Invocation Invites Debate on Gov't Prayer

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For the first time since early 2004, the word invocation appeared on a College Station city council agenda.

After reverting to a moment of silence to answer some concerns, this council voted in favor of bringing the tradition back.

"The Supreme Court has rules on this," said Mayor Ron Silvia, "and as long as we keep our prayers generic, we are complying."

That compliance, they say, is making those prayers non-sectarian. Letters have been sent out to local religious leaders with that fact expressly stated. Some have obviously accepted the offer. Others have declined the offer.

"For us, since we firmly believe that the only access to God is through Jesus, we fell the necessity to state that in prayer," said Pastor Chris Osborne from Central Baptist Church. "So we couldn't do it."

The city of Bryan has held invocations for years, with religious names invoked on a regular basis. But Silvia says the choose to air on the safe side.

"The Senate opens up with a prayer," Silvia referenced. "The House opens up with a prayer. Go down to Austin, and they open their meetings with prayers."

But Osborne said, "I prayed three times at the Texas Senate. All three times, my prayers have been entered into the record. I've prayed in Jesus Christ's name, and have never had any issue at all."

The interpretation of law is obviously up for debate, but a long-standing tradition has returned, regardless of religion.