Originally Published: FOX 35 News – 19 Apr 2011, 2:32 PM EDT
LADY LAKE, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) – Town commissioners and residents in Lady Lake pray before each meeting. But, Bill Calhoun, a resident in the town and a member of the planning and zoning board, has been fighting it for years.
“Most of the prayers here are Christian’s, and for most of us who are not Christian, that’s not something we should be exposed to,” said Calhoun at a meeting Monday evening.
The topic was a big deal on Monday’s agenda – hundreds in the community turned out, several with signs like ‘in god we trust.’
Calhoun said the only prayer that’s practiced at the meetings, which are held bi-weekly, is that of Christian faith and that’s unconstitutional.
Town Attorney Derek Schroth insists that’s not the case.
“These kinds of prayers are permitted as long as you don’t exclude other faiths, which our town does not do,” said Schroth.
The prayer which kicks off every meeting has been the trend for decades.
Most people that turned out at the meeting Monday want it to stay that way.
“We have people that want to stop our traditional way of life, and we’re here to say no, let’s keep America the way it is,” said Dan Webber, a lady lake resident and president of AMAC.
Those that took the podium in favor of keeping the public prayer said just because Calhoun feels offended, that doesn’t make him right.
Calhoun proposed a moment of silence before each meeting, instead of a prayer.
“We should have a moment of silence this way anyone in the audience, across the board, can do what they chose,” said Calhoun.
“They can pray, do whatever they want, but it should not be aimed at a specific religion.”
Town commissioners said so far the prayer debate cost them and the taxpayers about $3,000. They voted to continue conducting the prayer before every meeting. Calhoun, who has a big support group in Washington D.C., says he’s not giving up – the town will hear from his attorney.