To the Editor:
We live in a country where we are free to pray wherever, whenever and within whatever religion we prefer. We are also free to not pray. If one wants a religious blessing on local governmental business decisions, one could do so at home, in the car or wherever they wanted before going to the public business meeting because we are free to do so.
One could also ask for that blessing during their church service in the church they choose to go to. Why, then, would an elected official feel it necessary to have their personal religious-based prayer during a public meeting?
Unlike the higher governments, local governments require citizens of all faiths or no faith to go before the board for business like zoning, permitting, business licenses, variance permission and the like. And so it makes sense that the meetings provide a respectful environment that considers the differences in belief systems within the public that the elected officials serve. Engaging the public in a mayor’s personal religion or even a display of various secular prayers at a public business meeting sets quite an uncomfortable precedent for any mayor or future boards who may have a wildly different belief system (or even a self-declared religion) they “proclaim” as the norm. If deemed necessary, a moment of silence would serve a better solution for all.