Chesterfield County Supervisors will begin their meetings with prayers once again. But with a change. Instead of inviting guest ministers to pray, they will do it themselves. The county’s previous policy required ministers who delivered the opening invocations be ordained religious leaders of monotheiestic religions that follow Judeo-Christian traditions, but they were instructed to keep the prayers generic.
The ACLU said that wasn’t good enough and also unconstitutional. They demanded in a letter that people of all faiths be allowed to participate.
The new policy will rotate the prayers among board members and they can opt for a moment of silence instead. It goes into effect in January, because ministers are already booked through the end of the year.
The county attorney described it as a “trial policy for 2015.” It was passed unanimously and without comment. The old policy was drawn up in 2002, after a Wiccan priestess sued the county when she was denied the right to the opening invocation. Recent Supreme Court rulings would have made it difficult to defend.