East Texans weigh in on Supreme Court's ruling on prayer in meet - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

East Texans weigh in on Supreme Court's ruling on prayer in meetings

Tyler city council members themselves lead the prayer before meetings, unless they invite someone to give the prayer. (Source: KLTV Staff) Tyler city council members themselves lead the prayer before meetings, unless they invite someone to give the prayer. (Source: KLTV Staff)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

It’s a victory for any city that opens its meetings with a prayer. Today, in a 5 to 4 ruling, the Supreme Court decided that those prayers are constitutional, even if the prayers routinely emphasize Christianity. This is only as long as there is no effort to proselytize or denigrate non-Christians. The Court’s ruling did not give guidance about how communities should offer these prayers without violating the Constitution.

“All they did was validate that it is constitutionally acceptable to have prayers at government functions and public spaces,” says Rabbi Neal Katz.

He says public prayer is an important part of who we are, but he also says we need to be careful.

"These prayers become overwhelmingly Christian… there are those Jews who are very offended by Christian-only prayers because they feel left out, then there are those who could care less and they just kind of recognize it as a level of exclusiveness on the part of the invocator," added Katz.

Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass agrees.

"I think that we need to have respect for each other's beliefs and different ways that we choose to worship," Bass said.

Bass says she wants to make sure the prayers respect everyone’s beliefs. “

Tyler is a very strong faith-based community,” she added.

Katz says there is an art to public prayer and that the prayer should make everyone feel comfortable and included, no matter who is doing the praying.

“I've heard some far right-wing Baptist preachers offer some of the most beautiful inclusive community ecumenical prayers and I've also heard people who don't know any better offer a Christian prayer that alienates anyone in the room who isn't Christian,” he says.

In the end, both Bass and Katz say prayer is a vital part of life for many East Texans. Bass says up to this point, the city council members themselves lead the prayer before meetings, unless they invite someone to give the prayer. The mayor says they have not gone so far as to ask people to apply to give the prayer and she says she does not know if they would change that.

Copyright 2014 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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