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January 16, 2002


Dear Mr. Octopus!

I attended the city inaugural service last week, as did many. I noticed that some of the candidates were asked to affirm their belief in God, while others were not. Is there an explanation for this? Thank you.

Seaven Gordon, Frederick


Mr. Gordon!

Both Alderman Donna Kuzemchak and Alderman Marcia Hall expressed very strong feelings about the inclusion of the affirmation at the end of their oath of office. Ms. Kuzemchak said that had the oath remained as it had previously been administered with "So Help Me God" at the end, she would have so sworn. However, she felt that an affirmation as presented by Clerk of The Circuit Court Sandra Dalton was inappropriate.

Ms. Hall, on the other hand, said that she believes very strongly in the constitutional "separation of church and state" and, therefore, opposed the inclusion of the affirmation in her oath. She said: "I was given the option (of including it or leaving it out) and I took it."

Also, there has been some conversation about the inclusion of a prayer in the ceremony. Alderman Kuzemchak said that the first minister asked to deliver such a prayer at the inauguration declined, saying it would be inappropriate.

We at The Tentacle don't know if you noticed, but the Rev. Mark Vandermeer, pastor of The Monocacy Valley Church, who delivered the prayer, was not identified as a minister in the printed program. And, also, the master of ceremonies at the event at The Weinberg Center For The Arts initially skipped the prayer. However, it was inserted later in the program. Those familiar with what happened on the stage that day say that it was an oversight.




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