Miami-Dade Commission votes to pray before meetings

There has been no prayer before meetings for last 8 years

MIAMI - Miami-Dade County Commissioners voted to reinstate prayer before meetings.

VOTE: Should prayer be allowed before government meetings?

Commissioners passed the measure on Tuesday, which calls for prayer before every meeting.

"The prayer goes first, then the Pledge of Allegiance. If you want to be there, fine. If you don't want to be there, that's fine, too," said Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz. "You have different denominations that are going to say the prayer. It's no different than the Senate, than the Congress, than the Supreme Court."

Those opposed to the measure, including Commissioner Sally Heyman, said it is inappropriate at county meetings and can be divisive.

"Twice before since I've been a commissioner here, we have allowed and tried again prayer, and both times it became a situation of divisiveness," said Heyman.

Heyman added that in the past, spiritual leaders mentioned personal beliefs during the non-denominational prayer, sometimes upsetting people in the audience.

"They say, 'Whoops, sorry, that's what I'm used to,' or 'I forgot. It's habit,'" said Heyman.

Heyman said the focus of commission meetings should be about government.

"You got county obligations and county business," said Heyman.

"Government is based on faith," said Diaz.

Commissioners have not prayed before meetings in the last eight years. It will begin with the next scheduled commission meeting.

The prayer will be placed on the agenda like any other item.

The ACLU released a statement on the measure. Click here to read it.

On Tuesday, commissioners also met with youths ahead of the Trayvon Martin murder trial.

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