Their will be done

December 31, 1990

The Anne Arundel County Council is in a fix.

After decades of reciting the Lord's Prayer before meetings, the newly elected council decided to stop the practice, because many constituents complained that it violated the separation of church and state. Instead, Chairwoman Virginia P. Clagett kicked off what could become a new tradition by starting a meeting with a moment of silence during which time, we suppose, each council member can pray or meditate in his or her own fashion.

None of this would be news were it not for a chorus of protest that has rung out from some disgruntled county residents who are offended that the King James version of the Lord's Prayer has been dropped from the agenda, and want the practice reinstated. Seeking to avoid the wrath of any voters, council has decided that maybe it ought to allow ministers of different denominations to lead an opening prayer on a rotating basis. But the American Civil Liberties Union recoils from that idea.

The obvious solution to this seemingly intractable dilemma is a little flexibility. When county business is routine and mundane, and the issue is zoning or pot-hole patching, let the council reflect in silence. If a budget deficit is looming and layoffs are in the offing, then, by all means, let the council pray.

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