» Kristin Kittell kkittell@my.apsu.edu

A religious Mayor leads the city of Clarksville. Though this is probably not the most groundbreaking news, her ability to separate her religion from her public office job has recently come into question, according to a petition circulating on www.change.org.

The petition, which has garnered 111 signatures as of press time, Aug. 26, comes on the heels of a www.clarksvillenow.com post which briefly notes Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan’s monthly meetings with the Clarksville Area Ministerial Association. The CAMA’s website explains their vision is to “foster Christian evangelism faithful to the proclamation of the gospel.” The leaders gather in City Hall though it is unclear whether city policy is discussed. The petition is based on the grounds that McMillan’s meetings offer an indirect endorsement of certain religious groups, alienating constituents that fall outside of them.

To begin, I must make clear I completely support McMillan’s right to religious faith. Her occupancy of the Mayoral office does not and should not infringe upon her religious freedom, as dictated in the First Amendment.

However, in the same sentiment of constitutional righteousness, the city of Clarksville should not be expected to condone such meetings within the walls of City Hall.

Provisions against governmental endorsement of religious groups are both a legal and moral matter. Legally, this matter falls under religious discrimination. Public officials cannot adequately represent the public when their professional loyalties lie in any particularly group, nor do their constituents have reason to expect them to.

Morally speaking, it’s as if McMillan is a principal, inviting the choir kids to partake in the office’s playground view and early snack-time while the rest of the school waits patiently outside.

McMillan’s monthly meetings have become a blatant display of disregard for any member of the population who does not maintain the same religious faith. Not only have they become fodder for local news, but stories appear aside glowing (likely posed) pictures from the head of a round table, such as that found on www.clarksvillenow.com. How might a Buddhist or Atheist not feel misrepresented by a City Hall which invites a select group of Christian leaders into its doors without granting the same privilege for other leaders?

When McMillan steps into her office, her personal life must be set aside. Her job requires her to represent a diverse population rather than to represent her own personal convictions. Her actions as a Clarksville citizen might be out of the way of public scrutiny, but her actions as Clarksville Mayor are not. TAS