Is Wake Forest for Christians only?
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On May 8 of this year I, as a member of the Jewish faith, was invited to offer a prayer during the annual Community Day of Prayer held at the Forks Cafeteria in Wake Forest. While I commend the organizers for a well-coordinated program, I am once again disappointed that what was advertised as a “Community Day of Prayer” was really a Christian Prayer Day.
While open to all residents of Wake Forest, every prayer offered, except for the Jewish one, ended “in the name of Jesus Christ,” regardless of who the prayer was for. Comments were made that Wake Forest is a Christian community, and even The Wake Weekly seems to support this by having a “devotional column” and “Thought for Today/Prayer” segment focusing primarily on Christianity and the New Testament.
Why was there nothing in the paper about the importance of Passover or Ramadan, or that a Wake Forest resident was the featured speaker at the 2021 State of North Carolina Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration? Why not “thoughts/prayers” from nondenominational or secular sources?
There are many paths to seeking God and/or enlightenment, each of which is important and right to the person who follows their chosen path. To believe that your path is the best and only one that we must follow is a form of prejudice that is arrogant and demeaning. That is a surprising attitude to have in society today. Or is it?
I would like to believe that in today’s difficult times we would want more inclusiveness as a community, not more divisiveness. When I asked about other faiths being invited, I was told they were informed about the ceremony, but not invited to offer prayers. Of course, if all the prayers offered are “in the name of Jesus Christ,” I wonder how welcome these other faiths would feel.
It was certainly uncomfortable for me as a Jew to attend such a discriminatory event, that was advertised as open to all residents, held at a public venue, and fully supported by our town commissioners who obviously knew what kind of “public” event this was. This makes me question the intent behind my invitation, and my motivation to participate in the future.
Wake Forest is a rapidly growing community, and if we want it to be more welcoming and inclusive, I suggest leaving prayer “in the name of Jesus” for your homes, congregations or private gatherings. They should not be part of a public community event where all are invited to participate.
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