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baltimoresun.com

Silence, not prayer, before government meetings

12:00 PM EDT, August 19, 2013

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The writer of the letter regarding prayers being said at government meetings ("There are much worse things than official prayer," Aug. 14) just plain got it wrong on one main level. The prayer is not the offending issue here, it's where it's being said.

When I'm invited to a place of worship other than one of my own denomination, I enjoy the services and prayers. When I'm invited to some religious rite of passage, other than one pertaining to my religion, again I enjoy witnessing the clergy conduct rituals and prayers. And if I'm in a friend's home and they say prayers before a meal, and they are not prayers that I am accustomed to, I enjoy the customs and traditions displayed by the family and how their prayers are part of this.

But a government meeting is none of the above. A government meeting, by definition, is a meeting where the citizens are being represented and as such their representatives should not feel they are being excluded in any manner or matter. A prayer that relates to a specific religion will inherently do so. It's not a matter of "offending" someone but more a matter of excluding someone.

A moment of silence and reflection before any government meeting where business of the public is about to be decided might be more appropriate. That should be a time whereby the public servants involved think long and hard about the issues before them.

Barbara Blumberg, Baltimore