Here’s how Mayor Larry Hansen began last week’s city council meeting.
Mayor Larry Hansen: “All right would you please stand for an invocation from Pastor Phil Orosco.”
Pastor: “Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus…”
That violates the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the separation of church and state.
“The law is quite clear – government prayer, if you’re going to have it, should not invoke Jesus or Allah or be in any way exclusionary.”
Annie-Laurie Gaylor is co-president of the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation. She says they contacted the city after a Lodi resident made a complaint.
Mayor Hansen says he has a strong belief in God and the prayers give him inner strength…but…
“We would not be in a strong position if we continue to go forward and could be taken to court and I’m not willing to take that risk.”
Hansen says he’ll talk with city council members at next week’s meeting about possibly switching from prayers to moments of silence.