MESA, Ariz. – The Mesa school board is having second thoughts about its recent decision to replace the non-denominational prayer that has traditionally opened each board meeting with a moment of silence.
AZCentral.com reports the board “quietly ended” the long-standing practice in November after the district’s attorneys advised members they could potentially be sued by those offended by prayer.
“We were told it’s a church-state issue,” Mesa school board member Michelle Udall told the news site in November. “We would likely not win in the long run.”
The board and its attorney became skittish about offering a public prayer after the U.S. Supreme Court justices heard arguments just days before about whether a New York town violated the Constitution by beginning nearly every town council meeting during an 11-year span with an overtly Christian prayer, TheGuardian.com reports.
The Supreme Court is expected to make its decision by June.
It only took Mesa taxpayers, however, a few days to reach their decision about the new policy. AZCentral.com reports board members received 20 emails from residents – all of whom opposed the move.
Mesa resident Harry Scott seemed to capture the community’s sentiment in his email: “MPS has always stood for the solid traditional (and, yes, Christian) values that this country was founded on. Unfortunately, the culture that has defined America’s greatness is eroding into political correctness. Please summon up the courage to stand firm. The district needs prayer now more than ever.”
Board Clerk Mike Hughes suggested that if the board reinstates the practice, it might do so by inviting a wide range of religious leaders to offer the opening prayer.
AZCentral.com reports that until its November decision, Mesa “was one of the few districts to still feature a prayer on meeting agendas.”