Weatherford Democrat

June 13, 2012

City council approves prayer, pledge

Brian Smith

WEATHERFORD — By a 4-1 vote Tuesday night, Weatherford City Council members voted to begin each meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance to both the U.S. and Texas flag and an invocation.

A standing room only crowd, that included several members of the Parker County Ministerial Alliance, which asked the council to consider the items, was heavily in favor of the items. Alliance President Scott Wilson, who said he felt like he “was taking up for God,” said the council wanting a moment of silence simply wasn’t enough.

“Prayer is beneficial to the whole city, saying we are under God,” Wilson said.

Councilman Jeff Robinson made the motion with Craig Swancy seconding. Mayor Pro Tem Waymon Hamilton cast the dissenting vote, saying he did not want to put the taxpayers under threat of litigation with the vote.

“I am not opposed to prayer,” Hamilton, who said he prays privately before meetings, said. “The Lord is the one who knows who prays. Putting the taxpayers at risk of litigation is not prudent.”

Robinson brought out the fact that the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth and Congress open their sessions with prayer, saying it shouldn’t be an issue here. In closing, Wilson praised the council for its service and asked them to allow the alliance, which said at a previous meeting it would have ministers conduct the prayer, to do this for them.

Resident Bobbie Narramore was against the invocation, wanting to keep the separation of church and state intact.

 “We have Muslims living here. We have Jews living here,” Narramore said. “By having prayer, we’re telling them forget you because you don’t have a recognized church.”

After the public forum, each council member talked about their mindset on the matter. Swancy said he understood what the council was up against. He said he would rather the city would not get into litigation, but said he supported prayer.

Robinson said if the Supreme Court could have prayer, the chances of litigation were very small.

“The Parker County Commissioners Court does it,” Robinson said. “I would very much like to see us do it. When people pray together as a group, great things come of it.”

Councilwoman Heidi Wilder was torn, saying she agreed with the pledge idea but was torn on the prayer. She said she received several e-mails this week and was concerned with litigation but later sided with the prayer group.

Mayor Dennis Hooks said after many weeks of discussion, it was “time to put the matter to rest.”

In other news, the council approved Hamilton’s nomination of Swancy to be the new mayor pro tem. His motion was seconded by Wilder and approved unanimously. Hamilton then motioned Wilder to take over for him on the Municipal Utility Board. Swancy was then reappointed to his North Texas Council of Government position.

The council also approved a resolution requesting the temporary closure of U.S. Highway 180 for the annual Parker County Peach Festival and revising the FY 2012 Adopted Fee Schedule.

The city will begin charging for public information requests after an onslaught of requests in the past few months. All fees will now be in line with the Texas Administrative Code, city officials previously stated.

Parker County Amateur Radio Club President Tony Guess received a proclamation stating Saturday, June 23 as Amateur Radio Field Day in Weatherford. Guess said he and his fellow radio operators will be going 24 hours broadcasting and using nothing but radio power during an event at a location near the Mormon church on Bethel Road. The event begins at 1 p.m. June 23 and continues through noon on June 24. The public is invited to attend and even take part with other radio operators all over the world.