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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 05Jan02
By Kent Larsen
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Lawyer Cites Lord in Condemning LDS Bishop's Prayer

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA -- In a brief filed December 18th with the California State Court of Appeals, lawyer Roger Jon Diamond claimed that " . . . Jesus disapproved of praying in public," and argued that a prayer by a bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, given at a Burbank City Council meeting, isn't protected by the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of Freedom of Religion.

Diamond, who is representing Irv Rubin, a Jew present when the prayer was given, is arguing that prayers which mention Jesus are sectarian and not protected by the Constitution. Diamond's brief was filed in response to an appeal by the Burbank City Council of a December 2000 decision by a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge that the prayer violated Rubin's civil rights.

The prayer was given November 23, 1999 by Bishop David King, who had volunteered to give the prayer through the Burbank Ministerial Association, an ecumenical group that draws on religious leaders throughout the city for the council's prayers. Following LDS custom, the prayer ended in the name of Christ.

But Rubin, a representative of the Jewish Defense League, was offended and later said "No Jew, no matter how liberal, can feel totally comfortable with a prayer that includes Jesus Christ. . . . It makes any non-Christian feel like an outsider." He then filed a lawsuit against the city, saying that his constitutional rights were violated by the prayer. In November 2000 a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge agreed, and issued an injunction prohibiting Burbank from "sectarian" prayers. Following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the decision allows prayers to be given by ministers, but prohibits them from being specific to any religion.

But citing Jesus in the brief takes his words out of context, claim some local religious leaders. The Rev. Kim Strutt, who is a member of the Burbank Ministerial Association, told the Los Angeles Times, "[Jesus] was speaking of religious leaders who were off base in drawing attention to themselves," and not just of just anyone praying in public.

The case has drawn significant local attention, and the support of national organizations on both sides of the question. At least 34 California cities have filed briefs in support of Burbank's claim that Bishop King can pray "in the name of Jesus Christ" at its council meetings. But Rubin's claim is also supported by other groups, including the New York-based Council for Secular Humanity, an athiest group that wants prayers banned from council meetings altogether.


Jewish activist cites Jesus in lawsuit
Los Angeles Times 2Jan02 D2
By Ryan Carter
Recent court documents in council prayer case use passages from Bible to support argument.

See also:

California Cities Support Appeal of LDS Prayer Case
Mormon News 29Nov01 T6
By Kent Larsen

LDS Prayer Causes Controversy In Burbank, California
Mormon News 8Nov00 T4
By Kent Larsen


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