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Supreme Court Ruling Allows Prayer at City Meetings; No Change for Pismo Beach

PISMO BEACH, Calif. - The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to allow towns and cities across the country to hold prayers before official meetings, and it doesn't matter if those prayers are primarily from one faith. The ruling stirs recent memories of a lawsuit filed against Pismo Beach.

The town of Greece, New York was sued for its predominantly Christian prayers before town meetings. Tthe lawsuit claimed it violated First Amendment rights. But the court says the prayers are ceremonial and in keeping with the nation's traditions, and said judges should not be in the business of censoring prayers.

It's an issue that hit close to home for the Central Coast. The Supreme Court case strongly resembles a recent lawsuit against Pismo Beach. But Pismo's city attorney says the Supreme Court decision won't change anything there.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and a local member of the Atheists United San Luis Obispo sued Pismo Beach, claiming the city's invocations at city council meetings violated the state constitution. Last month, Pismo Beach settled the lawsuit and decided to no longer hold official prayers at its meetings. At the same time, the city decided to eliminate the city chaplain position.

The Pismo Beach city attorney said over the phone that the Supreme Court's decision won't be bringing prayer back to Pismo Beach meetings. The reason is that the lawsuit against Pismo Beach claimed the city's use of prayer was in violation of state law, as opposed to federal law. Even with the Supreme Court ruling, a case still could be brought against California cities.

Advocates for the seperation of church and state say this matter will likely be revisited in court in due time.



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