The Macon Telegraph is reporting that tomorrow, Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis will help lead a Ramadan forum and feast, and the event will be held at City Hall in Council Chambers. After an informational session, the community is invited to participate in a "feast."
I have no issue with Ellis converting to Islam, but I would have issues with him converting City resources for personal or religious use. This is a religious ceremony, so unless the City intends to make this public property available to other faiths that wish to use the facilities, then this crosses the boundary between the necessary separation of church and state-and maybe this incident makes it a little more clear why such separation is needed.
Here are my questions:
1) Has the Mayor used City resources to advertise this event? Someone obviously sent out a press release, and I know from several sources that council members got an email invitation. Apparently other clergy were also invited. Was this done through his office, during work hours, using city equipment, and done by an employee who was on the city's payroll at the time?
2) Who will be paying for the "feast?" I assume that it is the Macon Islamic Center, but I think it's a question worth asking.
3) Will city employees have to work late to provide security or otherwise "cover" the event? If so, who foots the bill?
It costs something to keep the building open after hours.
The problem here is that this is a slippery slope. I don't know what the current city policy is about groups using City Hall for religious events, but the Mayor may be setting a precedent that Macon will have to live with long after he leaves office.