Va. County Drops Opening Prayer at Meetings

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The Henrico, Va., Board of Supervisors will no longer open its meetings with prayer. The decision ends a 35-year tradition for the board.

County Attorney Joseph Rapisarda said board members decided dropping the opening prayer was the easiest way to resolve recent complaints.

Following a June 12 meeting dealing with an appeal over an approved plan to build a mosque, the board received two complaints about the opening prayer.

The first came from a Muslim who was offended when the pastor closed with "in Christ's name, I pray."

The second complaint came from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which defines itself as an "educational association working to keep church and state separate and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism."

Based on a federal court ruling issued last year, the board had three choices: a moment of silence, a non-sectarian prayer, or no prayer at all.

Rapisarda said the board opted for dropping the prayer. 

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