Rapid City (South Dakota) Leaders Vote to Keep Religious Invocations at Meetings

I’ve spent a lot of time on this site talking about Rapid City, South Dakota, where the City Council begins meetings with an invocation delivered by a “local minister.“ FFRF has sent them warnings about it, but they haven’t stopped.

City Council member Bill Clayton (center)

Most recently, they told a college-aged church/state activist that he was “too young to have wisdom.”

Now, the Wise Men on the council have voted to keep their invocations, because, you know… tradition!

The Rapid City Council voted unanimously Monday night against establishing a policy that calls for prayer at its meetings.

“We’re not going to have a policy,” said Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Wright, who made the first motion to deny creating a policy. “We are simply going to follow tradition.”

Because if you do the wrong thing year after year, it suddenly becomes right.

The council members did vote on something else, though: They decided to consider offers from Christian legal groups willing to defend them in case of a lawsuit. (As if that alone didn’t point to the sectarian nature of these prayers.)

Readers in Rapid City, who the hell keeps voting in these “wise” council members who think the government should be an extension of the Christian church? Can someone with respect for the First Amendment run for office next time around?

(via Religion Clause)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • JKPS

    I loathe the “it’s tradition!” argument. It’s the one people fall back on when they have absolutely no ground to stand on. They *know* they’re in the wrong, so they say, “Well, it’s tradition!” Pathetic is what it is.

  • A3Kr0n

    This country was founded on NOT following tradition!

    • 3lemenope

      That’s not really true. Most of the founders and fellow travelers justified the first steps of protest and revolution as having direct continuity with the rights and privileges due their status as English subjects. The accusation was that the Crown and Parliament had breached faith *with them* by violating long-standing traditions of English democracy in their treatment of the colonists.

  • JET

    Well then… They seem to be expecting a lawsuit so give them one. Maybe when their violations start costing them and their christian lawyers money that might better be spent on roads or something, their constituents will tell them to shut up. Every time I read one of these articles, I’m glad that I live where I do. I’ve been to several city council meetings and have never heard prayers.

  • SeekerLancer

    It’s tradition! You know… like genital mutilation!

  • kielc

    What the frack is Ritchie Nordstrom (Ward 2) wearing in the photo above? Is he, like, a finish line, or did he get tangled in some party decorations, or is it some sort of straightjacket? Yeah, that third possibility sounds right…

  • newavocation

    When hell freezes over! Oh wait we are talking about South Fridged Dakota.

  • C Peterson

    Every time I see this picture, I’m thinking… Amanda is looking a little rough!

    • Gus Snarp

      I was horrified about the first comment about Amanda the first time a story with this picture ran. Then I looked at the picture. Poor Amanda!

    • Guesty von Guestheim

      It’s a man. Duh. Not nearly as bad as the guy from Ward 2 and his horrific outfit.

  • http://about.me/bob_schwartz BWSchwartz

    I don’t live In Rapid City but live near by and I can tell you South Dakota in general and Western South Dakota in particular is so far right that no election will change this and would in fact re-enforce it. To see the mentality of this area in print, just Google American Clarion and read the dribble coming from my West River neighbors.

  • rhodent

    “We are simply going to follow tradition”

    I can only assume he’s referring to the tradition of losing lawsuits when you blatantly violate the First Amendment.

  • OregoniAn

    To their credit: if there “is” a God – “Amanda Scott’s” morbid obesity, Ritchie Nordstrom’s hellacious “Cosby” sweater fixation, and Bill Clayton’s male pattern graying hair (or is that bird poop??) are all sure signs that our big-ass sky fairy has a particularly warped and wicked sense of humor !

  • Uncle Sunshine

    Holy crap, my home town mentioned in one of my favorite blogs! Bill Clayton is actually the guy in the middle. He’s recently stirred up a surprisingly little amount of controversy by telling a local African-American reporter to go back to Kenya with Obama. Yup, our elected officials can say shit like that in this town and remain in office. I actually used to work with him. He was a program manager for a project I worked on a few years ago. Combine basic arrogance with a whole lot of Napoleon complex and you get Bill. He is defiantly not the teachable type.

  • Zaydin

    You know what I want to tell these people? “You know what else was traditional? Slavery and racial segregation”


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