Many events in the United States begin with the National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, and/or a prayer.
So, our question today is two-fold: To what extent do live auctions in the United States begin with a pledge, prayer or anthem? Secondly, is it appropriate?
I travel all over the United States as an auctioneer, and while I find the pledge, prayer and/or the anthem used prior to auctions in some regions of the country, I sense overall most attendees are far more interested in the auction getting underway and bidding on the property at auction.
Most buyers seem to find it unnecessary, but there are certainly buyers who find such appropriate and fitting.
Specifically in regard to prayer, of those auctioneers whom we spoke to about this, the range of comments were nearly one extreme to the other.
- “We begin every auction with a prayer with all attendees. We’ve done this for decades, and our attendees often compliment us for doing so …”
- “Certainly I’m not opposed to prayer but I would never impose my personal religious beliefs (or lack thereof) onto my auction crowed.”
Most importantly, any announcements prior to the auction other than what is required by law should be done for one purpose — and one purpose only — to encourage the attendees to bid and buy. That is any auctioneer’s fiduciary duty to his/her seller(s) and consignees.
I would offer that certainly a prayer or the like is indeed appropriate given extraordinary circumstances. For instance, after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, or following the 9/11 attacks here in the United States, a pledge, prayer or anthem might well be fitting and even expected.
Otherwise, for prayer especially — and for maybe too the pledge or anthem — such might be found more prevalent in the southern and Midwest states in the United States, where surveys show more religious and conservative leanings in those regions. And of course, auctioneers all over the country might pray privately and/or with staff before an auction event.
In summary, a prayer, pledge or an anthem involving the auction attendees prior to auction must be carefully considered in that it doesn’t seem to necessarily serve the client’s material needs but may be certainly acceptable to (or even desired by) the auction bidder audience.
Lastly, any pre-auction announcements other than customary terms and conditions require the seller’s knowledge and consent. Therefore discussing with potential sellers prior to engagement is prudent.
Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.