New prayer guidelines for Bishop City Council

bcc3_11The issue of a prayer before the Bishop City Council came up again Monday night. Based on a new court decision, the City Attorney Peter Tracy offered a new set of invocation guidelines. The Council did approve them.

Earlier the Council had adopted prayer guidelines that discouraged the mention of any particular deity. The policy had come about after a Hindu man from out of the area had requested to deliver the invocation in Bishop. His request triggered legal concerns. A number of Bishop pastors objected to the policy which they felt prohibited them from referring to “Jesus Christ.”

Since the original policy, a major court decision filed in Lancaster, CA was issued by the Court. That decision allowed greater freedom for pastors prayers. The new guidelines describe a process of allowing local religious leaders to take turns delivering prayers. The policy also says that neither the City Council nor City Clerk “shall engage in any prior inquiry, review of, or involvement in, the content of any prayer to be offered by an invocational speaker.

The policy also says it is not intended to affiliate the City Council with any faith or religious denomination but will encourage respect for the diversity of religious groups and faiths in Bishop.

Councilman Keith Glidewell, who has suggested that perhaps there should not be a prayer before the meeting, asked that the issue come back to a future agenda for discussion.


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24 Responses to New prayer guidelines for Bishop City Council

  1. Frank April 24, 2013 at 5:43 am #

    Another perfectly fair and balanced way to assure that no single religion gets preferential treatment is. . . no religion in government at all. Zero. Nada. If you must pray, do it on your own time, not the taxpayers’ time.

    • Joe April 24, 2013 at 9:57 am #

      Amen, Frank! Well said.

  2. Desert Tortoise April 24, 2013 at 7:41 am #

    I don’t understand this burning urge to pray in public and to have everyone else pray with you. There are some truly insecure people in this world. I don’t see municipal government having any obligation to cater to these insecurities.

  3. justwanttoseehisface April 24, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    @ Frank –

    Very well said. I think that one should (generally) only pee in the bathroom, make love in the bedroom, and pray – out loud anyway – in church. It’s really pretty simple. Thanks.

  4. John P. Gross April 24, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    I understand and strongly agree with all that is said about separation of Church and State, But if it is going to be totally separate than keep the government out of my church provided insurance program which doesn’t pay for abortions which we believe is wrong in the eyes of God.


    • Desert Tortoise April 24, 2013 at 11:00 am #

      If your church didn’t operate a for profit business such as a school or hospital there would be nothing the government could say. However, some religions engage in commercial enterprises but expect to be treated, or their employees treated differently, than other commercial enterprises in the same industries.

      The simple solution is for churches to stay out of the business world and they won’t be subject to government regulations other businesses are responsible to adhere to.

      • Mark April 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

        Chuches (selling God) is a big business. Non profit? more like all profit.

    • familygal April 24, 2013 at 11:17 am #

      Well said John P. – enough with people trying to have it both ways when it comes to all things government…..”my way is the right way (liberal) b/c I don’t agree with you (conservative)”. Where is the world did that mindset come from anyway!?

      It’s a free country….if taxpaying religious people want to pray out loud at government meetings let them….it’s their dime and time as much has those that don’t like prayer at public meetings. Freedom of speech and all that…

      The last time I checked, the religious people are part of the “public,” “taxpaying” masses too.

      The country is made up of all kinds of people….please just embrace that reality and stop trying to make it all liberal and left – b/c it will never be that way. 🙂 and I for one like the diversity we have here in the USA!

      • justwanttoseehisface April 25, 2013 at 10:28 am #

        @ Family gal –

        I respect your passionate advocacy.

        But I don’t think you can disagree that a public meeting is for the purpose of conducting the public’s business.

        If that’s the case, why are your (or anyone’s) personal religious views and practices a matter of public concern?


    • Frank April 25, 2013 at 7:44 am #

      It’s a deal. No praying or mention of religion at government meetings, and your church does not have to provide abortions.

  5. Eastern Sierra Local April 24, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    It seems to me that the easiest answer to this is to not have ANY prayer prior to a taxpayer funded, government sponsored, and held meeting. Problem solved.

    • familygal April 25, 2013 at 10:47 am #

      Taxpayers pray too, people that work in government pray too. You cannot take God out of all people and places….I know that is the current trend…but it will never happen.

      There will always be people praying out loud in public/government places! Just as there will always be people opposed to praying in public/government places.

      Government is made up of people – all kinds of people – and it should represent ALL types of people!

      So, to please all the different kinds of people, have prayer out loud at every other meeting – everyone “wins” with this scenario.

      No one sided government! Our country needs to always remember that the government needs to represent all the different kinds of people that live in our great country! One group should not dominate….it’s about checks and balances, not one-sided rule!

      • Benett Kessler April 25, 2013 at 11:19 am #

        The diversity of our nation is truly great and the freedom to pursue it. At the same time, nothing stops any individual from addressing God, universal mind, the creator of all in his or her heart nor from living the highest principles in daily life. That in itself is a prayer.
        Benett Kessler

        • Public v Private April 25, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

          The case in point is whether or not proselytizing belongs in any public meeting place.
          This can only lead to more division and hard feelings.

      • justwanttoseehisface April 25, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

        @Family gal-

        You didn’t answer my question (not that you have to); so I ask again:

        Of what concern are your personal religious beliefs and practices to the public?


  6. Tim April 25, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    Prayer is an individual choice, not to be forced, denied, initiated or discouraged by government?
    That is what Constitutional freedom of religion means to me.

    United States Constitution
    Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    • Tourbillon April 25, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

      Tim, reread the First Amendment you posted. It does not say government should blind itself to religion. It does not say religion must be expunged from the public square. It simply says Congress shall make no law that establishes a state religion, as is the case with the Church of England. And it says Congress cannot make a law prohibiting the free exercise of a religion. For Tortoise’s edification, it does not qualify this ban with whether a church is making a profit or not. But somehow the simple prohibition in the First Amendment against Congress making certain specific laws has gotten twisted into the idea that any religious activity, symbol, or speech in public should be discouraged, if not eradicated.

      If a town council or other government body does not want to pray, it does not have to. If it wants to, it can – which is why Congress still opens with a prayer. Nothing in American history or law or custom requires adoption of Nietzsche’s saying that “God is dead”. You are free to believe that if you like, but you cannot commandeer the public square because you insist it is true.

      For some reason, being offended by legal public prayer on the part of some has trumped being offended by a lack of any public prayer on the part of others. The Founders never made any authoritarian rule expunging religion from public life. They merely prohibited Congress from making two types of religious laws. We should be as flexible.

      • Benett Kessler April 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

        Thank you, Tourbillon.

      • Different times and physics April 25, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

        The Founders you speak of and the era those Founders were a part of, is vastly different then the way it is today.
        Time simply does not move that way.

        • Ken Warner April 25, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

          This is true. But until the existing constitution is rewritten, that constitution remains literally the law of the land. That constitution gives you the right to criticize it as much and as loudly as you want, but you still are bound by what it says.

          • Tower of Babel April 26, 2013 at 5:30 am #

            Words were designed to confuse people. The more words the more interpretations, the more the disagreement as to the meaning. Words change through history. Take the word liberal. The live-and-let-live original meaning has today morphed into one who espouses socialism by some of our angrier and frightened. We are living in a modern day Tower of Babel times.
            Words in the Constitution are also interchangeable to meet with the current times.
            Nothing stays the same forever. And this has become a problem.

      • justwanttoseehisface April 26, 2013 at 7:59 am #

        @ Tourbillon –

        Assuming there is such a thing as a “legal public prayer” (at term that itself is troubling and, ironically, demonstrates the problem), is it a good idea?

        I think in pluralistic and diverse America, it is not; it is divisive and non-productive.

        I think the Pledge of Allegiance – our “prayer” as Americans – gets the job done.

        And, just because something is constitutional does not make it right or good (e.g., abortion, pornography, protesting at a soldier’s funeral).

        But hey, if CONGRESS opens with a prayer, it must be a good and productive thing, because we know how well those folks have managed our great country – apparently with the assistance of the Almighty!


  7. Tim April 25, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    Don’t we agree with each other?
    Please read my post again focusing on the first sentence, especially the words “forced, denied, initiated or discouraged”.
    Now please read amendment 1 which says;
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
    It does not say “Congress shall make no law that establishes a state religion” as you claim. Is it somewhere else in the document? Obviously the blanket statement “Congress shall make no law” in Amendment 1 would include State religion.
    How do you see this as contrary to my post?
    Help me out, what am I missing here? BK?

  8. Mike Philip June 17, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    There are those who feel very strongly about opening a public meeting with a prayer. In the interest of “picking my fight”, I think I’ll choose not to fight this one. As long as anyone, no matter what religion, is allowed to open the meeting with their prayer, and are treated with respect, I can go along with it.


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