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March 6, 2007

Is it time to stop praying?

by at 1:06 pm.

Today’s Lowell City Council meeting will be preceded by the Rules Sub-Committee meeting (5:30, televised on LTC, Channel 10). There is only one item on the agenda, the “Prayer Issue.”

A coalition of members of different religions, the Greater Lowell Interfaith Leadership Alliance, requested that the City Council review its tradition of reciting the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of their meetings. Today Lowell is truly a city of extensive religious diversity; unfortunately this prayer does not reflect that wealth.

All indications are that the matter might be voted on tonight by the full Council. I do not know if it is in their official rules or it was a tradition that began over 4 decades ago.

By the way, this “tradition” of reciting this particular Christian prayer is not followed at the Council’s Sub-Committee meetings. Also, none of the City’s regulatory boards recite the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of their deliberations.

Last August when the topic was first raised, Lynne had a lengthy post, Separation of Church and State but not in Lowell, which stirred a good deal of debate on LiL. Everyone, even our commentators who are deeply religous agreed that the Lord’s Prayer should not be recited out loud, in unison by our City Council. I do not think these sentiments have changed.

There are many options being floated around, so we may end up with 9 different proposals tonight. The City solicitor is to render an opinion today on the matter so her judgment may impact the decision. Hopefully it will make it easy for the majority to change this tradition by opting for a moment of silence instead.

17 Responses to “Is it time to stop praying?”

  1. K-R-S Says:

    Amen! It’s about time this issue was put to bed.
    I support having a moment of reflection and moving on with official/governmental proceedings.
    As I recall, there were many comments relative to Lynne’s post on this issue, that should have made the list for years top ten comments!

  2. Ryan Says:

    lol that’s so silly. That shouldn’t even be an issue. If I were on the city council, I would refuse to partake in such an activity. It would, quite simply, offend me.

  3. Lynne Says:

    Thanks for bringing back that comment thread, Mimi, it was worth skimming again (sorry, Tim and Mr. Lynne, I glazed over your philosophical arguments due to a restriction on time, LOL).

    I’ve already said pretty much everything I wanted to say on this issue in said previous post and comments. It’s time to retire the mingling of a specific religion’s creed, both for that religion’s sake, and for government’s sake. Let’s get back to the business of governing.

    Why a moment of silence? It seems to me to be a bit of a waste (why not just start the meeting a little earlier!?). But as a compromise I could accept it. Even though it’s majorly boooring!

  4. K-R-S Says:

    I had offered up the moment of silence as an opportunity for those who want to pray may do so and also provides an opportunity for silent, quick refelction before going onto to the business of governing..just a nice compromise, I suppose.

  5. Josh Says:

    Quick note to Lynne: The 14th amendment only applies the Bill of Rights to the states. It does not mention municipalities at all. Also, it only prevents the enaction of laws establishing religion. The council’s recitation of the Lord’s prayer seems only to be a tradition not compelled by law. So I don’t think that prayer is actually illegal.

    That being said, I would replace the prayer with a moment of silence.

  6. Mimi Says:

    By unanimous vote, the Sub-Committee recommends to the full City Council to implement a non-sectarian prayer, LILA (Lowell Interfaith Leadership Alliance) and City solicotor to assist in drafting prayer.

    Kudos to City Solicitor Christine O’Connor for the thorough research and thorough explanation on her ruling. The issue remains what the City Council will do until this non-sectarian prayer is drafted and accepted.

  7. Mike Says:

    A lawyer drafting a prayer. This should be interesting. Our Father, herein named “FATHER”, included but not limited to……..

  8. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    “City solicotor to assist in drafting prayer”

    An “official” prayer of the Lowell City Council, paid for by taxpayer money? That hole is getting deeper and deeper!

  9. K-R-S Says:

    It gets better and better…

  10. Shawn Says:

    The Taxpayers Creed

    I believe in all tax-cuts
    the small and the mighty,
    creating a heaven on earth.

    I believe in Barbara and Chip,
    only descendents of Jerry.
    Concieved by the likes of Dukakis,
    born of the anger and frustration of the common people,
    suffered under totalitarian state legislatures..

    They were crucified, nearly died and buried..

    But in the Patrick era they rose again,
    (in fulfillment of our petitions)

    We will come again in glory,
    to free the encumbered and the oppressed
    and our economy will have no end.

    We believe in the individual spirit,
    the worker in the fields,
    the office manager,
    the business owner,
    the day laborer,

    the resurrection of the people
    and the ability of each to rise to his own heights
    through work, risk and heavenly guidance.

    amen.

  11. Atilla the Nun Says:

    With people like this on the CC, I think it’s time we START praying.

  12. Tim Little Says:

    I also commend City Solicitor O’Connor for her astute analysis of the situation.

    I continue to believe that a moment of silence would probably be the best compromise position, and think that the GLILA was well off-base with its proposal of a “rotating” prayer system. I’m not sure what they’re going to end up cobbling together, but I’d suggest they take their cues from the UUs, who as a denomination seem to be pretty adept at respecting and accomodating a wide range of spiritual beliefs within their own Big Tent.

  13. Tim Little Says:

    Oh, and one other thing from the Sun article:

    “When a formal rules amendment has been constructed, it will be brought back to the full council for a vote that is expected to be unanimous as well.

    “Until that time, councilors will continue saying the Lord’s Prayer to start each meeting.”

    What’s up with that? One would think that the City Solicitor’s opinion would be a sufficient “injunction” against continuing the practice, no? I can certainly understand the frustration of Ron Madnick and the folks at AU.

  14. The City That Prays Together « Lucy the Blog Says:

    […] , the City Council will continue to say the Lord’s Prayer. Additional Coverage Here: “Is It Time To Stop Praying?” Elsewhere In the Noose:  A pig was […]

  15. waittilnextyr Says:

    And, on the federal front:

    PHILADELPHIA (March 7) - An unknown number of new George Washington dollar coins were mistakenly struck without their edge inscriptions, including “In God We Trust,” and made it past inspectors and into circulation, the U.S. Mint said Wednesday.

  16. Tim Little Says:

    Waittil:

    Hmm…. Somebody trying to say something? They do say the Lord works in mysterious ways….

    (Of course “E Pluribis Unum” was also omitted, so I don’t know what THAT is supposed to be telling us.)

  17. Laura Says:

    Why do meeting have to start with a prayer? If they must start with something other than the mayor calling the meeting to order, why not begin with a brief reflection on public service, helping others, and other noble topics. There are plenty of books out there with excerpts from speeches, philosophical books, essays, etc.

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