Riverhead could drop prayer before Town Board meetings

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RIVERHEAD -

Riverhead may put an end to the usual prayer that opens its Town Board meetings.

"Graces and loving God in this busy season we settle our hearts and give you thanks," goes the prayer.

The board first voted to adopt the policy in March 2015 under now-outgoing Town Supervisor Sean Walter. On Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to keep that policy in place.

Many residents who spoke with News 12 Long Island said the prayer is positive. Town Councilman John Dunleavy voted in favor of the policy but says it's up to the presiding supervisor and the board to decide whether to keep it.

But Town Supervisor-elect Laura Jens-Smith says a public meeting is no place for prayer.

"I think it's up to the individual how they choose to celebrate their religion and how they talk to God, and it shouldn't be in a public forum," she says.

Some residents, like Herbert Voss, agree.

"Probably ain't a bad thing, but...I see no need for it," he says.

Jens-Smith says that once she's in office, she will have a conversation with her board about whether to rescind the resolution.

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