Jan 18, 2011 8:17 PM by Stephanie Collins
El Paso County Commissioners are now saying a prayer before the start of every meeting. It's something new Commissioner Peggy Littleton called for, and other commissioners agreed to, "Deep in the heart of this nation's history and in this nation's future lays a belief that we cannot be a free nation without the blessings of the almighty," says Littleton.
Groff Schroeder, Vice President of the Colorado Springs Freethinkers, disagrees. He says he has no problem with elected officials having religious beliefs, but does have a problem with them praying in front of him, "You can't escape it, if you're going to participate in government and you don't share religious beliefs of people you elected, then you have to sit through those religious beliefs," he says.
Littleton contends that even though commissioners are praying, you aren't required to be a part of it, "I just want to recognize that is your constitutional right to choose to not participate as well, and I respect that," she explains.
Littleton believes religion is a part of our government's history. She says she pledged with her hand on the bible and doesn't understand why it would surprise or offend anyone if commissioners begin their meetings asking for direction from a higher power.
Schroeder says they can begin meetings that way, but asks that they do it in private before the meeting. For now though, invocation will happen before every meeting, in front of anyone in attendance.
A US Supreme Court decision from the 80's makes it o-k for legislative bodies to pray without violating the constitution. Colorado Springs City Council and the state Legislature also pray before meetings, Pueblo County Commissioners do not.