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  • Writer's pictureJared Cramer

Sign displayed during prayer may reignite Ottawa Co. lawsuit

Updated: Apr 18

Below is a news story from Fox 17 about the rector of our parish.

A recent silent protest against a local reverend's beliefs may have reignited a lawsuit against Ottawa County.

On Feb. 13, Reverend Jared Cramer delivered his first pre-meeting prayer to the board. The St. John Episcopal Church Grand Haven reverend touched on a number of topics, including mental health and supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

Directly in front of him was Commissioner Roger Belknap, with his computer displaying a sticker that read, "THE WAR ON CHILDREN.COM"

"I don't know, maybe because we had a minister that attended today that was a sponsor of that event," Belknap explained.

Cramer filed a religious discrimination lawsuit back in October. He claims the board limited who could give the invocation. His lawsuit went on to say the only ones who have delivered it have the same or similar religious views as the Ottawa County Chairperson Joe Moss.

Cramer was one of the organizers of the Grand Haven First-ever Pride Festival.

An event Belknap says concerned him, and included a drag queen event where children were seen handing dollar bills to the performers.

"Whether or not I think that happens as an adult, as a consenting adult, that's one thing. But when you have children doing that, you're gonna have them confused. I'm sorry, that's just the way I see the world," Belknap explained.

Cramer's attorney, Sarah Howard, now argues in a new filing that Belknaps's sign was intentional, demonstrating his lack of respect for Cramer's views.

Ottawa County's recent invocation policy is "intended to acknowledge and express the [Commission's] respect for numerous religious denominations and faiths represented."

Howard's brief explains that the county asked for the lawsuit to be dropped because of an "assumption from an unanswered email and letter."

She believes Belknap's sign at the meeting Feb. 13 proves her client's request to lead the county in prayer was ignored.

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