Federal judge won't issue temporary halt to prayer

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- U.S. District Judge Sandy Mattice has declined to stop the Hamilton County Commission's prayers before meetings while a lawsuit works its way through the system.

Tommy Coleman and Brandon Jones filed suit in June after commissioners refused their request to hold a moment of silence instead of prayers. They claim the prayers promote Christianity in violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that on Wednesday, Mattice denied a request for a preliminary injunction.

The commission developed a new prayer policy after the suit was filed. Under that policy ministers from all different faiths will be asked to offer prayers.

The plaintiffs call the policy a sham, but Mattice opined that the policy has not been in place long enough to make that determination.

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