City Council in Iowa in Talks to Bring Prayer Back to Meetings

A religious organization in Iowa is hoping to bring prayer back to city council meetings after the practice was dropped earlier this year.

Unlike other controversies, however, the prayers were not suspended due to opposition from anti-religious organizations or protest over First Amendment violations, but simply due to a lack of scheduling.

Dubuque City Mayor Roy Buol told a local news station that it became difficult planning what church leaders would recite the prayer for their meetings, resulting in a "moment of silence" rather than a voiced prayer.

"There were actually a few times where I had to do the invocation because the scheduled invocator didn't show up," Buol recalled.

Though he was aware of no controversy and opposition to the opening prayers, it was a matter of organization, which the mayor did not have the time to do.

Seeking to bring back the prayers to the meetings, the Dubuque Area Congregations United, a group of religious leaders of all faiths, volunteered to plan the prayers instead.

Tom Stovall, one member of the group, told KCRG, "It would be very simple for us to take on that responsibility and line up people to do the invocation.

He said that the speakers would be diverse and would include religious leaders from all faiths, from Protestants and Catholics to Jews and Muslims as well.

As to the discussion of whether the prayers would be violating the separation of church and state, Stovall commented, "I think by and large the people at the meeting did not think that's a problem."

"It's not like we are becoming involved with issues that are before the council. It's just starting a meeting with a prayer."

Stovall did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mayor Buol is set to decide whether he will enlist the help of the religious group or not. When asked for updates on the issue, Buol did not provide an answer.

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