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Syracuse Outlines Prayer Policy

Syracuse Outlines Prayer Policy

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SYRACUSE, Utah (AP) -- The city of Syracuse has responded to a request from an atheist group about prayers opening city council meetings by establishing a new policy.

Utah Atheists sent letters late last year to more than 150 towns across the state reminding them to comply with two state Supreme Court rulings.

In 1993, the high court ruled that prayer before meetings is only legal if prayer is nondiscriminatory and available to all.

Ten years later, another ruling specified that cities could not deny anyone the right to participate in prayer because of the anticipated content of their message.

Under Syracuse's new formal policy, anyone who wishes may request -- on a first-come, first-served basis -- to open the regular council meetings with an invocation or thought.

That person will be limited to 90 seconds, and NO one person may give the invocation or thought more than once per quarter.

If no one asks to give the invocation, the mayor can ask a willing person to do it.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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