ACLU opposes Miami-Dade Commission proposal to reinstate pre-meeting prayers

In a letter to commissioners, the ACLU urged commissioners to keep their opening moment of silence, warning that prayer could be “divisive” and lead to a possible lawsuit.

11/28/2012 6:17 PM

11/28/2012 6:19 PM

The ACLU of Florida on Wednesday formally opposed a proposal to reinstate opening prayers at Miami-Dade Commission meetings.

The proposal, by Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, is scheduled for a final vote Tuesday.

In a letter to commissioners, ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon and John de Leon, president of the organization’s Greater Miami chapter, urged commissioners to keep their opening moment of silence, warning that prayer could be “divisive” and lead to a possible lawsuit.

“Inevitably, as the Commission has experienced in the past, some religious leader will offer an invocation that may genuinely be intended not to ‘advance any particular faith,’ but which will not be so interpreted by members of the community who are in attendance and who may be made to feel uncomfortable, marginalized and like second-class citizens of our community because their religious views differ from those offered by the Commission-invited religious leader,” the letter says.

Diaz’s proposal would require the county to create a database of local religious leaders who would be limited to the number of invocations they could deliver at the county each year. Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s administration estimates that setting up the database would cost $22,000, with about $4,000 in annual maintenance costs.

Editor's Choice Videos

Join the Discussion

Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service