The Latest: Phoenix council replaces prayer with silence

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The Latest on the Phoenix City Council discussion on the future of opening prayers at its meetings (all times local):

7:45 p.m.

The Phoenix City Council has voted 5-4 to replace a longstanding tradition of praying before its meetings with a moment of silence.

The move prevents a group with "Satan" in its name from offering a scheduled prayer at the Feb. 17 meeting.

The moment of silence was offered as an alternate motion to one that would have allowed councilors to select who gives the invocation on a rotating basis. City attorney Brad Holm says the original measure would have subjected Phoenix to a lawsuit over constitutional rights.

More than 50 people gave emotional testimony on how they would like to see the council address prayer.

Councilman Sal DiCiccio vowed to bring the issue before voters.


5:35 p.m.

A Phoenix councilwoman has introduced an amendment to replace the opening prayer at meetings with a moment of silence.

About two dozen people have weighed in on the amendment offered by Thelda Williams at Wednesday's council meeting. Those include religious leaders, state legislators and veterans.

None specifically has backed a group that uses Satan in its name and that is scheduled to give the invocation at the Feb. 17 council meeting. But some have told councilors that they have no right to limit prayer by any group.

Councilman Sal DiCiccio says silencing prayer is the group's intent.


4:36 p.m.

The public wasted no time letting the Phoenix City Council know how it feels about prayer at meetings.

One man told the councilors at a meeting Wednesday that they should pray on their own time. Another man said the city shouldn't disown God.

A third person says a group that uses Satan in its name cannot pass itself off as religious.

The group is scheduled to present the opening prayer during the council's Feb. 17 meeting.

The council is taking up an emergency measure to allow councilors to select who gives the opening prayer.

The meeting was standing-room only.


1 p.m.

The devil won't be just in the details when the Phoenix City Council takes up a political and religious hot potato.

The council is poised Wednesday afternoon to consider whether a group that uses Satan in its name should be allowed to present the opening prayer during a future council meeting.

The issue has implications for constitutional protections for speech and religion and could evolve into whether the council even has opening prayers.

The nation's highest court has upheld public bodies' prayers during meetings.