Vice President Mike Walker made the request to include an invocation late last month because “it gives everyone a chance to reflect and ask God for wisdom and guidance.” That’s great… if you’re part of the “everyone” who needs that kind of crutch. It’s useless for the rest of us.
But Walker’s proposal, as we now know, is legal. As long as anyone who wants to deliver an invocation is given a fair chance at speaking, and there’s no playing favorites, all is fine. But when atheists, or Satanists, or Muslims are excluded from the list, lawsuits could be filed.
You would think an attorney would know all this, but here’s what City Law Director Gene Hollins said:
“In summary, council members can begin legislative meetings with prayer, and it is not a problem if the prayer generally espouses the Christian faith,” Hollins said in the memo. “Council can ask members to stand for prayer, refer specifically to God/Jesus, and do not have to make any special effort to provide opportunities for persons of other faiths to offer invocations.”
Hollins cautioned that the invocation cannot be used “as an opportunity to proselytize or advance any one or to disparage any other faith or belief.”
The last part is correct… but what the hell is he talking about in the first part? It is very much a problem if the invocations “generally” espouse Christianity because that implies non-Christians aren’t being given an opportunity to speak. Council members absolutely have to make sure people of other faiths are given the chance to deliver invocations. That’s how we know their faiths aren’t being disparaged.
Hollins is giving contradictory advice. Is he aware of that? How about the members of the council?
Until they can make sure the policy they go with is legal, they should abandon invocation practice entirely before doing something that violates the law.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)