Apr 16, 2014 8:43 PM by Kathy Kuretich
It's been a part of city meetings in Pismo Beach for years, but prayer will no longer be part of the agenda. The City of Pismo Beach voted last night to stop prayers at city council meetings and eliminate the chaplain position. It was part of an settlement agreement reached with the Freedom From Religion Foundation. According to city manager James Lewis, the city will pay $1 each to the plaintiffs, and $47,500 to their attorneys. The council reached this decision Tuesday night, in a closed session. The Freedom From Religion Foundation and Dr. Sari Dworkin, a local member of the Atheists United San Luis Obispo sued the city in November, 2013. They claimed the prayers violated the California Constitution. The plaintiffs alleged between January 1, 2008 and October 15, 2013, all but one of the 126 prayers were addressed to a Christian God, with Pismo Beach City Chaplain Rev. Paul Jones delivering 112 of the prayers. Last november the City told KSBY the invocations had been non-sectarian. Wednesday, it still denied the allegations in the lawsuit. But, City Manager Lewis said it would not be "a prudent use of public moneys to contest the suit through trial." The council voted 3-0 on this agreement. Two members, Mary Ann Reiss and Kris Vardas, were absent. There was no opening prayer at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
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