Prayer is up for debate for residents of one city in Washington state.
Residents of the Kennewick community attended a recent city council meeting, where members heard debate over whether legislative sessions should be opened with prayer, according to KVEW-TV.
Ira Johnson, a Kennewick resident, has not attended many meetings over the years but felt compelled to speak in front of the council members once he learned legislative prayer was on the agenda. He told the local news outlet he supports the measure.
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“We need prayer,” he said. “We need all the help the city council can get — and it’s for them. It’s not for us; it’s for the city council.”
While the city has, once again, delayed its vote on the issue, Johnson said it’s important prayer be added to the beginning of each session. If approved, the rule would allow members from any established place of worship to perform the prayer.
Johnson, for his part, said he’s open to differing beliefs — so long as it’s a prayer to God.
“You’re praying to a deity, God,” he said. “You’re not praying to Mohammed or anybody else. You’re praying to God. … If they believe in God, they can come. That’s what I’d say about that. They gotta believe in God.”
There are some community members, though, who oppose the idea of opening with prayer.
Kendall Millbauer, who calls herself a “woman of faith,” said praying at meetings would be nothing more than a distraction from more important things the council members ought to focus on.
She said requiring those who pray to believe in God is “not what America stands for” because it’s “not part of inclusion,” noting, “We should be respectful of all faiths.”
Millbauer added she only speaks about her personal beliefs when she’s asked.
“I don’t think it has a place in being delivered to city councilmen and women when they have so many more pressing things to do,” she continued, referring to her opposition to legislative prayer.
The council ultimately delayed the vote on the matter due to a council member’s absence at a previous discussion on the subject.
“How many more times you gonna postpone it?” asked Johnson. “How many times have they postponed, just deciding on what to do about ethics, you know? I know they’ve talked that thing to death.”
As it stands now, the council is slated to vote on legislative prayer at its Aug. 16 meeting.
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