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National Day of Prayer at Fresno City Hall
by Mike Rhodes (MikeRhodes [at] Comcast.net)
Saturday May 3rd, 2008 3:15 PM
The conservative power structure in Fresno attempted to have a “Christian Only” prayer service at City Hall as a part of the National Day of Prayer. Their exclusionary event was thwarted when members of the Interfaith Alliance of Central California showed up holding signs saying One Nation/Many Faiths. See and hear what the mayor, city manager, police chief, and Kamal Abu-Shamsieh of the Islamic Cultural Center had to say in the videos below.
National Day of Prayer at Fresno City Hall
By Mike Rhodes

Speaking in front of Fresno City Hall, mayor Alan Autry said “I believe the separation of church and state is good, but as mayor I can not leave office without saying once again that separation of God from state is nothing less than disastrous.” He was speaking at the National Day of Prayer event held on May 1, 2008.

Members of the Interfaith Alliance of Central California were there to counter what they said was a “Christian Only service on the steps of Fresno City Hall.” A group of 30 - 40 Interfaith Alliance members holding signs that said “One Nation/Many Faiths” attended the event. Autry was aware of the controversy and near the end of his talk, invited members of other faiths to come forward to speak. Kamal Abu-Shamsieh, director of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno came forward and spoke.

Before the event, Interfaith Alliance members said in a statement sent to the press that they had “tried to be included and we have not been given a place in any of the events.” They had planned to come, hold signs, and did not expect to be invited to speak or participate. Afterwards, several Interfaith Alliance members said they were pleasantly surprised. Natalie Chamberlain, pastor of United Christian Church in Fresno told The Fresno Bee that “this is very positive. We are most grateful for the recognition by city leaders.” Abu-Shamsieh said “It’s a historical thing in the history of Fresno and the Muslim community, in particular.”

The scheduled program included:

Prayer for Government
Prayer for Military, Law & Fire Departments
Prayer for the Media
Prayer for Business
Prayer for Education and Youth
Prayer for the Church
and a Prayer for the Family

Abu-Shamsieh was the only person to mention the poor and homeless. In his short address to the audience he said Fresno is “a city for all people and a day for all people to pray. We pray for the safety of this country, we pray for uplifting those who need all the prayers. We pray for those who don’t have the means to support themselves, those who don’t have the means to eat, a house to have a roof on top of their heads, in our city and elsewhere in the world.”

For information about the Interfaith Alliance call Rev. Bryan Jessup (559-322-6146) or Rev. Natalie Chamberlain (559-227-2050), Co-Chairs.

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§The Interfaith Alliance
by Mike Rhodes Saturday May 3rd, 2008 3:15 PM
600_prayer_2.jpg
Their signs said: One Nation, Many Faiths
§Taking Their Message to City Hall
by Mike Rhodes Saturday May 3rd, 2008 3:15 PM
600_prayer_3.jpg
§Fresno Mayor Alan Autry
by Mike Rhodes Saturday May 3rd, 2008 3:15 PM
600_prayer_4.jpg
Mayor Autry said “I believe the separation of church and state is good, but as mayor I can not leave office without saying once again that separation of God from state is nothing less than disastrous.”
§1 minute video of Kamal Abu-Shamsieh
by Mike Rhodes Saturday May 3rd, 2008 3:15 PM
§National Day of Prayer at Fresno City Hall
by Mike Rhodes Saturday May 3rd, 2008 3:15 PM
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Congratulations!! on inclusion but what does it mean?Haim Dov Beliak, rabbiTuesday May 6th, 2008 8:56 PM