Charlotte Mayor appears to back down on issue of prayer before council meetings

- One day after outgoing Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts announced the decision not to have a prayer before Charlotte City Council meetings, the mayor now appears to be backtracking.

The mayor’s announcement Monday night stunned some council members, including the two running to take her job.

“Absolutely out of the blue, appeared to be pretty unilateral by the mayor,” Kenny Smith, the Republican nominee for Charlotte mayor, said.

“I don’t think the mayor was very open about that process,” said Vi Lyles, the Democratic nominee for Charlotte mayor.

FOX 46 Charlotte asked Roberts’ assistant for an interview with the mayor Tuesday, but we didn’t hear back.

The mayor did send an email to council members Tuesday saying she thought council members agreed on the decision to end prayer because of recent court rulings and advice from the city attorney.

But the mayor said it’s now clear that some council members do not agree with the decision to end prayer before meetings, so she now plans to send the issue to the city’s Governance and Accountability Committee.

Roberts says this will allow for public input, and the committee can recommend whether council reinstates some form of prayer, and then the full council can vote on the issue.

Smith says there was no discussion Monday night before the mayor announced her original decision.

“My initial thought was we’re politicizing an issue that doesn’t need to be politicized. This (prayer before meetings) is a long-standing tradition. It’s bi-partisan. It’s involved all faiths,” Smith said.

“I believe we should have prayer or an expression of our values and traditions. That doesn’t always mean prayer. Several weeks ago, I did a moment of silence,” Lyles said.

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