They can’t ask the audience to rise or bow their heads

They can’t ask the audience to participate.  Council Member Morgan asked people to bow their heads when she said a prayer at the August 23rd meeting.  So I emailed her this note.

forward:
Honorable Council Member Morgan,
The invocation is supposed to be for the council members and not the audience.  You are not supposed to ask the audience to bow their heads.
You asked the audience to bow their heads in this session:
Here is the link to Jason R. Gabriel, General Counsel’s memo:

http://www.coj.net/city-council/docs/misc/ogc-invocationopinion-2014-09-20.aspx

 it is advisable   ….  to enlist best practices to seek to obtain a diverse panel of guest chaplains and to insure that no one attending a Council meeting feels coerced. Some suggestions include:

  • No person attending a city council meeting should be required to participate in any prayer.
  • Neither the council nor the clerk should ask about or review the content of any prayer.
  • No City official should  ask the audience to take any overt act either (bow head, stand up, etc.).
  • The clerk should not remove a congregation from the list of invitees or refuse to include one.
  • No speaker should offer a prayer at consecutive meetings or at more than three meetings in a year.
  • Hold invocations at the beginning of meetings.
  • Have a written statement acknowledging that the invocation policy is open to all and that the prayers are not intended to advance, proselytize, or disparage any one faith over others.
  • Publicize that the invocation is open to anyone by posting on the City website and/or announcing at Council meetings.
  • Actively reach out to non-traditional faith groups to increase the diversity of invocation speakers.

How to apply to be an invocation speaker from July 2016 to June 2017

Excerpt from an email I received from the assistant to the current city council president:

I appreciate you inquiring about the City of Jacksonville’s invocation policy.  Council President Boyer has selected Council Member Joyce Morgan to serve as the Council Chaplain this year.  In this role, Council Member Morgan is tasked with ensuring that a variety of faiths and beliefs are scheduled to offer the legislative invocation.  All religious denominations are welcome to apply to give the invocation by contacting Council Member Joyce Morgan’s office at 630.1389 or joycemorgan@coj.net.