescue Mission and Sysco Foods.
Appearing along with Murray and Wilson were District Attorney Jerry Benito and Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko, the keynote speaker. Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, was emcee.
The ceremony has been held each year to promote prayer as a way of alleviating fear and anger over the attacks. Last year's theme of love and hope included comments from Supervisor Linda Hartman, who noted that during Hurricane Katrina, "People from all walks of life and all corners of the country are stepping up to help those in need."
But this year, spiritual battles were a recurring focus. Benito praised those who fought back against the terrorists on one of the hijacked planes on Sept. 11, 2001, and said America is a nation of survivors through faith in God.
"As long as I have faith in God and submit to his will, all that happens ... will be for the best," Benito said. Victory can even come in death. "Jesus saw to that," he said.
Murray said after the program the notion of officials expressing their religious beliefs on the courthouse steps is "a free speech issue."
"I do not ... see it as government sponsoring of religion," Murray said. "The truth of the matter is if Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to come up and set up on the courthouse steps and have a campaign rally, there isn't any law that says he can't do it. Or Billy Graham. It's not sponsoring."
As for his comments about Islam, Murray said he draws a distinction between "mainstream" practitioners of the religion and Shiites, whom he said were "wing nuts."
"Since the Crusades, there's been a spiritual battle for the hearts and minds of people," he said. "I think it's a historical reality, and the rubber's meeting the road again. Either the Judeo-Christian philosophy will survive or the Islamic philosophy will survive."
Murray said he would like to see future commemorations be more inclusive in terms of speakers.
The secret of happiness involves ducks and ukuleles.