CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte City Council is expected to bring up a hot topic Monday: whether or not the council should continue having a prayer before meetings.
Mayor Jennifer Roberts announced last week that the council was canceling its pre-meeting prayer based on advice from the city attorney, but city leaders could change their stance as soon as this week. City leaders are currently scheduled to meet at noon Monday, with the City Council prayer being among the agenda items.
“We are going to change the way that we conduct it on the expert advice of our attorney,” said Roberts, who claimed if the council continues to pray before meetings, the city violates freedom of religion, citing laws in other municipalities.
Earlier this year, a federal appeals court told Rowan County leaders they needed to change their prayer before meetings because nearly every prayer was Christian, which violated “religious freedom and tolerance." Judge Paul Niemeyer wrote in a dissent that majority opinion "actively undermines the appropriate role of prayer in American civil life."
"It was odd. We were all caught off guard," said Kenny Smith, the Republican candidate for Mayor. "The city attorney by no means thinks we're on unstable ground and that we are in any shape or form violating federal law or court rulings."
Vi Lyles weighed in on her official Facebook page, saying "I believe the City Council should continue to allow for the expression of prayer based on the guidance of the law."