Local News

May 7, 2014 12:47 AM by John Reger

Central Coast cities respond to Supreme Court ruling on prayer

Central Coast cities are reacting tonight to Monday's Supreme Court ruling allowing prayer before town council meetings. The Court said the prayers don't violate the separation of church and state if they are ceremonial and don't try to spread a religious faith.

Last month the Pismo Beach City Council voted to stop prayer before its meetings after it was sued to stop by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Pismo Mayor Shelly Higginbotham says the Supreme Court ruling will not change the decision to stop pre-meeting prayers. Many in Santa Maria are applauding the court's decision.

"Prayer at meetings isn't harmful," said Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino. "We're not trying to proselytize anyone so I think it's a good thing. I think it puts everyone in a great state of mind."

Bethel Lutheran Church Pastor Carl Nielsen said, "What it is, is to seek guidance for the leaders of our community as they make decisions about our community."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation says it plans to file more anti-prayer lawsuits against cities in California, including on the Central Coast. No target cities have been named yet.

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