Lodi mayor leans toward uncensored prayer
September 30, 2009
Alex Murashko — The Examiner
Going into tonight’s Lodi City Council meeting designated to discuss the issue of allowing prayer before meetings, Mayor Larry Hansen said he has a workable solution.
The Sacramento Bee is reporting that Hansen said, “I’m leaning toward having an opportunity for any individual to offer a prayer prior to the council meeting, and the prayer would be uncensored.”
Hansen said also he is leaning toward following a policy suggested by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which would specify that the prayer is not part of the council agenda.
“We’re looking at doing a non-agendized invocation,” he said, “where people can pray according to the dictates of their conscience.”
The ADF along with former Navy Chaplain Gordon Kligenschmitt joined the fray over prayer when the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) threatened Lodi officials in May with a lawsuit over the city’s invocations that often invoke the name of Jesus. Klingenschmitt, founder of the Pray in Jesus Name Project, sent a letter this week to city officials stating that he will post billboards on local highways which detail how council members voted on the issue should prayer or using ‘Jesus’ name not be allowed.
The Tehachapi City Council, which also was threatened with a lawsuit from FFRF, recently voted unanimously to not put limits on what religious leaders say during opening prayers for its meetings.
Other California cities have also been confronted with challenges to prayer policies.
Tracy recenlty decided not to change its official policy that allows speakers to say what they want during prayers, according to an article in the Tracy Press. Instead, the city will send out letters to those who sign up, asking them to limit what they say during their prayers, which would include dropping references to Jesus Christ.
On Tuesday, the Turlock City Council unanimously approved the same policy Hansen said he is leaning toward, one that still allows religious leaders to say what they want during the invocation.