Va. Senate panel kills bill on prayer at government meetings

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A Virginia Senate committee has narrowly rejected a measure to authorize public prayers at government meetings. Del. Richard Bell, a Staunton Republican, said his bill was intended to clear up confusion among state and local government bodies about whether they can legally open their meetings with prayer. Passed by the House of Delegates 69-30 earlier this month, the measure would have allowed invocations to be given either by a chaplain chosen by the public body or by speakers selected from a list of established religious congregations in the community. The bill was supported by the conservative Family Foundation of Virginia but opposed by Baptist and Jewish groups and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. The Senate General Laws and Technology Committee killed the measure on an 8-7 vote Monday.

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