Washougal prayer issue is postponed

Councilwoman Connie Jo Freeman requests delay

The issue of allowing prayer at Washougal City Council meetings involved public comments last night, but there was no council discussion.

Councilwoman Connie Jo Freeman, who has expressed support for allowing prayer at meetings, requested the issue be delayed until further notice.

Councilwoman Jennifer McDaniel pointed out that some of the audience members were at the meeting to talk about the prayer issue.

Jessie Vedanti, the priest at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, in Washougal, spoke against the prospect of corporate prayer to begin City Council meetings.

“You are serving on this council for your wisdom, knowledge and abilities,” she said. “Where you draw your wisdom, knowledge and abilities from is not universal. It is not universal for those on this council or for Washougal, a community of 14,000 people who do not all believe the same thing.”

Melody Good, of Camas, said the council should “deal with city business, not religious ideologies.”

After the meeting, Freeman said she requested the prayer issue be postponed indefinitely because she wanted to take time to study the issue and involve the community in discussions.

“I do not want to offend,” she said. “I want to do things in an educated manner.”

City Attorney Don English has said prayer at public meetings is not prohibited, but “it is always contentious.”

If the council approves a formal written policy to allow prayer, it would have to provide for participation by non-religious groups.