What comes first? God or country?: West Melbourne's council meeting policy of saying the Pledge of Allegiance before a moment of silence has a former county commissioner riled up.
WEST MELBOURNE, FL (Florida Today) -- Water rates. How to spend taxpayer money. Curbing crime. Oh, and God before country.
One of these is not typical on a government meeting agenda, yet all have come before the West Melbourne City Council.
At issue, for some: Council members open meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance, then a
moment of silence. The city's rules set that order. But Robert's Rules
of Order - the Bible, as it were, of legislative bodies - says God before
country, the prayer or invocation before the pledge.
two-term Brevard County commissioner Helen Voltz, an 11-year resident
of the city, pointed out the discrepancy to the seven-member council's
attention last week.
just that every meeting I've ever gone to, it's the prayer first and
then the pledge," she said. "That's the way it's always done at the
county ... It should be God first, and then country. That's my belief. I
think most people think it's that way."
Melbourne, meetings are opened with an invocation by a rotating guest
and followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. It's the same in Titusville
and Palm Bay, for example, too.
"Obviously, as a Christian, I'm all for God being first," Deputy Mayor John Tice said.
Procedure here is unlikely to change, though.
City Attorney James Wilson assured the council members in a brief discussion they are following local meeting rules.
to our rules of procedure we've adopted, we are correct. That's pretty
much all I can tell you from a legal standpoint," he said. "From a
religious standpoint, we can always argue about it, I guess."