|RC Council discusses issue of prayer in meetings|
|Monday, 04 February 2013 15:41|
Now Rapid City Council members are being asked to weigh those two sides and decide whether to keep the prayer that begins their council meetings, or let it go in favor of something less religious. The issue came to the forefront when a local person complained to a national group that focuses on separation of church and state. The Freedom From Religion Foundation then wrote a letter to the Rapid City Council saying "Prayer at government meetings is unnecessary and inappropriate." It's standing room only at Monday's meeting, where the majority of people who spoke up said they favor keeping the opening prayer. A local pastor said he is proud of the no-nonsense state motto, "Under God, the people rule." A self-described atheist in the audience told the council that a moment of silence would include everyone, and wouldn't make non-Christians feel like second class. Aldermen Chad Lewis and Charity Doyle said they don't want a "reactionary" policy that comes forward because of an outside organization that "bullies" them into changing the tradition in Rapid City. But Alderman Steve Laurenti said he will fight for a policy that allows the council to defend itself if a lawsuit arises. City attorney Joel Landeen said a policy would not direct WHAT is said during an invocation because doing so could, in fact, be construed as "establishment". After much discussion, the council voted 6-to3 to have staff draft a policy to be considered by council members at meetings next month.
Tessa Thomas/Julie Oberlander