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Midland Park

Poll: Should Public Council Meetings Start With Prayer?

11/18/2013 07:18PM ● By Rebecca K. Abma

Midland Park Borough Hall

The Midland Park Borough Council routinely begins council meetings with an invocation. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently deliberating on a case that could change that.

The case Town of Greece (NY) v. Galloway questions whether prayers or invocations at a public meeting violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

According to the SCOTUS blog, the suit was filed in 2007 by Greece residents Susan Galloway, who is Jewish, and Linda Stephens, who is an atheist. They said that the repeated use of Christian prayers made them uncomfortable.

A lower court held that the town’s prayer practice violated the Constitution because, taken as a whole, it suggested that the government was endorsing Christianity. That court emphasized that most of the prayers were “uniquely Christian” – referring, for example, to “Jesus,” “Your Son,” or “the Holy Spirit.”

The arguments were heard earlier this month and a decision is expected to be made before the court session ends in June.

How Midland Park and other North Jersey communities will be impacted remain to be seen and was the focus of an article in the Sunday Record this weekend.

“Our country was based on this,” said Councilman Scott Pruiksma told the Record.  “I think it’s really important that people are able to express what they want to express without fear of repercussion.”

According to the article, Pruiksma said he constructs the prayers he recites to be as general as possible. He said he asks God for wisdom for the meetings and for protection for the community, and gives thanks for the military. "I pray before I eat dinner,” he said. “I think it’s important to thank God for what he’s given to us. Not many people are thankful, and I think it’s important to model thankfulness.”

What do you think? Does the borough council's invocations bother you or do you cherish the tradition? Vote in our poll and leave your comments, below.

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