Despite efforts by a Madison-based group to remove a prayer from the beginning, the Brown County Board meetings, members bowed their heads in prayer Wednesday night
“Dear Lord, thank you for bringing us together safely this evening,” they prayed.
Before every monthly Brown County Board meeting, board officials are led in a prayer asking for guidance during the meeting. But the Freedom from Religion Foundation in Madison wants the prayers to stop.
“Government is not supposed to take sides in religion. Government is not supposed to engaged in worship,” Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the foundation, said.
The group is lobbying for the board to get rid of the prayer, arguing that it discriminates against people of different religious beliefs.
“Fifteen percent of Wisconsin citizens are not religious, and then a higher number are not Christian, so we have both people of other faiths and not believers offended and excluded,” Gaylor said.
But board members say the prayer, that typically ends with “in Jesus’s name, Amen,” hasn’t received any complaints from people in Brown County, and they want it to stay.
“It doesn’t offend 85 percent of the population and we’re worried about 15 percent that are offended? You know, in my mind majority rules,” Brown County Board Vice Chair Mary Scray said.
Board Chair Guy Zima said the board won’t be modifying or eliminating the pre-meeting prayer any time soon.
“We’ve had a prayer as long as I’ve been here, and both the city council and the county board, 36 years now. I don’t think we’re going to turn it around tonight just because somebody wants to impose their religion — kind of a non-religion — on everybody else,” Zima said.
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