Essex County to continue prayer tradition

The practice of praying before the monthly meeting of the full Essex County Board of Supervisors will continue.

The regular - and markedly Christian - prayer sessions have been a tradition of the county board for decades. The practice has come under some recent criticism from a few local residents who argue it entangles a secular government with Christianity.

Gesturing to a placard in the 150-year-old board chambers reading "In God We Trust," county Chairman Randy Douglas said Tuesday the monthly prayer is appropriate and thought provoking.

"I don't think we're crossing the line here. It's one complaint," he said. "If you don't want to participate, don't participate, but I don't think we are doing anything wrong."

A protestant deacon, Essex County Clerk Joe Provancha tailors his monthly benediction to the current issues facing local, state and federal leaders.

Cathy Moses is supervisor of Schroon Lake - home to the massive Word of Life bible institute. The first to respond to the criticism of the monthly benediction, Moses said limiting the ability to pray would be an assault on basic constitutional freedoms.

"My rights are as important as anyone else's," she said.

But Elizabethtown Supervisor Noel Merrihew argued that the monthly prayer could be more inclusive of other faiths.

"We could try to make it less denominational," Merrihew said.

Multi-denominational benedictions regularly accompany federal and state events, including the annual State of the State and State of the Union addresses.

Earlier this month, Catholic and Jewish religious leaders offered prayers prior to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State address.

Vote on this Story by clicking on the Icon


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment