Council won’t censor invocations

The Grand Junction City Council will let anyone who is interested give invocations at the beginning of meetings but will not instruct people on what they can or can’t say.

That’s what council members are telling city staff in light of the latest scrutiny of how Grand Junction elected officials take time to pray, reflect or otherwise observe a moment of silence.

The council in August decided to broaden the range of spiritual leaders who could give the invocation, and forbid prayers that endorse a particular religion.

But Anne Landman, a member of Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers, told the council Monday night that although she appreciated its efforts to craft a fair invocation policy, she believed it still had its deficiencies.

She said the policy excludes most everyone but heads of church congregations and spiritual groups from speaking. She also claimed that most invocators weren’t heeding advice that they not advocate a particular religion.

“Yet invocators who have come before you, the majority are still invoking the name of a particular deity,” Landman said.

Council members said they never intended to exclude anyone from the chance to give the invocation and that the city will re-advertise the opportunity next week. But they said they will not try to limit what someone says.

“One thing that makes me very uncomfortable is to get away from custom,” Councilman Gregg Palmer said. “I don’t want to get into a situation where we start dictating to them that you may pray this particular way or do this particular thing but not this particular thing.”

Many council members said it was too early to make major changes to the policy, noting it’s been in place less than a year.


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