- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

CHINO VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) - A rabbi was removed from a town council meeting in Northern Arizona after she protested when the mayor read a Christian invocation.

Rabbi Adele Plotkin was escorted out of the Chino Valley council meeting Tuesday after she protested when Mayor Chris Marley, a pastor, read a disclaimer that he intended to do an invocation and again when he ended his prayer in the name of Jesus, The Daily Courier reported (http://bit.ly/1PPsE1u).

“I pray all these things in the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Marley ended his prayer at the meeting.

Marley announced before the Jan. 26 council meeting that he would not perform an invocation until council members had a chance to discuss how they planned to conduct invocations after receiving criticism. He confirmed his intention to halt the prayers to media after the Jan. 26 meeting.

Plotkin, of Chino Valley’s Beit Torah congregation, contacted a reporter before the Tuesday meeting to confirm those plans, saying she couldn’t attend if they prayed to Jesus.

“He lied,” Plotkin said of the mayor’s reversal.

She said her faith considers appearing to approve of worshipping Jesus as idolatry and that she has contacted the American Civil Liberties Union to contest the town’s invocation policy.

Marley said at the Tuesday meeting that he decided to continue with the invocation despite his previous comments because some council members said he should do so.

“Unfortunately, the content of the invocations offered here in Chino Valley has become the subject of some contention, so we - your Town Council - will deal with it,” Marley said.

Marley argued that the Bill of Rights protects council members’ right to freely worship. He said he feels like the country has lost a number of other freedoms, including the right to assemble and protection against search and seizure, but that he won’t let his right to pray be taken away.

“I can’t speak for the rest of the Council, but I believe it is time to draw a line in the sand, at least for me it is.”

The council voted to make no changes to the current tradition of a member of the council giving an invocation if they wish to do so.

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Information from: The Daily Courier, http://www.dcourier.com

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