Pearland school trustees decided Tuesday to stop using a prayer to open school board meetings but will allow members to take turns starting meetings with opening remarks.
The plan appears to defuse tensions that began two weeks ago when trustee Suzy Roberts asked members to consider doing away with an opening prayer, saying she was concerned the district was vulnerable to lawsuits.
Since raising the issue, Roberts said, she has been accused of being an atheist and of being against the Pledge of Allegiance.
“I’m very sorry that this became such a thorny issue,” Roberts said.
Under the new policy, which passed unanimously, board members can decide individually what to say when beginning meetings, including “inspirational remarks, a moment of silence or a nonproselytizing prayer.”
Several trustees said they will continue to use an opening prayer when it is their turn to begin meetings.
“I’m a Christian and I’ll say a Christian prayer,” trustee Florida Dotson said.
American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Bennett S. Bartlett said he thought the new policy was lawful.