In February, Rapid City, South Dakota sought the advice of its attorney regarding its invocation practice, following a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The attorney offered a set of options that included some sound advice: craft a non-sectarian, inclusive policy, and consider moving the prayer so that it occurs before the meeting, rather than as an official part of the meeting. So how did the Council respond?
“We’re not going to have a policy,” said Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Wright, who made the first motion to deny creating a policy. “We are simply going to follow tradition.”
While voting to accept the last of six options presented by City Attorney Joel Landeen, the council also decided to explore offers made by other groups to help with its legal defense if it is sued by Freedom from Religion. The council will revisit that issue in June.
According to Landeen, the city has received offers from several organizations, including the Liberty Council, which has offered pro bono legal representation. Alliance Defending Freedom, the Liberty Institute and the American Center for Law and Justice have also contacted the city, he said.
A lawsuit seems inevitable at this point. Stay tuned.