Just a few days ago, the Wilmington City Council (in Delaware) was thinking about bringing prayer back to their meetings. As one member put it, “that helps keep the devil out.”
The problem was that their prayer was explicitly Christian, including the phrase “Our heavenly Father.” It was bound to become the subject of a lawsuit — which is precisely why they had replaced the prayer with a moment of silence until even that wasn’t good enough anymore. I guess they didn’t give a damn what happened with the taxpayers’ money as long as Jesus was happy.
It looks like they’ve finally learned their lesson… Kind of.
They still want to bring prayer back, but they wrongly think a watered down version of it will be okay.
After the removal of a spoken Christian prayer and pushback to silent reflection, Wilmington City Council will institute a “universal prayer.”
A resolution outlining the change will be introduced Thursday with sponsorship from 11 out of 13 council members, more than enough to pass.
[City Council President Hanifa] Shabazz, who is Muslim, said the new prayer will not reflect a particular deity and will be “somewhat in line with people’s interpretation of the separation of church and state.”
“Somewhat” is the key word there… because a “universal prayer,” by definition, excludes atheists altogether.
As it stands, the law doesn’t allow city councils to promote religion. The only way invocations are okay is if citizens who want to deliver one have an opportunity to do so (within certain parameters). A city council-endorsed prayer, even one that’s designed to be neutral, is likely to be struck down by a court.
More to the point, if the prayer is so neutral as to include “everybody,” then why not just go back to the moment of silence? I don’t get how a pointless prayer to Nobody In Particular is somehow better than a silent prayer to the Deity of Your Choice.
This problem hasn’t been fixed. These councilors need to get their act together before they’re hit with a lawsuit.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)