LEAGUE CITY — With a room full of residents and council members, League City’s council meeting began as it has for years.

League City Mayor Tim Paulissen asked for those in the room to silence their cellphones and then introduced Pastor Dave Schroeder of Lakeside Lutheran Church

“Almighty God, bless this meeting with your divine presence and guidance,” Schroeder prayed.

Those in the audience listened silently with bowed heads and answered with “amen” when Schroeder finished the invocation. The scene is not rare for council meeting in the area, but a Wisconsin-based nonprofit had hoped it would not happen.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Paulissen last week asking that League City stop the practice of having a prayer before city council meeting because the practice is “coercive and beyond the authority of any government.”

After the prayer Tuesday night, the meeting quickly moved on to topics such as residents’ concerns over development, arguments over committee appointments and budget discussions. But when given a chance, League City’s council members were eager to lash out at the Wisconsin group.

“The most important issue we’ll deal with tonight — which is not even on the agenda — is defending our right to pray,” said Councilman Todd Kinsey.

Speaking directly to the foundation members who might have been watching, Kinsey said that if the prayer offended them, they could not watch.

“We have a constitutional right to pray, just as you have a right not to,” Kinsey said. “I’m offended you don’t believe in God, but you don’t have to answer to me. You’ll have to answer to him when your time comes.”

Other council members also chimed in with support for the practice of prayer at the start of the meeting.

“That’s for all you folks in Wisconsin,” Councilwoman Geri Bentley said before crossing herself.

Councilman Andy Mann said he had received many emails in support of the prayer and asked that people keep sending them in. Councilwoman Heidi Thiess said she had just returned from a trip to Wisconsin and thanked the mayor for standing firm in the face of the group’s request.

“We don’t have to tangle with half-wits like that,” she said.

Elizabeth Cavell, a staff attorney for the foundation, said it was one of their League City members — the foundation has nearly 20,000 members nationwide and 900 in Texas — who brought the city’s practice to their attention. In the letter, Cavell asks the city to discontinue the practice and also pointed out that the U.S. Supreme will take up the issue of prayer at city council meetings when the case of Galloway v. Town of Greece reaches them next year.

Paulissen has said several times that the city council would continue to do as it has in the past.

“Until somebody — my council — decides they want to stop this or some higher authority tells me to stop this, I am going to continue the status quo,” Paulissen said.

(36) comments

Kevin Lang

Nothing wrong with continuing the prayers. However, these council members seem to be doing it for the wrong reason. Doing it to spite the Freedom From Religion folks is not noble, nor, I believe, is not in line with God's intent for our prayers.

Gary Miller

I suspect you are a "go along to get along" person.
Ignoring the kook fringe is real backbone.

Centerpointe Moderator

The arrogance and unprofessionalism shown by the Mayor and City Council continues to astound. It's literally jaw-dropping. An established and authentic special interest group raises a valid church-state separation question, and here's a summary of the response:

(1) Thiess resorts to name-calling
(2) Kinsey personally channels God's wrath as he feels uniquely authorized to do
(3) Bentley issues a defiant religious gesture which, in this context, is leveraged at non-Christian believers as the equivalent of the middle finger
(4) Paulissen (via KTRH) references the fact that League City has been engaging in prayer in this official capacity fashion for the last 52 years and has no intention of changing.

Well, here's some news for Paulissen and the rest of you (drumroll, please):

Things have changed in the past fifty two years. Society has evolved. Just as a tip-of-the-iceberg example, right around the corner of West Walker Street from City Hall, there's a little residential subdivision chock full of municipal taxpayers (remember them?! taxpayers?!) who show incredible diversity in both ethnicity and religious traditions. We have all four of the world's major religions represented JUST ON MY ONE CUL-DE-SAC!!!!

Is there a single one of you elected representatives who could EVEN NAME the world's top four religions (as measured by number of adherents) without having to first look it up on Wikipedia?? I would put my money on NO.

Congratulations, guys. Rather than meeting this latest social positioning challenge objectively with a professional and coordinated smooth response along the lines of "We take the FFR request on advisement even as we value our traditions", you've once again proven your own overriding arrogance and sheer ignorance. You are a collective embarrassment to the unfortunate citizens you represent.

And I reckon that special interest groups like FFR will continue to bait you into showing exactly those true colors. That's what's actually happening here, eh? Apparently you're not in possession of the requisite level of political sophistication required to realize that. This is less about the stated issue (church-state separation) and more about stimulating Council into displaying its name-calling, brimstone-flinging, bird-flipping, yesteryear-clinging ignorance, so that the voters can know what they're up against in the way of a seated Council. And in this latest case, the tactic has succeeded, in spades.

jody marabella

The only arrogance here is you.. It's people like you that want to take the rights of other people away..if people want to pray that is their right.. If they do not want to pray then they do not have to .. So they world has changed in 52 years as it should, but it's people like you trying to take away the right of those that choose to keep their fate .. Your welcome to your Godless world as we are welcome to believe and prey .. So take your liberal beliefs and practice what you preach,,,

Todd Kinsey

You both seem to know as much about the Constitution as the dolts from Wisconsin. This organization and many like it have completely perverted the establishment clause in the Constitution. So let me give you a little civics lesson. The establishment clause says, "that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof."

You see there were and still are many denominations of Christianity and the original 13 colonies were largely established under one of these faiths. For example Pennsylvania was founded by the Quakers and Virginia was largely founded under the auspices of the Church of England. There were many other denominations in each state so the founders, in their great wisdom, made certain that Congress could not establish an official religion thereby forcing someone to practice a faith that was in conflict with their own or prevent them from practicing their faith.

To this day the U.S. Congress still begins each session with a prayer just as this body does. Moreover, there are cities like Detroit that broadcast the muslim call to prayer and Christians don't take offense. In fact, I feel certain this hypocrissy riddled organization hasn't sent Detroit a letter to ask the muslims to stop broadcasting their prayer throughout the city.

Long story short; I have a CONSTITUTIONAL right to pray just as you have the right not to.

Kathy Porterfield

_ not in possession of the requisite level of political sophistication _

Dear Mod Squad, you might want to lower your expectations on the Mayor and Council. If you lower your expectations you will not be so disappointed when they act strange. Just back off a little and have fun with it, you will feel so much better.

Kevin Lang

Todd, where your argument breaks down is that many Christian groups ARE offended by other groups prayers, or their daily or ceremonial attire, or even their mere existence.

As I've noted before, when dealing with any of our freedoms, we have a responsibility to respect our fellow citizens' rights, too. That is why I've suggested some level of moderation. Keep it short and sweet, and I think it's perfectly reasonable for others to indulge you. Spend too much time on pomp and circumstance, and then it starts getting obnoxious to expect others to indulge you.

At this point, I think the council should play it by ear. Monitor the perception of your constituents--both in the chambers and watching the video. If it starts getting significant bad reactions, then look for compromises. Since that prayer isn't official city business, perhaps the council members that want to pray together could convene outside chambers for a couple of minutes prior to the start of the meeting.

I do sense some ambiguity in your remarks. You want the folks from Wisconsin to see the prayer as no big deal. However, your willingness to call them dolts, and to essentially tell them to shove it, indicates that, to you, this is a big deal. So, if it's a big deal to you, then why do you think it should not be a big deal to them or any other non-Christian organization?

I'd just like to see you build paths of understanding, rather than walls of misunderstanding. The citizen that contacted the Freedom from Religion folks is one of OUR residents--one of YOUR constituents. You and that person probably still have a huge overlap of common interests. Are you going to outcast that person because of one issue? Especially one issue that technically has nothing to do with the city's business?

In short, feel free to keep the prayer, but also feel feel free to understand how others may perceive it, and ask for their understanding about why you do it and how you intend to use the prayer to make OUR city better.

Gary Miller

What LC CC should do is ignore that one objector. He, She or it can come after prayers or suffer through it.

Kathy Porterfield

He did not really mean to tell you that you are stupid (dolts).

Todd meant to say,

I will pray for you. Every day I pray for -everyone-.

Jeremy Winter

Mr. Lang,

Is it fair to say that that the vast majority of LC residents have no issue with our traditional prayer? I believe council does respect opposing groups. They have the right to plug their ears or walk out until prayer is over. Folks are free to choose.

Kevin Lang

I think it's a fine line. It's true that there is no such thing as freedom from religion. However, in this case, it's a government meeting, and while there will be aspects of government business that some may find offensive, or at least be put off by, prayer meeting are not official government business.

I don't think it's unreasonable to ask council, while in session during their scheduled council meetings, to limit their business to official council business.

At this point, I don't see any reason to eliminate the invocations, but I don't see any reason why council can't at least look at opportunities to moderate the message so that it serves its purpose without appearing to alienate parts of the constituency.

Centerpointe Moderator

Todd, you might want to do some fact-checking, which is the lifeblood of any politician (or at least it should be). The city you reference is apparently Hamtramck (population 22,000), not Detroit, and it wasn't the "cities" that broadcast the call to prayer - it was private mosques. The extent of Hamtramck's municipal involvement was apparently to negotiate a noise ordinance variance that allowed the call to prayer (but only within certain hours) in much the same way that the ringing of Christian church bells is also permitted.

Kevin Lang

A couple points about rights. I have the right to free speech, however, I can be told to shut up in order to allow someone else to exercise their right to free speech. We have the right to assemble, but we can be ordered to disperse so that others can assemble.

Please also keep this in perspective: Your employer has every right to insist that you manage the balance between personal business and your work. The constituent that contacted Freedom from Religion IS one of your employers. Right now, in the judgement of most of your other "employers", you probably aren't stepping on anyone's freedoms or rights. However, the attitude with which you responded to the request is disrespectful. The perception you give is that if someone doesn't like a little prayer, they aren't worthy of participation in your city business. That could come across as a message that they either need to convert or be left out, and THAT, I believe is where you could meet with constitutional challenges.

Gary Miller

Wrong again Kevjlang.
I can't be told to shut up so you can speak. You can speak while I'm speaking or wait untill I finish.
No gaterering of citizens can be disperced so other citizens can gather.
WE have the right to assemble where ever we want, whenever we want and in any number we want. You have the same right.

Kevin Lang

IHOG, no matter how you want to interpret it, the fact remains that you cannot use your rights to deny mine. It didn't work that way in 1789, and it doesn't work that way in 2013.


Meanwhile at General JBG's Headquarters right outside of DICKINSON, TEXAS,...
the media is conducting and interview of the General:
General: "We are proud of you LEAGUE, CITY!" "We prayed that your faith in God faileth not,...and let me tell you, IT DID NOT!! God wants me to tell you all, THAT HE WILL STAND BY YOU IN ANY BATTLE YOU WAGE FOR HIM!" In other words the battle is HIS, ....and He has our backs!
I want to say to Satan, and his decimated army, "GOD'S people are through backing up!" "We are on the move again,...and we are not going to continue to be confined inside of the four walls of the Houses of GOD,..but WE ARE COMING OUT,....AND WE ARE GOING TO MOVE OUT, TAKING BACK WHAT YALL HAVE STOLEN FROM US!"
Satan is a liar and the father of the same! God bless Pastor Dave Schroeder,..who was blessed with the task of sending our response to SATAN and his followers,...many of whom are hiding out inside League City. "Listen,...we know you are there,..by the unction of the HOLY GHOST,....nothing is hidden from HIM,...and HE hides nothing from us!
Another thing, I resent the the letter sent to League City with the purpose of CALLING attention to that Council praying to GOD! See how stupid the devil is, he is assuming that Christians in League City did not know what they were doing!
Let the word go out, to the four corners of Texas, and other states, and Yes Wisconsin too, that we are not finished with Satan and his folks yet! Not by a long SHOT! We aim to take this country back,....get in our way, and .............
PS One of the things Satan and his did not expect, and it took them by surprise, was the MANY CHRISTIANS,..and the out pouring support for the things of GOD, which transpired in League City! I say this to you all,...You are the light shining on a hill, and a banner,....the rest of us will march behind as we go forward with this war, which was set in motion by GOD ALMIGHTY HIMSELF years ago in a Garden!
Genesis 3:15. God bless you all for standing up for GOD and Christians everywhere!!! I'm proud to be call a Christian today!!!!!!!

love my island

I hope they pray that they will elect some county officials that can go a week or two without getting a felony.

Jeremy Winter

Mr. Lang,

Challenging the majority on perception seems petty. Perhaps the groups perception is off balance. Could it be that the group wants to stir the pot? You may be correct about attitude? Have not yet viewed last night's council meeting. Find it hard to believe Mayor Paulisson would be anything but sensitive towards a potential lawsuit.

Kevin Lang

I think it's a misconception that we're a pure "majority rules" society. The majority does not have the right to deny rights to the minority.

We don't know if the group want's to stir the pot, or if they're just asking for a reasonable accomodation. I think it would be perfectly reasonable to have a conversation with them. There's no harm in seeking a reasonable compromise.

Paul Hyatt

But the minority have no problem denying our rights do they???? It would seem that the minority love to trample upon our rights and they have many like you who seem to agree....

Kevin Lang

Paul, we have a Constitution in this country. Please tell me ONE right that I've lost in the past 50 years. When I shut up to let someone else speak, THAT is not a loss of my rights. Just because you grasp at rhetoric doesn't make it true.

Gary Miller


A reasonable compromise?
I have a dollar, you want my dollar. You think a reasonable compromise is we each get half my dollar.
No compromise is ever reasonable. It's always some good and some bad. People who want something they don't deserve always want a compromise.


You don't compromise with SATAN! you give him an inch,..then he then wants a mile! The only thing he understands,...is that TWO EDGED SWORD upside his head!!!
Naw man!! They come marching on League City, because they knew if they could TAKE League City out ,...all the CITIES to the South, like Dickinson, Santa Fe, LaMarque, Texas City,..Hitchcock, Tiki Island, Bayou Vista, Friendswood, and Galveston would run away like Jackals! Yea,...right! However, God's people of light STOOD STRONG!!! I'm so proud of League City, I had a diet coke party this morning! Amen! I said Amen!!!
Know this,...Where LIGHT BE and Abide,....DARKNESS cannot tarry and exist!
We are on the move now,.....keep your heads down,...and get the "HEY" out of the way,....We will not listen to SATAN'S Chin Music of reconciliation! God started this war, and only HE can stop it! ( Genesis 3:15!! )


God bless League City,...Galveston County, Texas, and God Bless America!

Island Bred

Ya know my mom had a friend in Galveston years ago named Dorothy. Really nice woman, kind, a great mom and a very stunning woman as well - until she lost her ever lovin mind over jesus and wars, and church. Wound up in Graves - crazy as the day was long. Sad story but true none the same. She started attending some holy roller church and she just lost it. Lithium didn't help alot and the shock treatments just left her worse. Sometimes the weakness of the mind just sort of overshadows the actual topic............that is sad too.


Many can't see,...they can't hear, and they make up for all by not being able to understand! Ahhhhh, the Satanic chin music we are beginning to hear. It was all foretold by Jesus Christ. Society has evolved Satan and his followers say, GOD has not,...and His WORD has no,..and HIS people better not!

Paul Hyatt

JB many on this board do not understand that this is a war not between flesh and blood, but between principalities.... They do not understand that Satan is real and do not want to hear that he is....

Lars Faltskog

Some of that music is da bomb!! I especially like to hear the Beastie Boys. Are they still around? Anyone remember The Ultramagnetics? "Poppa Large" - I think I'll put it on my ringtone, LOL.

Island Bred

Satan is your boogyman not mine JBG -

Gary Miller

One of their League City members?
Why should we even consider what ONE wants? I'm sure they can survive a one minute prayer.
20,000 members? Less than one for each city council in the U.S.
20,000 members qualifies them as a FRINGE group.

Lars Faltskog

Each time I read or hear an emotional "we have the right to pray" and "you can't take our rights away" - they are comments that are on the lowest level of thinking.

Pure emotion with no basis other than to isolate those who are not believers like them. Folks like NurseJayne have it down. There's a time and a place for everything. A municipal meeting is simply not one of them. Just like I don't want or expect the checker at Krogers or Arlens to say a prayer with me as I'm signing off for my grocery purchases.

As I've said before, it's a big world out there. I recall taking a philosophy class at UT years ago. It was quite an eye opener. It made me realize that things are much more than po-dunk christian beliefs. There are those who [gasp] believe no fairy tale god exists. And, in particular, the women in this philosophy class would die before they "pray" to a man who represents this supreme being - which has been the basis of oppression to women for centuries. This not only applies to antiquated chrisitanity, but the muslim faiths as well.

Ditch the poopy religion, League City. Get with the 21st century. Stop acting like redneckville even though you pray and stick to your guns like cowboys and Indians. President Obama was right: "they cling to their religion and guns".

Hillary/Michelle 2016
"Let's Stay the Course - Liberty and Freedom for All (not just christians)

Kevin Lang

Do you deserve to have "Praise Allah!" shouted when you walk down the street? Do you deserve to NOT have "Praise Allah!" shouted when you walk down the street? I'm sure that your response is that this is a Christian country and those Muslims have no right to shout that stuff at you. However, you'd probably think it perfectly reasonable to walk down the street shouting "Praise Jesus", because, afterall, you're in the majority.

We're talking RIGHTS here, not dollars. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that these rights are apportioned solely based on where you sit with regards to the majority. I guess that in your mind those that are speech impaired, because they're in the minority, have no freedom of speech. Learn to talk, and then you can have that freedom, right?

I don't care whether a group is 1 person, 20,000, 20 million, or 200 million. They are still citizens and they still have the same rights as you and I have. In one or more forms or fashions, we are all a member of some minority. So, which of your rights to you think I should step on?

Jeremy Winter

Call it Podunk, Redneck, low level thinker or any other derogatory terminology, the vast majority of LC residents call it Faith in Christianity and Community. City council meetings are comcommunity meetings that have a long tradition of god fearing citizens attendance. Let us pray...

Lars Faltskog

Response to winmack posted at 1:00 pm on Thu, Jul 25, 2013:

"God-fearing"? LMAO, WTF. Why do so many christians fear god so much, and use such oppressive terminology? Shouldn't he/she be a kind, loving, and forgiving entity who makes you happy to be alive?

No amount of prayin' is going to pay the bills. Each time I call AT and T with an issue about my service, I likely am routed to someplace outside of Bangledesh. There are also LC folks who aren't christians. It's not like it was in the 60s. It 'aint no little ol' one-horse town anymore. Time to move on...and time to put away childish things (god, story biblebooks).

Kevin Lang

Anyone ever hear of the "Puritan Work Ethic". I understand that the Puritans were quite the religious sort. However, it seems that they also knew what they were supposed to be doing when it was time to work. I'm assuming that they didn't spend the workday praying, since it's not called the "Puritan Prayer Ethic". I'm happy that our council has their faith and is proud of that faith. However, I wish their work ethic was such that they put more effort into fixing the things that League City needs to fix, and I don't think that lack of quality praying time is foremost of those needs.

Lars Faltskog

Well, Kev. I don't think we'll be able to change years of sheepish, indoctrinative, and subliminal messaging. Many of these folks know no other way than to think that their little world revolves around an alien ghost that mysteriously came "down from heaven", et cetera. They're christian saints who will breed and perpetuate new christian, mind-numbing angels.

Who knows, maybe praying is what some folks need. More power to 'em. They just don't need to do it in municipal buildings. I'd rather get good city service from an atheist who knows his/her duty to serve than an incompetent holy roller who doesn't know which end is up. But he/she sure could recite a few banal bible verses at the drop of the hat.

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