GEORGETOWN, Del. (AP/WBOC)- Sussex County Council meetings will continue to feature opening prayers, with one important exception.
Council members voted 3-2 on Tuesday to approve a settlement with a group that challenged the council's practice of reciting the Lord's Prayer.
After a federal judge ruled earlier this year that reciting that specific prayer likely violated the First Amendment, the council voted to rotate through a list of nonsectarian prayers to start its meetings. That decision led to further talks with plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit, and an agreement was filed with the court last week. The judge still must approve the agreement. The terms of the agreement have not yet been announced.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed the lawsuit in June 2011 on behalf of four Sussex County residents.
"Prayer is an important part of the lives of so many Sussex Countians," Council President Michael H. Vincent said in a statement. "While this body represents all Sussex County residents, who come from a variety of faiths and walks of life, we firmly believe it is our right – and our duty – to honor the traditions of the past, and to ask for divine guidance each week as we conduct the people's business. I am happy that both sides have reached an amicable resolution, one that respects the rule of law, but preserves council's prerogative to have a legislative prayer."