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Jesus Takes Spotlight at City Council

San Juan officials are set to discuss whether prayers at the beginning of their meetings should invoke the name of specific deities.

First it was a dog named Muhammad. Now it's a son named Jesus.

Religion is back on the agenda at .

San Juan Capistrano council members in September after Councilman Derek Reeve announced he had . Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly even

That same month, the city made national and international headlines when it .

Although the fine was eventually withdrawn, the council is still grappling with how to handle large assemblies in residential areas. On Tuesday’s agenda, the council will discuss writing a new city law to address the issue.

But on the same agenda is a discussion about whether the invocation given at the beginning of meetings should refrain from using the name of specific deities.

Council members take turns giving the invocation. Reeve announced at the Dec. 6 meeting that, from now on, he would like a member of the community to take his place. He said he was looking forward to inviting people of different faiths to participate.

Reeve then invited resident Gary Stache to offer the prayer. Stache is a leader in the .

Later during the meeting, Councilman Sam Allevato took issue with the invocation.

“I have no problem with the message. He did call upon the ‘Son of the Lord,’ which would be referring to a specific religion,” Allevato said. The councilman then requested all invocations to be “generic and nondenominational” out of respect of people of all religions.

“I don’t want us to get in trouble with the ACLU needlessly,” he said.

But Reeve, an attorney, said the law is on his side. In a report the council will consider Tuesday, he presented a court ruling that supported the city of Lancaster's use of an invocation made “in the precious, holy and righteous and matchless name of Jesus.”

A Jewish man and a Christian woman sued the high-desert city, but a federal district judge said they failed to prove the city violated the anti-establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Because the ruling is not from an appellate court, it does not set precedent in the West, but it does reference other cases that do, including a U.S. Supreme Court decision that said legislative prayer holds a special place in government, and courts should not “embark on a sensitive evaluation or … parse the content of a particular prayer.”

Reeve pointed to the .

“I would like to discuss whether a policy needs to be established regarding the appropriateness of merely mentioning a deity (Jesus, Allah, etc.) during an invocation that does not rise to proselytizing,” Reeve wrote in a memo to the council.

The council meets for open-session items at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 32400 Paseo Adelanto, San Juan Capistrano.

j denton December 31, 2011 at 02:59 PM
Perhaps Mr Reeve could spend more time working on the issue that effect the residences of SJC, and less time auditioning for the O'Rielly show
Joel Peshkin December 31, 2011 at 04:32 PM
I have a much simpler solution. If we elect councilmen who are not jerks, they will not keep using their position on the council to experiment with how obnoxious they can be before the court system becomes involved.
sjcnative1 December 31, 2011 at 11:34 PM
I guess we should take our freedoms and thinking away also. Maybe you should just stick to your Elf walk.

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