The Engage Family Blog

Official Blog of The Family Policy Council of West Virginia

To Pray or Not to Pray

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A story arising out of Charles Town, WV last week is worth keeping a close eye on.  As reported in The Journal, the Charles Town City Council decided to replace the “decades-long tradition of reciting the Lord’s prayer” with a moment of silence to begin their meetings from now on.

The decision was made, the story notes, after the City Council’s attorney [incorrectly/incompletely] informed them of potential legal liability if the tradition continued.  Reports Edward Marshall of The Journal:

Councilwoman Ann Paonessa, one of the council members who voted for the moment of silent prayer, said it seemed to her that the practice of reciting the Lord’s prayer presented some real legal problems and exposed the city to liability.

. . .

Councilwoman Schmitt, another council member who voted to institute the silent prayer, said her decision was based on legal advice from the city’s attorney.

“Basically we’re at risk of legal action, being sued, if we continue using the Lord’s prayer based on court cases that were cited,” Schmitt said.

So, how did this all get started?

The issue arose after Brown acknowledged last month that there were legal issues regarding the recitation of the prayer after resident Rich Schaffer wrote to Mayor Peggy Smith to tell her he felt offended by the use of the spoken prayer. Schaffer , who is Jewish, previously told The Journal he never had any intention of suing the city. He said he has been attending council meetings because of his concerns about the proposed demolition of a house in the town’s historic district by a local Baptist church.

If you, or someone you know, is familiar with the situation in Charles Town – either the intimidation to remove prayer, or the issue of the Baptist church’s land use rights – the Family Policy Council of West Virginia would like to know more about the situation.  Either leave a comment below or send us a message through our website,


Written by Jeremy Dys

May 12, 2008 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Religious Freedom

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