Prayers at public meetings are “inclusive,” county says

El Paso County responds to Freedom From Information Foundation complaint
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The Board of County Commissioners, from left, Stan VanderWerf, Carrie Geitner, Holly Williams, Cami Bremer, Longinos Gonzalez Jr. (Photo courtesy EPCO)

El Paso County’s County Attorney Kenny Hodges issued a response on March 3 to a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation that county commissioner meetings feature prayers that favor Christianity.

“Recognizing that religions and spirituality come in various forms, the Board has received invocations from Christian and Jewish faiths, the Satanic Temple, and the Humanists Society prior to their Board meetings,” Hodges wrote. “By carrying on this tradition, the Board is not endorsing any particular faith or even religion at all. Instead, it offers opportunity for inclusivity of all those who wish to participate.”

The citizen who complained, Rob Rogers, says this via email: “I’m not surprised at the response. It completely ignores the fact that the giver of the invocation used it as an opportunity to promote his book and that the prayer was overtly political in nature. The letter cites Greece v Galloway as justification, but ignores the actual words cited. ‘Prayer that is solemn and respectful in tone, that invites lawmakers to reflect upon shared ideals and common ends before they embark on the fractious business of governing, serves that legitimate function.’ How is, ‘Give these men and woman the bold confidence and unity to stand up against the onslaught of media bias and ideologies contrary to our Constitution and the founding values that have made El Paso County one of the greatest counties in America,’ solemn, respectful or an invitation to reflect on shared ideals?”

Meantime, here’s the county’s letter.


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