BEREA, Ky. — The president of the Kentucky Council of Churches expressed opposition on Tuesday to a proposal that would appoint a Baptist pastor to serve as a chaplain for the city and present prayers at public meetings.
In March, an atheist named Ali Blair delivered the invocation for the Berea City Council meeting, which stirred some in attendance to speak out during the public comment period, both for and against the occurrence.
“[L]ook within yourselves and invoke your own capacity for compassion, civility and reason, and let these things guide you as you make decisions tonight,” Blair said during her prepared remarks.
The invocation consequently prompted a proposal that would ensure that the situation would not occur again. Municipal order 03-19 states that the “council intends to revise the policy of invocations by appointing a council chaplain to offer invocations before council meetings.”
The selected chaplain was Kevin Slemp, the pastor of Berea Baptist Church. He would be paid $25 for each meeting.
However, some spoke against the idea during Tuesday’s meeting, including those who identified themselves as Christians, claiming that it is unconstitutional and that there are more important issues for the government to focus on.
Tony Cracchiolo said that he asked others around the city what problems actually needed addressing because finding those interested in presenting the invocation is not a “problem.” He stated sarcastically, “I thought you all had run out of problems.”
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