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posted: 5/18/2014 12:01 AM

Let's skip prayer, get on with the meeting

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Let's skip prayer, get on with the meeting

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld as constitutional the giving of sectarian prayers at public meetings such as those at city council meetings. The court's reasoning was that such invocations are nothing more than a tradition of this country since our founding, and are simply ceremonial in nature.

However, tradition is simply a long-standing practice, and because a practice is long-standing does not necessarily make it lawful. Thus until 1920 we had the tradition that women could not vote in the U.S., but we enacted a constitutional amendment doing away with that tradition, so traditions can change as time marches on.

And the concept of invocations being merely ceremonial depends on the viewpoint of those in attendance at public meetings. A prayer that is merely ceremonial to some might be offensive to others having to listen to it. Thus I'm not sure that a Jew or a Muslim attending a city council meeting and hearing a prayer in the name of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior would feel very comfortable.

What is the need for prayers at city council meetings? Often we are told that the purpose of such prayers is to solemnize the meeting. I elected my mayor and city council members because I thought they had the talent and ability to act upon municipal problems, and it never occurred to me that they could not do so unless they prayed to God ahead of time.

I have full confidence in the abilities of my mayor and council members, so let's just start the meeting and get down to business. Let's stop the invocations, and keep religion out of government meetings.

If we have the need for spiritual guidance, we may pray in our homes and in our churches, but we don't need to pray in city hall.

Theodore M. Utchen


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