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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Celebrating Diversity - by proselytizing????

At the June 18 Troy City Council meeting, the people's mayor Janice Daniels told us that we should admire her for all of the wonderful things she has done.
One thing to be proud of, she tells us, is this:

Yes, indeed. With dozens of nationalities and languages represented in Troy, we are the second most diverse city in the state of Michigan, behind only Ann Arbor in our international-ness!

Now how can I complain about that? That's wonderful! A multi-cultural event here in Troy brought to us by the mayor we all thought was a closed-minded bigot who only cared about straight, white Christians.


She's promoting an event about proving how much we respect our neighbors from other lands by letting them teach us about their cultures. Here's the website of the Who's My Neighbor group putting on this event. Isn't it lovely and selfless and welcoming?

So why is this wonderful organization doing this?

Because they are missionaries, of course.

Scour their website and you won't see a single word about Christianity, missionaries, or bringing out people of all religions for the purpose of trying to convert them. Hmm, I wonder why?

Perhaps because if they did, people wouldn't come?

The first event they held like this was in Dearborn, MI. Hmmm, why Dearborn, I wonder?

Way off the Who's My Neighbor website, if you search enough, you can find what they are really about. This is a post on the organizers' blog, called "Going Places with God," describing the event in Dearborn:

Today we had the privilege to share at a Barbecue planned by our friends in Dearborn, MI. It was a cold and cloudy day but that didn't stop over 150 people coming out. They were there from Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Palestine, S. Korea, and USA! As well as Syd from N. Ireland. The sun came out as we started to speak and everyone stayed and listened as we talked about Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven. We promised we would all pray for their nations at this time. Jesus is King over all the earth. It was wonderful to see everyone stay and listen as Syd & I spoke for 30 minutes about God's good plans for us all and how Jesus paid the price for our sins to be forgiven and our place to be secured in God's family in His Kingdom, the only Kingdom that is secure in these unsecure times.

Now religion is fine. All religions. But pretending an event is about diversity, to get people from all nations to come out for the express, secret purpose of trying to convert them, is dishonest at the least, offensive and xenophobic at midrange. For our mayor to promote it seems a wee bit exclusionary to me.

And that's certainly how it felt to the Jewish woman in Troy who pointed it out to me. Is Troy now exclusively for and about Christians?

This is another of-the-site communication to people about the Who's My Neighbor event in Ohio:

We invite you to take part by first praying for this great opportunity to reach out to the international community amongst us. If you would like to become more involved, you can have a booth to display the outreach (particularly the international outreach) of your church or organization. We are asking for a small donation to cover the cost of the tent and tables. Your members can also help out with many aspects of the day, the KIDZ ZONE, the evangelism team, or other behind the scenes jobs.Everyone is invited! Its a great place to bring all the church family and their friends - people who don't yet know Jesus, will have a great time!

I remember hearing Janice Daniels say on a recent TV appearance that she is a Conservative Christian when talking about her POLITICAL stance. Why mention religion? Isn't she the type of persoan all jazzed up about the myth of Sharia law coming to America? Doesn't she know America is a land of laws, not religion? Does this mean that the mayor of the second most diverse city in Michigan cares only about Christians and converting all the rest?

Just what is her intent????????

We already know that she doesn't like gay people and believes they are mentally ill, sickly and should be kept away from genteel society and given no rights.

We already know that if you are a loathesome bigot who hates public transportation because it brings people from Detroit to Troy (and he hates Muslims, gays and teachers as well), you are welcome in her world and she will demand that you be given 20 minutes to speak before city council.

We already know that if you use ethnically insulting terms about Chinese people, Mayor Daniels will put you on the most important commission in the city.

So what does it mean that she intends to mine Troy's international community, not for the richness of their culture or for their points of view, but to try to convert them?

Once again a member of our city government, this time Janice Daniels, reminds me of Stephen Colbert's buffoonish, conservative alter-ego who spoke at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner, ridiculing people who think like her:

And though I am a committed Christian, I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion — be you Hindu, Jewish, or Muslim, I believe there are infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior. (It's a joke, folks)

Now you can tell me that Janice has every right to promote this event. Sure she does!

The problem is that she is promoting it at city council meetings and on her website that she has made to look like an official city website. And why has she done that? Because the city won't allow her to use OUR official website for her shameless self-promotion.

And the city probably wouldn't approve of her dragging out our international community in order to proselytize to them.


  1. Oh, you're brown! That's so nice! Some people think Jesus was brown, too. Speaking of Jesus, have you been saved, yet?

  2. I am a Christian. I find this behavior most disturbing. Of course she has every right to her faith, but she should not be projecting it as Mayor in the way that she does and in the veiled way that she is here. Especially in a community as diverse as Troy. To my neighbors of other faiths, I can only say please understand this woman does not reflect all Christians. She most certainly does not. I pray that she simply steps down from this position and finds a better outlet for her views. This is not right.

  3. I have no problem with this group doing what they believe they should to promote Christianity; I DO have a problem with the government (and Mayor Daniels is the government) promoting their event. I am a evangelical Christian, I do believe Jesus is God and I believe in sharing my faith. So, my Christian friends may ask why I find the Mayor's action wrong. It's simple; it is not the role of government to promote religion just as it's not the role of government to infringe upon the practice of religion. It is the role of government to protect my right to practice my religion. The Mayor should consider this: what if the next mayor is a Satanist, would she want that mayor promoting Satanist events via the government?
    Mayor Daniels no more represents Christians and the love of Christ than a corrupt doctor who bilks Medicaid represents the medical profession. Unfortunately, the saving knowledge of Christ does not come with an infusion of common sense, manners and respect.
    "Conservative Christian" is a political mantra, not a statement of faith. To the Mayor...a tree is known by it's fruit, not because it says it's a tree.

  4. Here is verbiage from "Cross-Cultural Encounters" website the organization behind "Who's My Neighbor" (bracketed in asterisks so as to separate from my comments):

    "Who's My Neighbor International Celebrations" are the culmination of the Cross Cultural Encounters,
    a chance to enter in to the mission field on your doorstep.

    One of the many advantages of the fresh surge of immigration to our shores is the vast resource of
    spiritual gifting that our brothers and sisters from other nations bring to the church of Jesus Christ.
    Our goal is to celebrate these diverse expressions of worship by inviting as many believers as possible
    from different racial and national groups to take part in a day of outreach.

    We have seen amazing results when prayer networks unite and churches from all backgrounds come together in a day of evangelism using unique cross cultural expressions of worship and witness to
    illustrate Jesus as the Savior of the world. We are looking for churches, ministries and prayer networks who have a passion to reach out to the new mission field we have here in the USA.

    This is totally horrifying to me that Janice Daniels would align our city with these evangelical mission seeking opportunists. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. Resign now, Ms. Daniels, you have lost the privilege of holding public office forever not only in this city but in this state and country. Jeesh! You are a walking illustration of the wisdom of separation of church and state!

  5. This just illustrates further Janice Daniels lack of respect for people who are different than her. Homosexual?, we'll bring in psychiatrists to help you with that. Non-Christian?, we'll convert you!
    A side note, many Evangelical Christians believe other mainstream Christian faiths to be dare I say, Christian in name only, kind of like RINOs for mainstream Republicans. Catholicism is regarded as a cult. You are only a Christian if "you accept Jesus Christ as your own personal savior", get baptised again, and go to their church. A very narrow point of view. Don't let our city be defined by these people!

    1. I don't know about this. They supported Rick Santorum and he's a practicing Catholic. Please, let's leave religious beliefs out of this and focus on the problem. Mayor Daniels (and Bob Gosselin) not the religious groups brought this issue up. A variety of churches, temples, and synagogues have existed in Troy without problems...until now!
      All religions have narrow views; we only believe in things we think are true. Let's do what Daniels should have done and leave religion out of this.

    2. Agreed. Political discourse in this country has not been improved by the infusion of religiosity brought about by the ultra-right wing, who seem to use it, in large part, only to cement their voter base.

      Certainly, evangelicals can do what they want. Non-Christians, or those who don't want to be saved may find it irritating, though we may not say so out of politeness. What I take objection to, in this particular case is the portrayal of this event, from Daniel's website, to the "Who's your Neighbor" website it looks strictly like a secular event, promoting cultural exchange and good relations among ethnicities, no hint of religion involved. Only after digging into it further and finding the organization behind it (Cross-Cultural Encounters) does one find the ulterior motive. Do all the evangelizing you want, just don't disguise it as something else, this is wrong and deceitful. And I am not a rabid anit-Christian, nativity scenes on city property are OK, Christ-based Christmas carols in public schools, In God we Trust, public prayers and blessings veering into Jesus territory are fine...but I draw the line at some circa 19th century missionary work carried out under subterfuge on our citizens, it is disrespectful of THEIR beliefs.

  6. Let's not vilify this group just because Mayor Daniels is promoting their event. I see nothing wrong with them exercising their religious freedom. What is wrong is our government (through the Mayor) supporting and advancing their cause.
    All religious groups evangelize. Church signs, concerts, events, socials, fairs, etc. are evangelical events; that is they seek to promote the faith of the sponsor. There's nothing wrong with this. To say they are "opportunist" because they seek to engage immigrants or people of other cultures is wrong.
    I filled the post identifying myself as an evangelical Christian. I am very conservative, I did not and will not vote for our current president, and don't like the health care act. I say that to point out to others like me that it's OK to oppose Mayor Daniels; that there is a greater issue here and the Mayor along with her support network has misled, misinformed, and lied to us. We should do the right thing, not the party line thing. Let's not alienate people over ancillary issues. We are all entitled to our religious beliefs and have the right to evangelize; however, we can not allow our government to enter onto the slippery slope of endorsing a specific faith. Citizen Daniels can do whatever she wants, Mayor Daniels cannot.
    She has been successful in creating problems where they don't exist, taking credit for the work of others and has divided our community. This is wrong whether you are conservative or liberal, whether you have a religious faith or not, or whether you are straight or gay. Her's is a nonpartisan office; maybe that's why she thinks the charter us whimsical. She's brought this political warfare upon us. Let's work together, get recalled and work return Troy to a community where our focus is on what's best for the residents.

    1. Very well said. Thank you!

  7. To me it's about disenfranchising citizens. We know she doesn't care for the LGBT community, or the Chinese community and now it's clear that diversity is only good because it provides more people to save. To some that seems very disrespectful, especially coming from the mayor of the second most diverse city in MI.
    I would like it if she would keep it to her prvate site and not her quasi-official site.
    And as she keeps saying at meetings and to the media that this event is a mark of pride, it's natural people want to know what it is.

  8. It doesnt surprise me that Janice Daniels would use deception in order to force feed her narrow views to the rest of us.

  9. Let us not forget that in her "business" meeting she plainly stated that she does NOT recognize the separation of church and state. It seems to have gotten lost because she said so many other horrible, horrible things but I think it is really important. It is worth a fresh listen, although it may make you vomit with rage.

  10. It looks again like Janice Daniels's seeking credit on her website for anything that makes her look that Southeastern Michigan Mayor's luncheon, big photo-op there. She might have grabbed onto "Who's My Neigbhor?" to appear to be a diversity advocate.

    Perhaps I misread what this event is about, not proselytizing per se. On closer examination it appears to be a way to observe people who are already Christian, of various ethnic and national backgrounds, to share their customs and ways of Christian worship and thus encourage attendees to consider mission work. Still questionable that Daniels, Mayor of Troy should endorse it; OK for Daniels, as a church member to endorse...she should have made that clear, as in saying "my church is holding this event in Troy". Otherwise one could misinterpret it as a kind of Troy Family Daze festival.

    1. When the mayor's luncheon was held in May in Southfield, Janice didn't show up.
      Why not? She told the mayor that she got so much email she missed the invitation. Wait...what?
      She hosted it as if it was the United Nation's event of the year. But when she wasn't "in the spotlight" she didn't even bother to show up.
      Email? Didn't she write it on her calendar in advance if it was such an all important event?
      What a joke.

    2. I think that was also her excuse for not attending the MLK annual celebration (which Mayors Stine and Schilling always attended) over at Athens. Another missed email!

    3. Another good reason to have the staff open her mail.

  11. Hi Anon from today.
    How about this from an interview with Syd Doyle who is behind the Who's My Neighbor events:

    Muslims At Our Doorstep: A God-Given Opportunity

    Because so many Islamic nations are hostile to the gospel, Ted Vail, associate director for Foursquare Missions International—U.S. Missions, believes God is bringing millions of its followers to the United States so they will have the freedom to hear about Christ.

    The post-9/11 image of most Muslims as would-be terrorists, however, hinders many believers from reaching out to these spiritual seekers.

    “When you say ‘Islam,’ there’s a bit of fear with the average American,” Vail says. “There’s the idea that Muslims are all the same, when they are very diverse.”

    [Like many Christians] approximately 70 percent of Muslims are casual adherents, only following a few of Islam’s principles or simultaneously embracing other religions.

    A survey of Muslim-background believers showed the leading reason for their conversion was observing the love of Christ in a Christian friend. Equally significant is the fact that hardly anyone who converted to Christianity cited theological factors as the reason—namely, someone debating with them and proving that the Quran is wrong and the Bible is right.

    Because they are seeking to know God in a deeper way, Muslims are easier to approach than the average American, says Syd Doyle, a longtime ordained Foursquare minister and missionary.

    “In one sense it’s easier to talk to Muslims about Christ than it is to talk to secular Americans,” says Doyle. “They are more willing to talk about religion.”

    For helpful information on how to reach out to the Muslims God has brought to our doorstep, read the full article in Charisma News.

    1. I want to say to Mr. Doyle in reply to his observation that "secular Americans are not willing to talk about religion". Maybe it is because this country was founded by people escaping religious persecution and thus we have ingrained upon us tolerance for all religious sects. We let our fellow Americans worship (or not worship) their own faith in peace. There are and have been so many countries rendered apart by perceived religious differences that in comparison I can't see anything terrible about secularness, and avoiding "my religion's better than yours" talk.

  12. The quote is "...more willing...", no where did the article quote him as saying secular Americans are "not willing" (at least this is true of the postings I have seen here).
    I have looked at their website and no where did I see them asking the Mayor or the City of Troy to support them, nor did they speak at a council meeting. I believe a church is hosting their event. This is markedly different than let's say Mr. Wisz's opinions and efforts. He sought out the opportunity to speak at public gatherings and was allowed to do so by the Mayor.
    I feel sorry for these folks; they quietly go about their business, live within the rights granted them by our Constitution and based on what I can see don't cause any problems. Agree with them or not, they've done nothing to deserve the scrutiny they are under. Just like those young students didn't deserve to be dragged into the Mayor's personal campaign regarding homosexuality.
    The issue is simple; the Mayor chooses to use her office to promote her personal opinions and beliefs. She
    does not recognize or acknowledge that her job is to serve all citizens and focus on CITY business, not promote her personal agenda (which appears to be higher office).

    1. Hi, I am the Anon, that misquoted Mr. Doyle, in his actual saying "(Muslims) are more willing to talk about religion (than secular Americans)"; I exrapolated when I turned that into "secular Americans are not willing to talk about religion", I apologise.

      I know several evangelical Christians and they are truly good and nice people. So I do regret that they are being dragged into this. I've thought that if any other CM (like Wade Flemming, for instance) had announced this event at the council meeting as occuring at their church, this would hardly be a blip on the radar, it is too bad. Janice Daniel's prideful bragging about it being an "honor, and Troy is only the second city in America" (acually, third city, counting Toledo and Foxboro), seems to portray it as something it is not...was there a competition, who were the judges, and what was the criteria? I am sorry but everything she says is suspect to me, it seems to be all about her image, and she doesn't have the tact or feel for keeping herself (and our city's reputation) out of possible sensitve areas.

  13. I agree. While I am not supportive of a group that Christmas carols in Muslim neighborhoods, as these folks do, they are not my concern. My concern is the mayor repeatedly hawking their event as an important event that Troy was honored to be selected for, and therefore we should be grateful to have her as mayor, when it turns out they selected Troy BECAUSE we have more non-Christians than other communities which is beneficial to THEM.
    This event does not honor Troy or Mayor Daniels. It's just a misleading, evangelical event in Troy.
    I respect other people's cultures and think that tricking our international community into coming to a quasi-city-promoted event meant to rescue them from their own religions is a bad thing.

  14. Please, let's spread the word throughout Troy that our wonderful mayor considers those who practice religions other than hers ripe for evangelical conversion. Perhaps some will come to the city council meeting podium, hoping to begin a dialogue with Janice that will lead them out of their own faith's darkness and into her shining light, where they will be bathed in glory forever and ever. Gosh, wouldn't that be a sight to see? Let me get my camera.

    You know, come to think of it, why is there a religious invocation at the start of a government city council meeting?

    1. I've wondered about the religious invocation as well...while I am a Christian, I was pretty disturbed the first time I saw the opening of a City Council meeting with a prayer asking Jesus for guidance. I couldn't quite wrap my head around this. I thought to myself, well, if they also open other meetings with prayers from other religions (ex: asking Allah or Budah) for guidance, then I'm not that concerned. Then I thought, no, this is just not right. There should be no religious affiliation or prayer at the beginning of a government meeting. How exactly does the non-Christian community feel about their local government literally praying to Jesus before "representing" everyone in the business of the city? Why is it acceptable for the City of Troy to endorse a specific religion over another at a meeting of government officials???

    2. I wondered about that, too. Is it something new with this city council? I could be wrong but so far I've only seen Christian pastors. If they are going to continue, they should have Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist and others on a rotating basis. Think what a positive impact it might have...end the atmosphere that tolerates shameful vandalism of non-Christian places of worship.

    3. Last night's (July 9th) invocation was given by Daniels who (maybe I'm sensitized) seemed to be specificly addressing her situation; she asked for the "graciousness to allow us to forgive others who tresspass against us". She mentioned combating the "principalities of evil" (bit florid there), the "Lamb of God" and the "love of our savior Jesus Christ". Way to go, keeping the invocation generalized, not. What's wrong with let's have a good and productive meeing, and asking for wisdom in our decisions, which I had heard a previous pastor say...that's appropriate.

  15. Opening prayer at Council meetings has been part of the protocol since Troy became a city. It is a very common practice; as a matter of fact, I believe the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate open with a prayer.
    The city utilizes leaders from Troy places of worship and has had a rabbi and leader from the Hindu Temple, as well as leaders from the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Egyptian Coptic Church, the Greek Orthodox church, the Romanian Baptist, Korean Methodist, and Unitarian/Universalist. Our level of diversity is represented in the variety of churches that serve the community. In Troy, religiously diverse churches out number bars by a wide margin. The city has never endorsed one religion over another and has sought to make it possible for all to practice their respective faiths.
    The Mayor would have you ignore this and believe she us bringing Christian values to a heathen city. Just as she would have you believe she saved the library, supports the police department and actually respected John Szerlag. As I feared this topic has developed into a discussion of religion; it shouldn't be. The Mayor's motives
    are clearly political; let's not get sidetracked.

  16. I have a problem with any Christian who uses the bible as cover for their own prejudice. The bible says a lot of things that people reasonably discount as ancient touching the skin of a pig or allowing two different fabrics to touch, etc., etc. (Let the stoning begin...starting with NFL players) Here's an example of where this goes wrong: We have a mayor who has openly expressed disgust at gay people who love each other enough to want to get married. That's pretty responsible on their part, isn't it? Kind of the antithesis of the "lifestyle of promiscuity" that people like Daniels seem to be holding on to from the 1980s. She cites marriage as a sacred vow, i.e., church. We start our council meetings with Christian prayer (sorry, haven't seen too many Hindus or Buddhists there lately) like a church service. A non-Christian comes to a council meeting to complain about something, and they hear a Christian prayer start things off. A gay person comes to the podium with an issue and knows the Mayor looks at them with contempt shielded by her faith in God. Wouldn't that put you off your game, wondering if you'd get a fair hearing from the assembled "Christians" and mayor? This is the most basic meaning of separation of church and state to me.

    So sorry for the diversion. But Daniels is using her position to advance her causes, one of which is clearly her Christian conservative faith.

    1. I especially have a problem when Councilman Fleming is the go-to prayer giver when the invited religious person doesn't show up or one wasn't scheduled. Which seemed to happen for several weeks in a row when I was attending meetings last fall and spring. This is really not a good idea, to have someone at the council table give an invocation. They should be non-partisan and not giving religious statements from that position. If the invited person doesn't come, say the Pledge of Allegiance and get on with the government meeting.
      Even my 16 year old son, who had just completed AP US History and AP European History was appalled by the lack of separation.

  17. Before Mr. Fleming former Councilman Palotta provided the invocation when the scheduled person failed to show. This matter has been the subject of several state court cases around the nation and the practice has been upheld. In 2009 the US Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge against it; again, the practice had been upheld at lower federal court.
    In response to a post: I have attended numerous council meetings the last 30 years and I personally observed Rabbi Arnie from Shir Tikvah and a representative from the Hindu Temple provide the invocation. The rule is, you must be from a Troy place of worship. To date, we do not have a mosque. When we do I am sure they will be included.
    To judge all Christians based on the Mayor's actions is akin to saying all Mayors are bad because she's bad; we know this isn't true. I think Mayors Stine, Schilling and Doyle attended Christian churches during their tenure and they clearly were good Mayors.
    As an aside, this entire discussion demonstrates the lack of attention many give city government. I've spoken
    several people who voted for Mayor Daniels and had no idea what she had done or what she stood for; they regret their actions now. This blog has done much to generate involvement.

  18. Hi Anon (I wish you guys would at least get fake names so we could communicate better),
    Through my involvement in Troy politics I have met wonderful people of all faiths who are working together to make Troy better. We saved the library together and we are trying to either force Mayor Daniels to act in a manner befitting her office or to leave it. This experience has assured me that there are wonderful evangelical Christians who respect other faiths and even other sexual orientations. I agree with someone who wrote on Patch that using the bible to excuse your bigotry is shameful. There are good and bad people of all religions, of course. I don't think everyone believes this, but I do. And I will reiterate that I learned about this event and its backers from a Jewish person who was very upset about the quasi-official feel of the event, due to the mayor's support and actual bragging and constant promotion of it. She is not to be our Christian leader, our minister, our pastor or our moral compass. She is the mayor and it is inappropriate of her to officially sanction an event that at its heart, wishes to turn people of other religions into Christians. It's just not right.