Tehachapi City Council Will Continue Prayer During Meetings
September 23~ 2009
For the past six months~ Tehachapi City Council meetings have begun with an invocation prayer~ but stopped after the city received a six-page letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation that said the council’s actions were unconstitutional.
Mayor Linda Vernon said the prayers were stopped for one meeting so the council could discuss the issue.
“We wanted to make sure that we were acting within the law and what our constitutional rights were. So~ there were a lot of aspects we were looking at and we just wanted to make sure we were approaching it from the right perspective and protecting the city~” said Vernon.
And while the city was fearful a lawsuit could follow~ they now believe they have the law on their side and have decided to continue to have a prayer before the start of each meeting.
“The council voted to continue our sectarian prayer at the beginning or the opening of every council meeting just as we have been~" said Vernon~ "and the participants or the clergy that would be invited would be from a variety of faiths and denominations and it would be done on a rotating basis.”
The city also says they will not tell anyone leading the prayer what they can or can not say.
Many residents are glad the council will go on with having a prayer before the council meeting.
Marty Smith said~ “I don’t mind them doing it~ in fact~ I think it’s a good thing. If we had a little bit more prayer~ probably~ I believe we would have a few less problems in the world.”
Marybelle Gassaway agreed~ saying~ “Our country is in kind of a mess right now and I think we need all the prayers we can get.”
The city said in the past few weeks they have had numerous phone calls and e-mails of support from residents but also from as far as North Carolina and Minnesota.
The city said they are unsure whether the FFRF will send another letter or even attempt to bring a lawsuit against the city~ but the city said they are acting within their constitutional rights when it comes to freedom of speech.