While the Dayton Daily News reported the existence of a planned anti-abortion prayer rally over the weekend, they failed to note the time of the rally (5:30pm today) or to point out that the elected officials – State Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, and state Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miami Twp – are using government resources to help organize the event.
As with many such events, the prayer rally is paying lip service to the metric of being open to all faiths. Rep. Antani, in an e-mail to me said specifically “All pro life Christian, Catholics, Jews, Hindus etc are welcome to come.”
That said, both the keynote speaker (Secretary Husted) and Sen. Lehner are publicly Catholic1 and the rally is being led by a Catholic priest, Father Brian Phelps of Incarnation Centerville, which gives a strong impression that this event is both explicitly religious and strongly leaning toward a specific faith.
More troubling is that organization for the religious event explicitly used government resources, with those wishing to attend directed to contact Representative Antani’s office in Columbus2.
These phone calls and emails to the dot-gov addresses were being answered during normal business hours.
It is perverse that the same organizers who are embolded by the new federal administration have missed Trump’s call for reducing governmental spending.
If you are a constituent of Sen Lehner (614-466-4538) or Rep. Antani (614-466-6504), or a resident of Ohio and under Secretary Husted (614-466-2655), I’d encourage you to call and enquire why state governmental resources and employees are being used to organize explicitly religious events.
If you’d wish to ask them this in person, they will all be outside 1401 E. Stroop Road in Kettering at 5:30pm today, 24 Jan 2017. (Remember, no permit is required if you’re on a public space such as a sidewalk, as long as you are not blocking pedestrian traffic.)
If you’d like to contact the Dayton Daily News and inquire why they didn’t ask this very simple question, their “customer care” number is (937) 222-5700, and their feedback form is at https://myaccount.daytondailynews.com/Feedback.aspx
1 Rep. Antani did not make his religious affiliation explicit, nor is it listed on his webpage. When asked specifically via e-mail, the question was not answered.
2 I got an answering machine when I called back to ask for comment. [EDIT @ 1048: Rep. Antani’s office called back, said they’d discuss policy as well at the prayer rally, and simply said they’d pass my concerns along.]