In a public display of faith, Quartzsite residents were actually allowed to speak on a proposal to permanently replace the invocation with a moment of silence. The council unanimously chose to disregard the recommendation of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and once again they chose prayer over the constitution, case law.
Quartzsite's history of prayer in the meeting room began with appointed acting mayor Wes Huntley, who thought he was so pious that he should personally invoke Jesus' name. After Ed Foster was elected as Mayor, and he gave the invocation, Huntley supporters were outraged and pushed for an ammendment to stop the mayor from leading the people in a request for divine guidance, at the council meeting on 10-26-10.
102610 – 6. Discussion and possible approval of Ordinance No. 10-18; amending the Town Code Chapter 2 – Mayor and Council, Section 2-4-6 – Order of Business. Council Member Lukkasson motioned to approve Ordinance No. 10-18; amending the Town Code Chapter 2 – Mayor and Council, Section 2-4-6 – Order of Business. Motion seconded by Council Member Kelley. Ms. Jennifer Harris, resident, comments regarding her research on this item. Council Member Winslow calls for Point of Order. Ms. Harris suggests observing a Moment of Silence instead of the Invocation. Mayor Foster states this is another attempt of this Council to deprive the Mayor of the authority of the Council Meeting and if this item passes he has no intention of letting the Council dictate who gets to do the invocation. Mayor Foster states that it is the Mayor’s prerogative to do that and will continue to do that. Mayor Foster states should this become an issue it will go to court. Discussion regarding the Invocation portion of the agenda. Mayor Foster calls for the vote. Vote – 6 in favor, 1 opposed (Mayor Foster). MOTION CARRIED.
Town Code 2-4-6 officially lists the invocation as part of the Town Council Meeting agenda, and states it is to be performed by a member of clergy or a member of the council.
The Establishment Clause of the First Ammendment to the U.S. Constitional states,
Together with the Free Exercise Clause ("... or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"), these two clauses make up what are called the "religion clauses" of the First Amendment.
The establishment clause has generally been interpreted to prohibit 1) the establishment of a national religion by Congress, or 2) the preference by the U.S. government of one religion over another. The first approach is called the "separation" or "no aid" interpretation, while the second approach is called the "non-preferential" or "accommodation" interpretation. The accommodation interpretation prohibits Congress from preferring one religion over another, but does not prohibit the government's entry into religious domain to make accommodations in order to achieve the purposes of the Free Exercise Clause.