The church-state environment in Weatherford, Texas, differs greatly from the non-theist sentiment that so regularly overtakes communities across America. On Tuesday, the first time in nearly four decades, the Weatherford City Council voted four to one on Tuesday to usher back in the Pledge of Allegiance and an invocation at meetings.
Last month, the Parker County Ministerial Alliance petitioned for the return of these elements at government gatherings. Initially, politicians were hesitant and they discussed merely adding a moment of silence, but those in support of something more specific petitioned leaders to delve deeper.
"Prayer is beneficial to the whole city, saying we are under God," explained Alliance President Scott Wilson.
But one resident, Bobbie Narramore, disagreed, contending that adding the prayer was exclusionary to those who don't believe, CBS DFW reports.
"I am against an invocation," he said. "I am for the separation of the church and state."
"We have Muslims living here. We have Jews living here. By having prayer, we’re telling them forget you because you don’t have a recognized church," Narramore added.
Even Mayor Dennis Hooks was on the fence regarding the initial vote, claiming that he wanted to be fair to all residents and not just those embracing faith. But in the end, the council decided to include prayer and the pledge.
Already, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), led by Annie Laurie Gaylor and her husband Dan Barker, is already voicing opposition to the initiative. The group sent a letter to the city, warning that bringing an invocation back into the fold could violate the U.S. constitution.
In the end, one "no" vote that was cast by Mayor Pro-Tem Waymon Hamilton, who expressed worries over the potential of a costly legal battle with atheist groups. Rather than keeping the focus upon faith and its presence in government affairs, the politician lamented the potential fallout.
"I am not opposed to prayer. The Lord is the one who knows who prays. Putting the taxpayers at risk of litigation is not prudent," he said.
(H/T: CBS DFW)