Reader feedback: Brigantine Council & Catholic Daughters of America

Letter to the editor, from James Mackey.

In an unprecedented move at the Brigantine City Council meeting Sept. 18, a majority of Council Democrats launched into an all-out assault and crusade on a proclamation that Mayor Guenther wanted brought forth for recognition of the Catholic Daughters of America, for their “service to the people of their community by providing food, clothing and support to the under-served and marginalized, who strive to bring about peace and healing by being involved in global, state and local events and issues.”

This proclamation was first removed by Councilman Rick DeLucry from the originally published agenda, which itself was improper, then the proclamation was voted against by Democrat Council members Lisa McClay, Joe Picardi and Frank Kern on the grounds that it violated the separation of Church and State.

As I watched the discussion unfold, I said to myself, “I did not realize we had recently elected so many constitutional scholars to Brigantine Council, especially when it comes to church-state issues.”

Lisa McClay vehemently stated that she was sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the New Jersey Constitution, and this violated her oath.

I would like to share with the members on council who cited the Constitution in order to vote “no” that the Preamble of the New Jersey Constitution starts out: “We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and transmit the same unimpaired to succeeding generations, do ordain and establish this Constitution.” Article I, Paragraph 4, Rights and Privileges, states “There shall be no establishment of one religious sect in preference to another; no religious or racial test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust.”

Sure sounds like religion has crept into the New Jersey constitution. A proclamation from the Mayor does not establish the preference of one religious sect or preference over another. Any organization, religious or secular group, can request a proclamation which is then brought before a regular City Council meeting for consideration. (You can read this part of the city code online athttps://law.resource.org/pub/us/code/city/nj/Brigantine.html#7164127.)

If our council members had really done their homework before making these outrageous and ill-informed statements and votes, all they had to do was a little research into Gov. Christie’s own proclamations. As recently as January 2012, Catholic Schools Week was recognized for “the contributions of Catholic Schools to New Jersey’s Educational System; and for the formation of moral values and a commitment to community service.”

Was the governor breaking the law? I don’t think so. He is also a lawyer, with teams of other lawyers who work for him. The real question is, why did Mr. DeLucry want this worthy and harmless proclamation pulled in the first place?

I guess the only way to find out is through the non-transparent email trail that floated between council and City Manager Jennifer Blumenthal.

Mr. DeLucry at council spoke about wanting an ‘omnibus’ proclamation naming all the organizations at once, not wanting to single out one group above another around Thanksgiving. That is like the new (and, I believe, flawed) tradition of giving trophies to every kid who played a sport that season; it’s meaningless. It is also meaningless to the organization. If you think an organization, religious or secular, in your ward or on the island deserves to be recognized, you have the right to do that – it is called ‘constituent service.’

In a time when Christians and Jews around the world are being slaughtered through terrorism and man’s inhumanity to man for their religious beliefs, must our own Brigantine religious organizations be subject to second-class status and used as pawns by our democratically elected officials using the Constitution as a fig leaf to further their agenda?

I sure hope these same council members will not be hiding behind the Constitution when the menorah and Nativity scene during Hanukkah and Christmas is placed at the lighthouse this coming December. Will they now disappear from our sight? If you follow their logic on display last week, that may be next. We shall see. But I would suggest council and city manager do some legal research first.

P.S. Thank you, Catholic Daughters of America in Brigantine, for all your good works.

James Mackey

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3 thoughts on “Reader feedback: Brigantine Council & Catholic Daughters of America”

  1. Public Safety Supporter

    Love the way people throw around the separation of church and state without actually knowing what’s actually written, and how it’s worded. Same goes for the right to bear arms. People pick and choose passages out of context and work it to their advantage. Thank you to ANY organization that provides assistance and charity to residents of the island, religious based or not

    1. Public Safety Supporter is s-o-o right. The council needs to read and understand this, if they are able without input from the “party”!!

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