Fla. Clergy Demand Jesus Prayers At Pompano Council

Faced with a lobbying campaign by evangelical Christian clergy, a city government in Florida decided in late November to again allow its public meetings to be opened with religion-specific prayers.

The Pompano Beach City Council's decision came only weeks after the announcement of a new city policy allowing only religion-neutral invocations. That change was prompted by local resident Sherry Scharf who complained to the council in October about its long-standing practice of permitting prayers using Jesus' name.

"Since when has Christianity become the designated religion of Pompano Beach?" Scharf asked the council at a meeting in October. "I resent being blessed in the name of Jesus Christ, as I'm sure most people would resent being blessed by Allah, Moses or Buddha."

The city clerk responded to Scharf's concerns by sending a letter to local religious leaders asking that they ensure their invocations before the public meetings are "applicable to all faiths and include all persons in our diverse community, and that no specific religion or religious deity be mentioned or promoted in any way."

That letter did not sit well with conservative clergy and members of TV preacher D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, many of whom attended a public meeting in November to complain about the policy change.

The Sun-Sentinel reported that a majority of the council said they would not enforce the new prayer guidelines.