County commissioner meeting prayer touches off strong debate in high country
Republican Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson recently opened a can of worms by getting his fellow commissioners to agree to starting meetings with a prayer, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
Signed off on by fellow GOP commissioners John Martin and Tom Jankovsky, the practice has touched off a debate in the letters to the editor section of the Glenwood Post Independent:
But Andi Duplesys of Silt wrote that people take separation of church and state too far: “It’s difficult for me that people get so offended about that. It’s such a positive thing.”
Samson says he’s just trying to be more like the federal government: “The U.S. Congress begins with a prayer. I think that’s a good example for us to follow.”
Various atheist and freedom of religion groups weighed in that the commissioners should avoid the controversy altogether or just observe a moment of silence like the Rifle City Council. If not, they need to make the prayer open to everyone, including atheists.
Samson said he’d be open to atheists participating in the prayer. It seems, though, a prayer from an atheist might wind up resulting in the suggested moment of silence.