had a friend fill in.
But she doesn't believe the task of asking for God's guidance
should be her responsibility. She thinks it should be the City
Her ritual began when Councilwoman Debbie Cook became mayor and
decided not to have the invocation, which Cook believes to be
divisive and unconstitutional.
"I took an oath and I took it seriously," Cook said. "To me,
government is supposed to be about inclusion, and anytime you have
people praying ... just the nature of prayer, it's not inclusive --
Many were vocal in their outrage over the lack of an invocation,
others more quietly applauded her decision.
"When I heard that the invocation was coming to an end, I just
knew in my heart that a prayer needed to be said before our city
leaders could make the best decisions for the residents of Huntington
Beach," Borden said. "I very much believe in divine guidance. I
believe we need to go to God for everything -- there should be no
While it sparked a controversy, it was not the first time a mayor
exercised his or her right not to have an invocation.
Former Mayor and Councilman Ralph Bauer was the first not to have
the invocation, although he must have done so more quietly and
without an announcement, as it did not create the same stir.
The issue has become more noticeable, as newly elected council
members Dave Sullivan, Cathy Green and Gil Coerper have taken to
standing during the prayer said by Borden.
"I guess when anyone gives an invocation or prayer, I stand out of
respect," Green said.
For Green, it is a respect issue, she said, and a habit.
"I went to parochial schools," Borden said. "A teacher walked in a
room, I stood up. That's what we were taught to do.
"I went to a public school my senior year, and they thought I was
nuts, so I think it's just what you're used to," she said.
But it has others feeling a religious rift, and the topic simmers.
It is said you should never argue religion or politics with
That is because they are the two most divisive topics there are.
Both sides are vehement in their arguments. Both sides are certain
they are right because they have either God or the Constitution on
So, as long as no invocation is said, Borden will continue her
When a new mayor takes over it will be up to them to have an
invocation or not.
It should be simple enough -- just as long as prayer doesn't
become a campaign platform or a reason to vote for a candidate.
* DANETTE GOULET is the city editor. She can be reached at (714)
965-7170 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.