Northern Calif. City Council Faces Prayer Debate

Should be an interesting council meeting in Lodi tonight

Atheists and church groups are expected to face off tonight over prayers at Lodi City Council meetings.

"Jesus is not an illegal word and we are defending pastors' right to compose a prayer of their own making to their own god," Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt said earlier.

But Lodi resident David Diskin sees things differently. He said some people in the community do not want to see the council marketing Christianity.

"We really just want people to be comfortable when they attend City Council meetings, and to have those meetings be as secular as possible," Diskin said.

City policy bars Christian-specific references during council meetings, but pastors are often invited to perform invocations, which sometimes include elected leaders praying to Jesus.

Leaders are revisiting the practice after a threat of a lawsuit.

Officials said the council may settle on a moment of silence in place of a prayer.

The City Council will meet at 7 p.m.

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