Thursday letters: Open meetings with prayer

July 10, 2014 

20010816 PRAYER

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KURT STRAZDINS

In the Greece, N.Y., prayer case, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that prayers are allowed at the start of meetings of deliberative government bodies such as school boards, county councils and state legislatures. The court reversed lower court decisions that required such prayers be non-sectarian (e.g., God, Heavenly Father or Lord).

The Fourth Judicial Circuit ruling in 2011 required boards, councils and the South Carolina’s Legislature to switch to non-sectarian prayers. Most did, and some bodies actually dropped prayer altogether and went to a moment of silence.

The Supreme Court’s ruling legalized sectarian prayers (e.g., Jesus, Allah and Jehovah) at such meetings if the prayers are given by randomly selected clergy and the body doesn’t discriminate in the selection of clergy.

The Pickens County School Board starts its meetings with a non-sectarian prayer, but I support switching to the Greece, N.Y., method. Prayers at the start of government meetings have a long history going back to the first meeting of the U.S. Congress in 1789. It is a tradition I believe government bodies should carry on.

Alex Saitta

Pickens County School Board Trustee

Pickens

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