The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to officials in Raleigh, Clayton, Pittsboro, and Chatham County, NC, pointing out that official prayers at council meetings that refer to specific religions are a violation of the First Amendment.
I like the ACLU for a lot of their work, but in this case I have to wonder what they’re thinking. Official prayers before governmental meetings have been a long tradition, and many bodies handle it by bringing in clergy from different religions. Those clergy then sometimes do a very generic prayer, or they might take the opportunity to “sell” their faith. (Of course, in some religious beliefs, it is hard to imagine how one would say a “neutral” prayer.)
However, while saying a religiously neutral prayer might avoid a governmental endorsement of a particular religion, the act of prayer to a “god” endorses a particular sort of religious beliefs. I’m not sure why the ACLU — I’m thinking this must be the North Carolina branch — would send a letter asking for neutrality, instead of just going for the more controversial stance and asking for no endorsed prayer at all. In other words, if you’re going to be unpopular, might as well be logical.