In central Kentucky, the head of Boyle County government say this week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling could have some impact on how prayers are said at the start of fiscal court meetings.
An area resident last year threatened to sue the county if officials didn’t stop the practice. Following the controversy, county magistrates switched to a moment of silence, but now the fiscal court offers non-sectarian prayers.
“I hesitate to call it a generic prayer, but it’s a prayer that doesn’t necessarily invoke the Christian religion," says Boyle County Judge-Executive Harold McKinney. "We do not say ‘These things we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.’ We do invoke a higher power.”
McKinney says mentioning God is allowed, but it’s up to the individual doing the invocation. He does think the Supreme Court decision gives prayer-givers more latitude.
“I think probably what we’ll do is allow everyone to do as their conscience dictates. We do represent people who are not of the Christian faith, so it seems to me that we have some duty to not offend them, and at the same time we have to recognize that the Christian faith is part of our society," McKinney adds. "I don’t think we will take a formal stand, but each person will be allowed to pray in their own way.”
U.S. Supreme Court justices on Monday rejected an argument that prayers at public meetings violate the constitutional separation of church and state.
The ruling said town officials in Greece, New York didn’t violate the law by choosing prayer-givers who have been overwhelmingly Christian.