COOLIDGE, Ariz. – A proposal under consideration by the city council in the Arizona city of Coolidge would allow only Christian prayers before its meetings.
The council voted 4-2, with one member absent, on Monday to amend a resolution so it no longer allows prayers from a variety of faiths before meetings.
Councilman Rob Hudelson moved to amend the proposal, saying Christianity is in the country's history.
Attorney Denis Fitzgibbons warned, however, that the city was opening itself to discrimination lawsuits by only allowing Christian prayer. Hudelson said Fitzgibbons is paid "to avoid us getting into these problems."
"Oh, you'll get into this problem," said Fitzgibbons, who is rewriting the resolution to include the changes sought by the council and expects to bring it back for further consideration.
Victoria Lopez, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said allowing Christian-only prayer raises constitutional issues.
"We are of the opinion it would violate the Constitution and send a really bad message to folks that live in the town of Coolidge that, if they're not Christian, then they are excluded from participating in government affairs," Lopez told The Associated Press.
"This is a striking take on this issue, one that you think we wouldn't see in 2015," she said.
Councilman Gilbert Lopez, a member of a Catholic church, voted to reject the Christian prayer-only proposal.
"When we took the oath of office, we said we would uphold the laws of the state of Arizona and the United States," he said.
Mayor Jon Thompson is a Christian and also voted against the resolution, the Casa Grande Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/1ihh3uJ ). He said the council is knowingly heading toward litigation it can't afford.
"If I had a problem with what was being said during the prayer, I wouldn't pay attention," he said.
Council member Gary Lewis voted in favor of the Christian prayer proposal.
"Under my faith, I wouldn't sit here and listen to it," Lewis said. "I would walk away."
Information from: Casa Grande Dispatch.