Wood says he will boycott Bahai talk
Wingecarribee Shire Council narrowly voted by six councillors to five on Monday to allow the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai of Wingecarribee to offer a short prayer and to formally present a statement on world peace to councillors.
The presentation is scheduled to take five minutes and during the past 10 years this statement has been presented to world leaders and heads of state of every country in the world, including Prime Minister John Howard and US presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton.
But Cr Wood said he objected to receiving a speech from an organisation he claimed was connected to the Muslim faith.
"I find it quite strange that Cr Larry Whipper is again claiming to be a man of peace when his actions don't always indicate that," he said.
"I'm strongly against this and Cr Whipper has done it again with these divisive suggestions to council.
"It's not in the best interests for this to take place and I won't be present if it is carried."
Cr Paul Tuddenham also spoke out against the motion, saying council should not be supporting a body which was not representative of Australians, while Cr Gordon Lewis questioned what impact the speech would actually have on world peace.
However, others like Cr Peter Reynolds were surprised at the one-eyed views of some councillors and asked what they were scared of in hearing the statement.
Yesterday, Cr Whipper said he was disappointed about the reaction from some of his fellow councillors and said it was gross ignorance by Cr Wood to claim the Bahai were Muslims when they were persecuted by fundamentalist Muslims and forced to flee their own country.
Describing himself as a member of the Vedanta religion, a follower of all faiths, Cr Whipper said he had no problems in hearing God in any language or prayer.
"I will be warning the Bahai about Cr Wood's intentions in advance so they are not offended on the night but I do find it very sad," Cr Whipper said.
"I would also like to point out that this notice was put forward by a representative of the Bahai who wrote to me. Rather than being fearful, I believe that we should be honoured that the Bahai have chosen to speak to us in this way."
©Copyright 2002, Southern Highland News (Australia)