Prayer at public meetings par for course

Posted on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 12:14 pm

A recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning prayer at public meetings shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise to people living in this part of the world, but we believe it to be the right decision.

The high court was asked to decide the case regarding the town council in Greece, New York, starting public meetings with prayer. Justices ruled 5-4 that it was allowable under the Constitution as long as it’s not meant to put pressure on people to join or participate.

Few and far between are the local governing bodies that don’t begin with prayer. It’s never a long, drawn-out affair, mind you, but it does show the deference those leaders show to tradition of religion in government, while not establishing a religion of any kind.

For instance, the Harrison City Council has had a number of local pastors attend the regular monthly meeting and offer a prayer before the meeting starts. Most of those pastors do ask God to help guide aldermen as they make decision for the city and its residents, but never for guidance on a specific issue â” that might be over the top a bit.

Local school boards also open meetings with prayer, which could be an issue in the future.

A case in Columbia, South Carolina, takes school boards to task for opening with prayer because students are present at school board meetings. Lawyers are seeking a stop to that practice so the students aren’t exposed to it.

We’re not so sure that’s a valid argument. Most of the students we see at school board meetings have a little more trouble staying awake than worrying about a few words said at the beginning of the meeting.

It’s just a practice of tradition, and this country could use a little more tradition these days.

Harrison Daily Times

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