Local Government responds to ruling about prayer at public meeti - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Local Government responds to ruling about prayer at public meetings

Local Government responds to ruling about prayer at public meetings

Before every South Bend Common Council meeting there is a prayer.  Council President Oliver Davis says he appreciates Monday's Supreme Court ruling for laying out some parameters for that type of prayer.  "I think it's been a historical standpoint of the council to reflect that we are looking for divine help and we all need divine help in making decisions."

Davis agrees with the Supreme Court on this point, but he said more should be done to make sure they're not only Christian prayers.  "I'm cautious with that part of it.  I'm not a judge but as an elected official I appreciate it more when we stay open to all faiths," said Davis.
Davis said the Council did have a Jewish Rabbi for the first time in many years this past March.  And he'd like to see more diversity in the future, like a Muslim Imam or a moment of silence for those who don't believe in any God.  "It's our duty to respect the different faiths of the people who we serve," said Davis.   

South Bend Deputy Mayor Mark Neal agrees, "from my perspective I think we should certainly promote all faith traditions including those who do not believe."

But Annie Laurie Gaylor with the Freedom from Religion Foundation said to promote all faiths prayer needs to be taken out of  government meetings altogether.  "We don't think there should be prayer at all...20-30 percent of the population in non religious and that's a lot of people to exclude and when you go before your city council you shouldn't be presented with a religious test."

The next person lined up to lead the prayer at South Bend Council meeting Pastor Fred Preston doesn't see it that way.  "It's what they should do, because the Bible tells us to pray always and the Bible says to pray for those in authority."

Gaylor said they'll continue to fight against prayer in government meetings.  In fact she's encouraging non-believers to request equal time at all meetings.

In Elkhart they do have a "prayer" listed on their council meeting agendas but the Council President said they don't say anything out loud it's just a moment of silence.

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