Judge: Commission Can Open Meetings in Prayer

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A federal judge has denied a preliminary injunction to stop officials in Chattanooga, Tenn., from opening meetings with prayer.

The decision comes after Tommy Coleman and Brandon Jones filed a lawsuit in June claiming that prayers by the Hamilton County Commission promote Christianity and violate the First Amendment.

They originally requested that the prayer be replaced by a minute of silence. Commissioners refused their request.

However, the city did adopt a new policy under which ministers from all different faiths are asked to offer prayer.

U.S. District Judge Sandy Mattice ruled in favor of the city, saying prayer was only unconstitutional if it proselytizes or seeks to advance one faith over another.

The plaintiffs have vowed to appeal.

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