Parkersburg City Council says Lord's Prayer despite lawsuit

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) -- Despite a lawsuit being filed over the reading of the Lord's Prayer at its meetings, Parkersburg City Council proceeded as normal Tuesday evening.

After the public joined in the Lord's Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, the meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m. by City Council President John Reed.

In late July, the group "Freedom From Religion" filed suit in federal court seeking to prohibit Parkersburg City Council from saying "The Lord's Prayer" before council meetings.

The group cites recent court decisions in charging the practice is unconstitutional.

Parkersburg attorney George Cosenza says the issue has to do with the reciting of what is considered a Christian prayer.

"A court will have to interpret whether the city council engaging in that behavior, even if it's before the meeting starts, violates the establishment clause," Cosenza says. "And I think it's going to get a little tricky there, when you specifically say that type of prayer at a public event."

During a public forum later in the meeting Tuesday, only one person addressed the issue. She suggested that the entire lawsuit could be avoided by simply designating one minute for a silent prayer so all faiths and persuasions could be observed.

There was no response from council and no action was taken regarding prayer, the lawsuit, or the woman's suggestion.

Almost half of the 50 people in attendance wore name badges saying "I Love Parkersburg." Some said they were with the North Parkersburg Baptist Church congregation.