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Published: Thursday, 10/21/2004

Lord's Prayer removed from agenda


CLYDE - At the advice of its solicitor, Clyde City Council has changed the way it opens its meetings, a council member said yesterday.

For years, the council had opened its meetings with a recitation of the Lord's Prayer, a cornerstone of the Christian faith.

But after an Oct. 10 article in The Blade indicated the practice could be unconstitutional, Clyde solicitor Barry Bova advised the council to substitute a moment of silence for the prayer.

"That's the way he advised us to do it," council member Steve Keegan said yesterday during a brief telephone interview. "I'm not happy about it."

Mr. Bova did not return calls seeking comment. Clyde manager Dan Weaver also did not return calls. Vice Mayor Nina Pascua, who started the practice, could not be reached for comment.

Jeff Gamso, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, said he applauded the change.

"Good for Clyde," Mr. Gamso said. "I trust, on learning that what they were doing was unconstitutional, the good people of the Clyde City Council understood and preferred not to violate the Constitution."

The part of the Constitution in question is the First Amendment.

It prevents government from supporting or endorsing a particular religion, or prohibiting its free exercise.

No one knows how long the council had been opening its meetings with the Lord's Prayer. Mrs. Pascua said this month that she recited it years ago at a meeting when no minister arrived to offer an invocation and the response was so positive the council continued it.

Many governmental bodies in the area start meetings with an ecumenical prayer or a moment of silence, if they choose to have a religious moment at all.

Others stick with the Pledge of Allegiance, or they call the meeting to order and get right to their business agendas.

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