Springer introduces optional invocation
“The founding of our country was built on prayer and the Bible,” Springer said. “We’re not doing so well as we’ve drifted away from that. It’s time to re-engage with our roots.”
Springer cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision as providing the legal foundation. In a 5-4 decision issued May 5 in Town of Greece v. Galloway, the court ruled that opening public meetings with an invocation was permissible.
“Legislative prayer, while religious in nature, has long been understood as compatible with the establishment clause,” the court ruled in an opinion authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy. “It is presumed that the reasonable observer is acquainted with this tradition and understands that its purposes are to lend gravity to public proceedings and to acknowledge the place religion holds in the lives of many private citizens, not to afford government an opportunity to proselytize or force truant constituents into the pews,” Kennedy said.
Five justices concluded that because the prayers offered in the Greece case were not coercive in nature, and included all the religious traditions evident in the community, the practice did not violate constitutional provisions on the separation of church and state. Their four colleagues dissented.
During last week’s county commissioner meeting, Springer invited those who wanted to participate to stand. He said anyone who did not wish to participate could remain seated.
Springer said he was reaching out to local pastors to provide invocations, starting with the pastor at his own church, Northwest Harvest.
“I’m going to continue to reach out to them and see who’s available,” he said. “Everyone has been willing to cooperate to this point.”
While both of the pastors featured so far have been Christian, Springer said he would be willing to host leaders of other faiths, should any express interest.
No one has raised concerns so far, let alone objections, he said. However, visitors to the News-Register website have engaged in a spirited back-and-forth on the issue in recent days.