Knox committee sends prayer at meetings policy to commission

Knox committee sends prayer at meetings policy to commission

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By JESSA LEWIS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knox County Commission's Rules Committee is sending a written prayer policy to the full commission with a positive recommendation following its meeting Thursday.

The written policy would solidify a long-standing practice to hold a brief prayer before the start of commission meetings if it's passed.

The commission does not currently have a written policy on prayer, but some commissioners have expressed hope such a policy would prevent a lawsuit from organizations like Freedom from Religion.

That Wisconsin-based group has already filed a suit against the Hamilton County Commission after a Chattanooga resident complained about the practice of public prayers before commission meetings.

Freedom from Religion argues the public prayers by government bodies "flagrantly exceed" constraints of a 1983 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The group has also complained about the word "religion" embroidered on patches worn by Lenoir City police officers. 

Knox County Law Director Joe Jarret believes the written policy would hold up in court, if it came to that. "I don't agree with their interpretation of the law. I stand by that which the county commissioners did and will defend it in court if we have to," Jarret explained.

He also added that because the policy is inclusive of all religious beliefs, it will be legally defendable.

Commission Chairman Mike Hammond says he thinks the policy will pass when it comes to a vote, saying that about 80% of the emails he and other commissioners have received have been in favor of the policy.

Rules Committee Chair Brad Anders also believes it will pass.

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