Judge allowing prayer in the courtroom sparks controversy

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Judge allows invocation before court, but some complain it's unconstitutional

A judge is allowing invocation before court, but some say it's "unconstitutional."

Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack has presided over thousands of cases from his Willis courtroom in Montgomery County. He starts each day with an opening ceremony that includes a chaplain offering an invocation.

"It solemnizes the event and it creates a sense of reconciliation," said Judge Mack.

However, the Freedom From Religion Foundation claims two people have come forward to complain - a citizen and an attorney, according to staff attorney, Sam Grover.

"A lot of these attorneys have repeat business before Judge Mack, and not standing up and participating in this prayer practice could have serious consequences for their livelihood,"said Grover from the Foundation's Wisconsin-based offices.

Multiple signs are posted outside the court, informing that an "opening ceremony includes a brief invocation" and that they are "not required to be present."

"I cannot control people being offended and I think a lot of problems in our society today is we're worried about political correctness," said Judge Mack.

Attorney, Chelsey Youman, of the First Liberty Institute spoke on Mack's behalf.

"He is following in the footsteps and example of our United States Supreme Court, the Texas Supreme Court, and both our federal and state legislature, who also have a brief invocation at the beginning of their session," said Youman.

An opinion this week from the Texas Attorney General supports the judge, but the Foundation finds it politically-motivated, telling us too that the Constitution protects minority religions and non-religious individuals from this type of event.

"The goal would be to have Judge Mack act neutrally toward religion by not having Christian prayers open each of his court sessions," said Grover

Judge Mack says those volunteer chaplains come from various religious backgrounds. On the opposite side, the Foundation says it is now considering a lawsuit, but one of those offended individuals would have to be willing to step forward to file suit.
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