Should We Pray Before Public Meetings?

WDET’s Jake Neher and Michigan Public Radio’s Cheyna Roth talk about how the debate plays out in Michigan.

Jake Neher/WDET

There’s been a lot of debate recently surrounding the national anthem being played at the beginning of sporting events.

But an even longer-standing debate in America surrounds the recitation of prayers at the beginning of public meetings.

WDET’s Jake Neher and Michigan Public Radio’s Cheyna Roth talk about how that debate plays out here in Michigan.

Recently, courts ruled on a lawsuit out of Jackson County involving that county’s board of commissioners’ practice of beginning each meeting with Christian prayers and asking those in attendance to participate. In September, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the board did not violate the U.S. Constitution in doing so.

But some onlookers say that ruling conflicts with other court rulings on the matter.

“When we’re talking about that (phrase) ‘separation of church and state,’ we’re talking about — in the legal sense — the Establishment Clause in the Constitution. So, what does it mean to establish a religion?” asks Neher. “It’s still legal gray area.”

“The reason that it’s such an important issue is because it’s all about feeling comfortable participating in the Democratic process,” says Roth.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


  • Cheyna Roth
    Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She's also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.
  • Jake Neher
    Jake Neher is senior producer for Detroit Today and host of MichMash for 101.9 WDET. He previously reported on the Michigan Legislature for the Michigan Public Radio Network.