- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 11, 2014

SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - A suburban Detroit clerk has added a reference to God in the township’s oath of office following a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on Christian prayers at the start of government meetings.

Shelby Township Clerk Stanley Grot won approval from the board of trustees to give officeholders the option of ending their oath with “so help me God,” The Detroit News reported (https://bit.ly/SMM2lt ). Grot notes that the phrase is a common conclusion to other oaths.

“I think we need to bring God back to what we are doing,” Grot said.

Grot, who became clerk in 2012, uses the oath when swearing in police and fire hires, members of boards and commissions and elections workers in the Macomb County community, located about 20 miles northeast of Detroit.

“It dawned on me, I almost automatically started saying ‘so help me God’ but it wasn’t in there. We revisited it and there it is,” he said.

On Tuesday, Grot swore in Laura White, a part-time clerk typist who started her job four weeks ago. Grot asked White to raise her right hand and repeat after him, making it clear that “so help me God” was optional. White said she had no problem uttering the words.

“My faith in Jesus Christ and God is very important to me. And as a public servant, I have no problem adding that on to my oath,” she said. “It is an option, and it is an option I chose.”

In May, a narrowly divided Supreme Court upheld decidedly Christian prayers at the start of local council meetings, declaring them in line with long national traditions though the country has grown more religiously diverse. That case stemmed a community in upstate New York.

In Michigan, some communities report that they have used an invocation or prayer at their council or board meeting, according to the Michigan Municipal League. Prior to the ruling, the League suggested that its member communities consult with their lawyers.

“We also suggested that governing bodies could have a prayer or invocation at a public meeting as long as it didn’t promote one particular religion,” said Matt Bach, spokesman for the league.

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Information from: The Detroit News, https://detnews.com/

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