Rapid City Council continues to fight for prayer - KOTA Territory News

Rapid City Council continues to fight for prayer, despite renewed warning


Following the remarks of a few Rapid City council members and the Mayor himself, a non-profit group threatens legal action against the city once again.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has asked the council to end its practice of beginning meetings with an invocation, calling it a civil rights issue and threatening legal action.

Since that first warning earlier this month, City Council members, including Mayor Sam Kooiker overwhelmingly expressed their support for the prayer to continue.

Those comments, however, prompted the non profit to send another warning.

"It is shameful that some City Council members used heated rhetoric in asserting they want to "fight" and that FFRF is a "bully" in simply asking for the council to comply with the constitution," said Patrick Elliot, Staff Attorney for FFRF in a letter to the council dated February 15th.

Alderman Jerry Wright says he hopes a compromise can be reached.
"I think in one of two forms. One of course could be a silent prayer at the beginning, and the second one could be a non denominational ecumenical prayer, and my position being the constitution says freedom of, but also freedom from," said Wright.

"Federal courts have affirmed that government bodies may not host prayers that
affiliate the government with one religion. The City Council has regularly offered sectarian Christian prayers. This includes prayers that have asserted, "You are the one true god,
so we pray this in your name." These prayers are exclusionary and offensive to some residents," said Elliot in an email statement to KOTA Territory News. 

City Attorney Joel Landeen is in the process of drafting an invocation policy that would give the council a legal basis to continue the prayer.

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