Surveys show 25 percent of residents adhere to non-Christian faiths, including paganism, or no religion.
"So the demands that prayers be purged of any sort of Christian content, or the argument that the government has an obligation to open up meetings to allow anyone and everyone the opportunity to take over the microphone, is simply not true. The Constitution nowhere requires that in any context," Harvey said.
John Buhler, the director of Mission Huntsville, a collaboration of local evangelical churches, told Aleteia that whether people feel included or not can be a consideration when choosing who will give the invocation. However, he argued that the issue is not a constitutional matter.
"If the Council believes it would be best to invite the wisdom, help and blessing of God, it has the right to include an invocation to whomever or whatever the Council believes can provide such," Buhler said in an e-mail message to Aleteia. He added that the Constitution does not require government bodies to seek out all possible religious perspectives for invocations.
"So for me the bigger issue here, and across the land, is whether what has led to this is really the Council’s choice, or if they have been forced to do this by some who say this is what’s required to be constitutional, which is absolutely not the case," Buhler said. "Then, of course, the City Council is responsible for its choice excercised."
Brian Fraga is a daily newspaper reporter who writes from Fall River, Massachusetts.
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