(Editor’s note: Over the last few weeks, The Journal has published numerous letters from community members who are for and against the Pledge of Allegiance being said at the Mullis Center’s senior lunches. The Journal welcomes letters from both sides of the issue.)
It is disappointing to see the Journal publish a letter of personal attack with so many inaccuracies. While some diners want to continue to say the Pledge of Allegiance before lunch at the Mullis Center, others do not but remain silent to avoid criticism from louder voices. Many have told us they do not come to lunches because they do not like the pledge and prayer ceremony.
In fact, the number at lunches has declined over recent years, when the number of seniors on the island has increased substantially. Meanwhile, the number of receiving Meals on Wheels has risen sharply. The board concluded the ceremony is an obstacle to participation in the meals program. Our mission is to serve ALL seniors and disabled persons on San Juan Island, and we need to do what we can to fulfill that mission.
The Mullis Center’s board chair is elected annually to conduct its business meetings and to make policy and program decisions with other board members and staff. Lunch is only one of many programs at the Mullis Center. Attending lunches is not the duty of the chair.
The claim that omitting the pledge at the Mullis Center lunches is disrespecting the flag or military service is incorrect. There is nothing about having lunch that somehow requires saying the Pledge of Allegiance. You don’t do it at lunch at home, you don’t do it at a restaurant.
Personal political opinions have nothing to do with these new policies at the lunches. It is settled law that public prayer is unconstitutional, so we have also omitted saying grace at the lunches. Recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance was ruled unconstitutional if anyone is required or forced to participate. Saying the pledge as part of a pre-lunch ceremony could be regarded as a requirement. The Meals Program receives government funding, and we should follow the law. (See www.findlaw.com.)
On any Monday, Wednesday or Friday, we invite all islanders to join us between 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Seniors pay $5, or “youngsters” below 60 pay $7. WELCOME, ALL!
Mullis Center Chair