Lodi City Council votes to keep prayer as ‘uncensored invocation’ (local reactions)
October 1, 2009
Terri Fraracci — The Examiner
After months of debate, the Lodi City Council voted 5-0 late last night to keep prayer before council meetings. A draft will now be drawn up to invite members of all faiths, as well as those not affiliated with any religious group; calling the non-affiliated invocation a Call to Civic Responsibility.
The sidewalks around Hutchins Street Square were lined with protesters and supporters for both sides of the debate well before the doors opened for the historic meeting. Some carried signs, some chanted, others sang. All were determined to let their voices be heard and support their beliefs. There was some argument and yelling as emotions rose outside. Those who spoke inside were passionate, but the meeting itself was held without incident.
The council moved the meeting to the square in anticipation of a large crowd and they were not disappointed. Please see – Lodi Invocation Meeting moved in anticipation of large crowd/ Schwabauer releases possible policies. Over 700 people attended and many were allowed to speak before the vote was cast nearly five hours into the meeting.
Under threat of a lawsuit from The Freedom From Religion Group and public humiliation from The Pray in Jesus’ Name Project, the council members voted the same way that Tehapachi and Tracy recently voted. All three towns have now voted to keep invocations; expanding the invitation to non-religious groups. Turlock voted to keep their policy which already allows the same.
Christians will still be allowed to invoke the name of Jesus. Non-Christians of faith will continue to be invited, and the non-religious will be included. Those who believe that invocation has no place in government proceedings lost their fight in Lodi.