She said, "It doesn't surprise me. This is not really a community."
That's a very sad observation.
I moved to Troy five years ago because of its sterling reputation for great schools and a thriving business community. But I did wonder about the community back then.
I had heard a story from 2004, before I lived here, about the messy handling of the National Day of Prayer.
Many communities across America, especially those as diverse as ours, hold interfaith celebrations of NDP. In 2002 George Bush said, ""The Congress... has called on our citizens to reaffirm the role of prayer in our society and to honor the religious diversity our freedom permits by recognizing annually a 'National Day of Prayer.''"
But celebrating diversity didn't seem to work in Troy. We have a Christian-only event and an interfaith event, sponsored by the Troy Interfaith Group.
Before 2005 Troy held a Judeo-Christian event, but then Mayor Schilling invited an American-born Hindu woman to give a Hindu prayer at the 2004 observance, and then all h*** broke loose.
You can read coverage of the event here and below:
During 2005, NDP organizers for the 2005 event in Troy, MI, ran into difficulty. The Troy National Day of Prayer Christian Task Force, an Evangelical Christian group, asked the city for permission to hold an event at the Troy city hall. It was to feature only conservative Christian speakers and prayers. But some non-Evangelicals protested; they felt that many faiths should be represented at the event. TheTroy City Council reached a compromise. They gave permission for the interfaith group -- including Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus -- to meet from 11 AM until noon at city hall. The exclusively Evangelical Christian group was given the noon until 1 PM time slot at the same location. Richard A. Peacock of Troy First United Methodist Church, who represented the interfaith group, said: "We'll make sure we work it out. And we're inviting everyone to join us." 7 Lori Wagner of the indicated that persons of all faiths were welcome at her service; however the meeting would be Evangelical Christian in content. She said: " ."
To avoid future conflict, on APR-04, Troy's City Council selected three sites for public gatherings, and authorized the city's recreation department to issue permits on a first-come first-served basis. Rabbi Arnie Sleutelberg of Congregation Shir Tikvah in Troy was one of the leaders in the interfaith service. He said: "I just hope the people who clamored for this know that groups like the pro-choice, homosexuals, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members -- anybody who wants to -- can secure a site now." Mayor Louise Schilling is disappointed in the way the controversy has divided the community. She said: "That day should be about bringing the different religious groups together in unity, not in tearing them apart." 3
Associated Press commented that "It was a day of separation for different religious groups in the Detroit suburb of Troy. [On MAY-08] ...about 250 people participated in a Christians-only prayer session in front of Troy City Hall. A similar number of Christians and members of other faiths attended the Troy Interfaith Group service at Northminster Presbyterian Church. Mayor Louise Schilling attended the interfaith event, which also included Buddhists, Jews and Muslims. The prayer day services followed months of controversy over the Christian group's plan to exclude non-Christians." 6
The National Day of Prayer continued to divide the City of Troy, weeks after the event. Shortly after the Day, the Troy Committee to Protect Free Speech was formed with Wendee Rex as president. The purpose of the committee appears to be to organize a recall of Troy Mayor Louise Schilling and Mayor Pro Tem Robin Beltramini because of the way in which they opposed the Evangelical Christian-only Day of Prayer event in favor of one that included persons of many religions. Rex identified herself as a Christian but declined to identify her church or say how many people are on the committee. She said: "It is because of their open hostility to Troy citizens exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of assembly and equal access on city property in front of City Hall." 7
The way the whole library millage election went down, one still has to wonder.
Is Troy truly a community of individuals dedicated to living, working and learning together while looking out for the whole community's best interests?
Or are we a group of selfish individuals looking out only for our own pocketbooks and for ourselves?