Phoenix council re-considers prayer before meetings

The Phoenix City Council has voted to pass a controversial ordinance reinstating prayer at council meetings.
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The Phoenix City Council has voted to pass a controversial ordinance reinstating prayer at council meetings.
 
The vote enacts a new ordinance allowing police and fire clergy to lead the city council prayer, and it's already sparking talk of legal action.
 
With a 6-2 vote, the council voted to bring back prayer before the meetings. In February, the council replaced spoken prayer with a moment of silent prayer. That move blocked a group of Satanists from being able to deliver an invocation. It also meant no one could say an opening prayer at the meetings. 
 
"You've got individuals that are trying to ban everything and make sure that it's all politically correct... and so from my end of it, it's ok to pray before a meeting, I think it's a good thing for the City of Phoenix," said Sal DiCiccio.
 
"At present that includes only five individuals representing only the Christian and Jewish faiths, so it's a very narrow scope of beliefs that will be represented," said Jeremy Helfgot with the Phoenix Commission on Human Relations.
 
Mayor Greg Stanton and Council-member Kate Gallego voted against the ordinance. 
 
"Now puts our police chief and fire chief in a very difficult position of then choosing which religions are represented in the chaplaincy or not," said Kate Gallego.
 
A group of Satanists requested to lead the invocation and sparked a fiery debate in the council about how to legally keep the group from leading the prayer. Supporters of the new ordinance believe it is within the law.
 
"This is constitutionally correct, we made sure it was legal, we made sure it was constitutional," said DiCiccio.
 
"I have grave concerns that there is going to be a legal action in response to this, that it is going to cost the city dearly," said Helfgot.
 
The Satanic Temple of Arizona, which is based in Tucson, says they are looking into their legal options.


 


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