Trib: “Monroeville Council drops meeting prayer”

The Monroeville Interfaith Ministerium was featured in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Monroeville Council drops meeting prayer

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Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Updated 15 hours ago

Monroeville officials decided Tuesday not to move forward with a proposed ordinance that would have allowed local religious leaders to open meetings with an invocation.

Instead, they unanimously decided to go with a moment of silence to begin council meetings in place of a prayer.

The moment of silence was suggested by the Monroeville Interfaith Ministerium, which endorsed it as an way to allow everyone to pray as they wish.

“We really did wrestle with this,” Mayor Greg Erosenko said.

The American Civil Liberties Union had threatened a lawsuit if Erosenko didn’t stop reciting the Lord’s Prayer before council meetings.

The ACLU maintains the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer at council meetings in unconstitutional.

Erosenko expressed unhappiness with the way the issue was presented to council and the threat of a lawsuit.

“I don’t want to make the ACLU any richer,” he said. “They’re an organization I’m disappointed in.”

During the past few months, council heard opinions from residents and local religious leaders both in support and against prayer at meetings.

Monroeville resident Joshua Allenberg filed a complaint with the ACLU in September regarding council’s use of the Lord’s Prayer.

Monroeville, with about 28,000 people, is home to centers of worship representing multiple faiths. The nonprofit Interfaith Ministerium has members representing Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Hindu traditions, among others.

Several council members thanked residents, religious leaders and the ministerium for coming to the meetings and speaking about the issue.

Although some council members expressed disappointment at dropping public prayer from the meetings, they acknowledged that times have changed.

“My heart tells me to continue what we’ve been doing,” councilman Ron Harvey. said “But I believe the ministerium is sending us in the right direction.”

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at 412-871-2369

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