Federal Judge Upholds Prayer in California City Meetings

By:  Dave Bohon
07/18/2011
       
Federal Judge Upholds Prayer in California City Meetings

A federal judge ruled July 11 that a community in Los Angeles County can include prayer in its city government meetings. U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer issued a decision in favor of the City of Lancaster, which in 2009 had approved a policy allowing prayers of all faiths to be included in the openings of the city meetings. The policy was later approved by voters in a community referendum. Fischer’s ruling came in response to a law suit filed by the widow Irv Rubin, the late controversial chairman of the Jewish Defense League, and a Lancaster resident who protested that the policy violated the Constitution’s supposed separation of church and state.

The duo was assisted in the case by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which in 2009 “sent a letter to city officials stating that the group had received ‘a number of complaints’ about Lancaster’s practice of opening meetings with invocations given in ‘the name of Jesus’ or containing other explicitly sectarian religious references,” reported the Los Angeles Times. “The civil liberties group deemed the policy divisive and unconstitutional, and threatened legal action if Lancaster didn’t quit the practice.”

A federal judge ruled July 11 that a community in Los Angeles County can include prayer in its city government meetings. U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer issued a decision in favor of the City of Lancaster, which in 2009 had approved a policy allowing prayers of all faiths to be included in the openings of the city meetings. The policy was later approved by voters in a community referendum. Fischer’s ruling came in response to a law suit filed by the widow Irv Rubin, the late controversial chairman of the Jewish Defense League, and a Lancaster resident who protested that the policy violated the Constitution’s supposed separation of church and state.

The duo was assisted in the case by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which in 2009 “sent a letter to city officials stating that the group had received ‘a number of complaints’ about Lancaster’s practice of opening meetings with invocations given in ‘the name of Jesus’ or containing other explicitly sectarian religious references,” reported the Los Angeles Times. “The civil liberties group deemed the policy divisive and unconstitutional, and threatened legal action if Lancaster didn’t quit the practice.”

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Lancaster Mayor Rex Parris (photo)

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