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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Editorial: When it comes to prayer at meetings, there’s a nice middle ground here

  • A 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that basically says it’s OK for legislative bodies at any level to take a moment to pray before convening their various sessions has, in Minnesota, some mayors and other leaders of city councils and school boards who have been gun-shy about such practices considering bringing prayer back to the start of their meetings.
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  •     A 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that basically says it’s OK for legislative bodies at any level to take a moment to pray before convening their various sessions has, in Minnesota, some mayors and other leaders of city councils and school boards who have been gun-shy about such practices considering bringing prayer back to the start of their meetings.   
        Thankfully, it would seem as though nothing would have to, or should have to change in Crookston, where there is no prayer before any meetings of the city council, school board or county commission.   
        In some previous mayoral administrations in Crookston, everyone was asked, but not ordered, after the gavel sounded to start a council meeting to stand “for a moment of silent prayer.” Under Mayor Dave Genereux, that has become a request to stand “for a moment of silence.”   
        At school board meetings, a “moment of silence” that started meetings led by previous board chairs has, under current Board Chair Frank Fee, been scrapped in favor of a polite invitation for those in attendance to stand up and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. That practice is similar to what the Polk County Commissioners do at their board meetings.   
        It certainly sounds middle-of-the-road enough, does it not? It’s certainly not enough to stoke the fires of the constantly simmering and sometimes raging debate surrounding that little concept called the separation of church and state.   
        The concern, of course, is that if a bunch of Christians are openly praying to their God to start these meetings, it might make those in the room who believe in another god or no god at all feel uncomfortable, unwelcome or even intimidated, especially if they are at the meeting to address the group on some matter.   
        Of course, no one has to do anything. One might ask why the local city council, school board or county commission feel they need a moment of silence to ponder anything before they start a meeting, or to stand up and recite words before the U.S. Flag that everyone’s known since they were children. Why not just start the meeting and get on with the business on the agenda?   
        It’s a legitimate question, but the current climate is what it is, and in Crookston, considering the scene that plays out prior to each meeting of these three governing bodies, it seems to be fair to partly cloudy. Let others get all emboldened by the high court ruling. Here, the status quo is just fine.

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