Indio Councilman Michael Wilson took to Facebook earlier this month expressing disappointment over Mayor Lupe Ramos Watson’s unilateral decision to do away with invocations before city council meetings.
“The appropriate process should have been to discuss it with the council and then make a decision,” Wilson said.
Wilson says invocations are a long-standing tradition with the council. They are delivered after roll call by a local religious leader.
“It’s a prayer, it’s praying for guidance for the council members and the staff and the decision making process,” Wilson said.
But Mayor Ramos Watson, who is Catholic, says invocations exclude members of the community who don’t pray or share the same beliefs.
“I believe prayer is a personal and private practice,” she said. “I don’t practice open prayer.”
“We’re taking God and our creator out of everything publicly and that’s just not my belief,” Wilson said.
The decision has sparked passion from local residents on both sides of the debate ahead of the next council meeting.
“That’s her opinion. But prayer within a community is important because it shows faith,” said Mary Wagner of Indio.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Edwin Baltierra who studied at College of the Desert in Indio. “Because everyone has different opinions, everyone has different leaders and religions.”
The issue will be brought before the council during the next meeting, on Wednesday, February 4.