Court Rules in Favor of Atheist 's Prayers

Court Rules in Favor of Atheist 's Prayers

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Stacey Butler reporting Nearly a decade ago, the Murray City Council told an atheist he couldn't offer a controversial prayer to open a council meeting. The man challenged that policy, all the way to the Utah Supreme Court, which has ruled that if there are to be public prayers, an atheist can pray any way he wants.

The Utah Supreme Court ruled that Murray City violated Tom Snyder's rights when he asked to give a prayer before the city council. It started "Our Mother Who art in Heaven."

"(If indeed there is a heaven, and if there is a God that takes a woman's form) hallowed be thy name."

He continued... "We pray that you prevent self-righteous politicians from misusing the name of God in conducting government meetings."

That was nine years ago.

Snyder's attorney, Brian Barnard, filed suit against Murray City in 1994, after being told he couldn't offer controversial prayers before council meetings.

"We do have religious diversity in the state of Utah. We do have people who have religious ideas other than the mainstream, and this is a great opportunity for the Utah Supreme Court to say, 'Hey, let's acknowledge diversity,' Barnard said.

The decision was based on an earlier ruling regarding Salt Lake City Council meetings, which said as long as the chance to offer public prayers was available to all without prejudice, the city could allow it.

Even before the suit was filed, the Salt Lake City Council banned prayer altogether. Now, it's possible Murray City may follow suit.

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