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"The courts tend to look at legislative bodies' prayers as more historical than anything else," Carroll said. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld prayers by the Cobb County, Ga., commission because groups from various faiths were allowed to participate, Carroll said.

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Courts treat prayer in government meetings differently than other public prayers, including those in school, said John Carroll, dean of the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. Rulings have allowed the prayers as long as they meet certain standards.

Freethought Association in Talladega, who said she forwarded the complaints. "They're supposed to be abiding by the law. We are prepared to go to whatever lengths we have to, legally, to have this stopped."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation recently sent a letter to Council President Roderick Royal on behalf of the Alabama Freethought Association, the group's Alabama chapter, calling the practice divisive and unnecessary."What's that got to do with city government?" Gaylor said. "That's really overstepping the line of state and church."

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That ruling was written by Judge Bill Pryor, a former Alabama attorney general.

"The invocation is always an invitation for those to pray who wish to pray. It's not a mandatory thing," Royal said. "In fact, the invitation is extended to have her (Cleveland) offer whatever prayer she wishes."

Royal said the high number of Protestant prayers is more a reflection of the area's demographics than a bias toward a particular religion.

Gaylor said her group was alerted during the administration of former Mayor Larry Langford, who was known for delivering overt religious messages during his Womens Converse High Tops Cheap

"We're not trying to take anybody's god away from them. We just want the First Amendment and the Constitution protected," said Pat Cleveland, president of the Alabama Converse Shoes High Tops Blue

(The Birmingham News / Hal Yeager)A national group representing atheists and agnostics is challenging the Birmingham City Council's prayer at the beginning of its weekly meetings.

But Gaylor said there is no way to be inclusive when it comes to religion because not all citizens are religious.

Prayer at the council meetings is nothing new, and there have been no known legal challenges, officials Converse Heels Blue

´╗┐Group objects to prayers at start of Birmingham City Council meetings

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"The best way to be inclusive is it to keep God out of government," Gaylor said. "We Converse Uk Mens would like them to concentrate on civic matters and leave the supernatural to their own time."

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Council President Roderick Royal, whose office coordinates the prayer schedule, said the council is open to allowing different groups to deliver the opening prayer. He said he recently invited a Muslim minister to pray.

said Monday.

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mayor's report Tuesday mornings. That, coupled with the prayers, sparked the complaints, she said.

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