The city of Beebe calls itself "Your Dream Hometown." Civil libertarians might find the dream unpleasant.
The June issue of a city-government newsletter contains a rambling message from Mayor Mike Robertson. He says:
"Government has taken a very high profile in the everyday lives of citizens and businesses — too much in some areas. In the last few weeks there has been more than one movement to limit our freedom of prayer and the pledge of allegiance to our God and country. A federal judge recently ruled National Prayer Day as unconstitutional and the ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union, has locally challenged North Little Rock City Council meetings unconstitutional for allowing a prayer to God and pledge to the flag as opening to their meeting. It is my opinion and the Beebe City Council's that government leaders must pray to God as the true leader of the nation and that a nation cannot exist if they are not one nation under God trusting in God as the leader. It is my opinion government has allowed non-believers far too many liberties taking God out of our daily lives. As mayor of this city I will continue to open our meeting with a prayer and a pledge to our country – one nation under God.
"Please remember in the coming November election for leaders of this nation to elect only those who will stand firm doing the will of God and not their will. If placing God or the simple mentioning of his holy name in this newsletter is offensive to some; so be it. I do not and will not apologize, ever, for giving him the praise he is due for all that he has done for our blessed country. Not now, not ever in the future, should we turn our backs to our creator."
An anonymous source sent the newsletter to the Arkansas Times. Robertson said he'd heard no objections, not even from the ACLU, to the prayer and pledge of allegiance at Beebe City Council meetings, nor to the mention of God in the city newsletter. He confirmed a report that a framed print of the Ten Commandments hangs inside City Hall, next to a plaque that says the print was donated by Mike Robertson. "I won't take it down," Robertson said. "If somebody takes it down, it won't be me."
Asked about the excessive liberties allegedly granted to non-believers, Robertson said he was referring to "Judges and lawsuits restricting prayer at athletic events. Not allowing children to have a pledge of allegiance. Fear of insulting someone who doesn't believe in God."
Beebe is a city of about 5,300. Robertson is a 55-year-old businessman serving his eighth year as mayor.
"Can a mayor and city use city funds to promote a religious viewpoint?" our anonymous source asks. Absent an objection, possibly so.
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