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HOA meeting and prayer that ends with "in Jesus' name"

NonieMarie

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I live in an over 55 HOA community. They have monthly meetings that start with a prayer. I am uncomfortable with the end of it because it is a Christian prayer. The HOA is in Ca and consists of over 1000 homes. That is a lot of residents and I doubt that all are Christians. I am now on an advisory board and need to attend most meetings. Granted, a small percentage of residents attend these meetings but I wonder if someone could file a suit against the HOA. Does anyone know what the law is?
 

BeekeeperBetty

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Before filing a suit, have you thought about just asking them not to do it because it makes you uncomfortable?
 

NonieMarie

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BeekeeperBetty|1454198218|3984360 said:
Before filing a suit, have you thought about just asking them not to do it because it makes you uncomfortable?
I am not thinking of filing a suit. I just wondered if someone could.
 

NonieMarie

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BeekeeperBetty|1454198318|3984362 said:
http://cahoalaw.com/opening-board-meetings-with-prayer/
Thank you! Because we are an over 55 community we get certain tax breaks, I didn't know if that would make a difference. I just think it is wrong to assume that all that attend the meeting are Christians. A more generic prayer would be more appropriate.
My mother has been a born again Christian for many years. At family dinners we all participate and pray a Christian prayer, no matter our individual beliefs but that is because we love our mother, these meeting are business.
 

stracci2000

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I'm curious about this, too.
The company I now work for has their home office in west Texas. Lots of religious folks there, I've noticed.
I have to travel there for quarterly meetings.
The big boss likes to preach a little now and then, and also says grace before food is served at these meetings.
I feel uncomfortable, but I just smile and nod, like everyone else.
 

VRBeauty

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Both houses of the California legislature still open their general meetings with a prayer, so I doubt a HOA in California could be successfully sued for merely having an opening prayer. Here are two daily journals showing opening prayers in the California State Legislature:

ftp://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/senate-journal/sen-journal-0x-20160127-2959.PDF
http://clerk.assembly.ca.gov/sites/clerk.assembly.ca.gov/files/adj011516.pdf

I'm not a lawyer and wouldn't know how to research this question besides google, but here's an article published by the California League of Cities about what seems to be a recent US Supreme Court decision holding that opening prayers in meetings of governmental bodies do not violate the constitution:

https://www.cacities.org/Resources-...ual-Allison-Burns-Legislative-Prayer-(In.aspx

That said, I'm a Christian and although I was raised with a tradition of opening prayers, I cringe when prayers offered at public meetings are specifically Christian in nature, such as ending with "in Jesus' name." The Legislative prayers in the daily journals do not include such references. The California League of Cities article cited some criteria apparently outlined (or implied) in the court decision that would make a prayer within the constitution, one of which is: not discriminating among faiths.

Personally I think it's worth speaking up at your HOA meetings and suggesting (or making a motion, if necessary) that there be guidelines for opening prayers, and that those prayers should not reference or suggest the support of a specific religion.
 

Tacori E-ring

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That would make me uncomfortable too. I would ask if they would consider changing it to something more inclusive.
 

ame

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HOA meeting and prayer that ends with "in Jesus' name"

That would be enough for me to withhold my HOA fees til it changes. I just cannot deal with religion being imposed on others like that. Save it for church or your private home.
 

Gypsy

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Re: HOA meeting and prayer that ends with

ame|1454213415|3984453 said:
That would be enough for me to withhold my HOA fees til it changes. I just cannot deal with religion being imposed on others like that. Save it for church or your private home.

This is me too.
 

sonnyjane

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Re: HOA meeting and prayer that ends with

Gypsy|1454215336|3984465 said:
ame|1454213415|3984453 said:
That would be enough for me to withhold my HOA fees til it changes. I just cannot deal with religion being imposed on others like that. Save it for church or your private home.

This is me too.
Indeed. I'm squirming just thinking about it.
 

OreoRosies86

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Yeah, no. If people want to pray they can do so before or after the meeting on their own time.
 

kenny

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Re: HOA meeting and prayer that ends with

sonnyjane|1454215749|3984467 said:
Gypsy|1454215336|3984465 said:
ame|1454213415|3984453 said:
That would be enough for me to withhold my HOA fees til it changes. I just cannot deal with religion being imposed on others like that. Save it for church or your private home.
This is me too.
Indeed. I'm squirming just thinking about it.
+1 :knockout:

Why can't those people see how arrogant this is?
 

asscherisme

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Re: HOA meeting and prayer that ends with

Gypsy|1454215336|3984465 said:
ame|1454213415|3984453 said:
That would be enough for me to withhold my HOA fees til it changes. I just cannot deal with religion being imposed on others like that. Save it for church or your private home.

This is me too.
I totally agree

edited to add, I totally agree about not being able to deal with others religions being pushed on me and it should be for houses of worship or home but I don't think withholding HOA fees is the answer because they are needed for the community as a whole. Those at the meeting only represent a few but withholding fees affects everyone including those who aren't a the meeting and have no say or idea of whats going on. HOA fees are part of a contract when you buy your home and should be honored.
 

Jambalaya

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Witholding your fees is rather extreme, IMHO, and unfair to all the others in the community. Fees are mandatory but religion-free meetings obviously aren't mandatory for this HOA (or they would be religion-free). If you can withold fees bc the prayers are included, equally others can withold fees bc prayers aren't included. Or people could withold fees because the prayers aren't Zionist or Muslim or Hindu or pagan.

You could ask for them not to be included, or organize a vote on the matter, or start a petition against them, or don't listen to them, or not attend the meetings, or don't take part in the prayers, and check your master condo docs to see if it says anything on this score (for example, perhaps the community founder was religious). Lots of other ways to go apart from witholding fees.

You aren't obliged to pray, so I don't think it's enforcing religion on anyone. You have the free choice not to pray, not to listen, to put your headphones on during the prayers, or not to attend, and there are no negative consequences to refusing to say the prayers; thus you have a truly free choice not to participate.

I guess I don't understand the extreme reactions against some religious matters like this that I read on PS. I was non-religious/agnostic for most of my life and religious people never bothered me. Now, non-religious people don't bother me. Before, I might have rolled my eyes inwardly if I had a host who insisted on grace before eating, but IMO it's not in the same category as people in certain parts of the world being forced into religious behaviors like wearing the veil. I'm sure the HOA meetings don't force you to pray.

I think witholding fees is just communicating that your needs come first. Who's to say that your need not to hear prayers is greater than the need of others to hear those same prayers? Maybe your need should come first, but who decides?

Maybe half the meetings could have prayers and half not.

Some people are religious and some are not, and both vary greatly in degree. I feel a little compromise is called for.

But if many more people in your community want the prayers than don't want them, you're probably a bit screwed, since the workings of democracy dictate that the majority rules. And if this is a majority religious community and you really hate the prayers so very much, you might consider just not attending the meetings, or considering the possibility that the community is just too religious for you.

There have been times in my life when I've been very anti-religion, but even so, I can't remember a few brief prayers bothering me so much. Whatever happened to "people vary"? And let me repeat: I don't think it's enforcing or imposing anything bc you have a free choice not to say the prayers and not to listen to them.

ETA: People who have a strong intolerance of religion expect that intolerance to be tolerated, hence threats not to pay fees if they are not accommodated. So isn't that the same crime as people trying to shove religion down others' throats? It's all intolerance, whatever side of the debate you're on. As I said, I think a little compromise goes a long way. If you really want to attend those meetings and the prayers are brief, you could just reason that they are only words to you, since they have no meaning to someone who is non-religious. And you could extend a little understanding in your heart. Like, "I really hate these prayers but so-and-so who lost their spouse recently might find them very comforting for all I know. I hope that anyone in the room who feels more vulnerable and lonely than I do takes comfort from them, even if personally I want to kick the prayer book's ass into the stratosphere!" :lol:

Huh. Interesting. I just noticed that PS changes the "s" in the word above to a dollar sign. I really wasn't aware that ass was that bad a word, and what if you're talking about a donkey?
 

kenny

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Jambalaya|1454220607|3984491 said:
Whatever happened to "people vary"?
Everyone IS free to vary and to practice their religion in their place of worship and in their homes.

A HOA meeting is a not a private home where only like-minded guests were invited, or a house of worship.

Everyone at a HOA meeting has the right to feel comfortable because, like the workplace, all of us HAVE to show up.

Imagine the Christians politely remaining silent at the beginning and end of every HOA meeting while the Muslims chant Allahu Akbar?
A HOA meeting is just not the time or place for practicing or spreading religion.
 

Jambalaya

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kenny|1454222752|3984507 said:
Jambalaya|1454220607|3984491 said:
Whatever happened to "people vary"?
Everyone IS free to vary and to practice their religion in their place of worship and in their homes.

A HOA meeting is a not a private home where only like-minded guests were invited, or a house of worship.

Everyone at a HOA meeting has the right to feel comfortable because, like the workplace, we HAVE to show up.

Imagine the Christians politely remaining silent at the beginning and end of every HOA meeting while the Muslims chant Allahu Akbar?
A HOA meeting is just not the time or place for religion.
Well, maybe it isn't the time or place for religion, but it seems that the habit of prayers at these meetings is pretty entrenched for this particular community, and you know what I was saying before about the majority vote etc. If it's not entrenched, then the OP probably just has to ask them to stop. And in one room you are likely to get people of all religions and non-religions and some on each side will mind the existence or the lack of prayers more than others. It may not be possible for everyone to feel comfortable.

Our HOA meetings are not mandatory. I'm surprised that people have to show up to them.

If I lived in a community where there were more Muslims than Christians and the majority ruled that they wanted Islamic prayers at the meetings, I would consider myself outvoted and of course I would politely remain silent for their prayers. I don't mind. They are just words and if the majority wanted them, fine. If the majority were atheists and wanted no prayers, fine too.

Where each group is insisting on their rights/needs, the majority vote rules. I think the OP should find out how negotiable the prayers are, and if the majority in her community wants them or not. It sounds like quite a religious community if the HOA meeting has prayers.
 

kenny

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NonieMarie|1454197501|3984354 said:
I live in an over 55 HOA community. They have monthly meetings that start with a prayer. I am uncomfortable with the end of it because it is a Christian prayer. The HOA is in Ca and consists of over 1000 homes. That is a lot of residents and I doubt that all are Christians. I am now on an advisory board and need to attend most meetings. Granted, a small percentage of residents attend these meetings but I wonder if someone could file a suit against the HOA. Does anyone know what the law is?
I'd contact your closest branch of the ACLU.
They'll either know the law or give you a referral to someone who does.

ACLU Northern CA: https://www.aclunc.org

ACLU Souther CA: https://www.aclusocal.org
 

sonnyjane

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Jambalaya|1454223329|3984511 said:
Where each group is insisting on their rights/needs, the majority vote rules. I think the OP should find out how negotiable the prayers are, and if the majority in her community wants them or not.
Sorry, but there are times when it doesn't matter what the majority vote says, you just shouldn't do it. At one time the majority of people thought slavery was ok. At another time, the majority of people thought it was ok that women not be able to vote. Just because that's the opinion of the majority doesn't mean everyone else should sit back twiddling their thumbs contently. I realize I'm comparing slavery and suffrage to an ultimately inconsequential home owner's association, I'm just not a believer that what the majority says makes it right.
 

Jambalaya

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I got the impression the prayers were brief. But maybe they are not brief, and if they are anything more than brief then I can see how that could be very annoying to someone non-religious.

Perhaps someone on the HOA board used to do them and the habit stuck, or perhaps the community is very attached to their HOA prayers. (Lord, give us plush housing and your name on the heating bill :lol: ). I think the OP needs to ask a few questions to find out why these prayers are said and how flexible an issue this is.
 

kenny

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sonnyjane|1454223914|3984513 said:
Jambalaya|1454223329|3984511 said:
Where each group is insisting on their rights/needs, the majority vote rules. I think the OP should find out how negotiable the prayers are, and if the majority in her community wants them or not.
Sorry, but there are times when it doesn't matter what the majority vote says, you just shouldn't do it. At one time the majority of people thought slavery was ok. At another time, the majority of people thought it was ok that women not be able to vote. Just because that's the opinion of the majority doesn't mean everyone else should sit back twiddling their thumbs contently. I realize I'm comparing slavery and suffrage to an ultimately inconsequential home owner's association, I'm just not a believer that what the majority says makes it right.
+1

One of the wonderful things about the US Constitution is it protects minorities from the tyranny of the majority.

Freedom of religion is also freedom from it.
 

Jambalaya

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sonnyjane|1454223914|3984513 said:
Jambalaya|1454223329|3984511 said:
Where each group is insisting on their rights/needs, the majority vote rules. I think the OP should find out how negotiable the prayers are, and if the majority in her community wants them or not.
Sorry, but there are times when it doesn't matter what the majority vote says, you just shouldn't do it. At one time the majority of people thought slavery was ok. At another time, the majority of people thought it was ok that women not be able to vote. Just because that's the opinion of the majority doesn't mean everyone else should sit back twiddling their thumbs contently. I realize I'm comparing slavery and suffrage to an ultimately inconsequential home owner's association, I'm just not a believer that what the majority says makes it right.
But that's how democracy works, isn't it? The majority of people thought slavery was OK until the majority of people didn't. Both times, the majority prevailed. If that basic tenet of democracy is not followed, then the majority who were against slavery could have been stopped by a minority who were still for it. Thankfully we have evolved to the point where issues such as slavery and lack of votes for women are against the law. The reason HOA prayers are not regulated by law (as far as I'm aware) is because it's not as important an issue as slavery and votes for women. In this case, the reason the majority will prevail is because nobody is going to be horrifically suppressed or traumatized by the lack of, or the existence, of some brief prayers.
 

Jambalaya

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The OP should just ask for the prayers to be stopped and see what they say. If most people don't mind one way or the other but a few mind the prayers vociferously, then they probably should be stopped. The issue would be if there are an equal few who vociferously oppose the stopping. It's hard to argue that an HOA meeting is the place for prayers, I see that. I'm guessing it's more a reflection of the spirit of the social grouping in that community.

I don't understand why they're such a big issue unless they're longer than brief. They are just words and you don't have to listen, and there are no negative consequences to not listening. No one is forcing anyone to pray, as far as I'm aware. For most of my life, I would have rolled my eyes inwardly at their saying but I wouldn't have felt oppressed by brief prayers. My attitude back then (and now) was: Some people are religious. Some are not. Takes all sorts.

The strength of feeling against religion that some feel is surprising to me. I've never felt that religious people impose on me. If you're not religious, you just don't go to religious places or hang out with religious people. Very occasionally it crops up, like in these meetings. For me, once it came up when I visited a friend and she was very insistent about me going to church with her on Sunday morning instead of exploring her beautiful town - and that morning was the only chance I had to see the town. I wasn't her religion or really any religion, and I sure didn't appreciate the pressure. When I speak to her, she doesn't like it when I say "Oh, God" as I do frequently, when frustrated. She always says, "He won't help you!" Always, she says that. It's annoying. She is much more stringent in her practice of religion than I am.

So that's the only time in my life I've felt imposed on by someone religious. Apart from that, I felt very free to ignore religion most of my life. I might have visited the occasional home where someone insisted on grace, and I didn't like it but I wasn't going to make a fuss. It didn't affect me. I just rolled my eyes inwardly and moved on. I was non-religious and still never go to church, but I can't really imagine feeling the intense anger against religion that some do. After all, can't prove it one way or the other. I used to just ignore religion and it very rarely came up in my life! Perhaps if you live in a very religious part of the country, it's harder to ignore though.
 

sonnyjane

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Jambalaya|1454224402|3984517 said:
sonnyjane|1454223914|3984513 said:
Jambalaya|1454223329|3984511 said:
Where each group is insisting on their rights/needs, the majority vote rules. I think the OP should find out how negotiable the prayers are, and if the majority in her community wants them or not.
Sorry, but there are times when it doesn't matter what the majority vote says, you just shouldn't do it. At one time the majority of people thought slavery was ok. At another time, the majority of people thought it was ok that women not be able to vote. Just because that's the opinion of the majority doesn't mean everyone else should sit back twiddling their thumbs contently. I realize I'm comparing slavery and suffrage to an ultimately inconsequential home owner's association, I'm just not a believer that what the majority says makes it right.
But that's how democracy works, isn't it? The majority of people thought slavery was OK until the majority of people didn't. Both times, the majority prevailed. If that basic tenet of democracy is not followed, then the majority who were against slavery could have been stopped by a minority who were still for it. Thankfully we have evolved to the point where issues such as slavery and lack of votes for women are against the law. The reason HOA prayers are not regulated by law (as far as I'm aware) is because it's not as important an issue as slavery and votes for women. In this case, the reason the majority will prevail is because nobody is going to be horrifically suppressed or traumatized by the lack of, or the existence, of some brief prayers.
Laws change in either direction. Even the constitution can be changed with enough votes. There's a law against slavery currently. If for some scary reason the majority voted to change that law and reinstate it, it wouldn't mean that slavery was now "right". Democracy is one thing, but human rights should be sacrosanct, and public religious displays should be for home or places of worship only. I really don't want to hear a prayer when I'm coming to discuss the color of a fence, etc.
 

kenny

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Jambalaya|1454225316|3984523 said:
The OP should just ask for the prayers to be stopped and see what they say. If most people don't mind but a few mind vociferously, then they probably should be stopped. The issue would be if there are an equal few who vociferously oppose the stopping. It's hard to argue that an HOA meeting is the place for prayers, I see that. I'm guessing it's more a reflection of the spirit of the social grouping in that community.

I don't understand why they're such a big issue unless they're longer than brief. They are just words and you don't have to listen, and there are no negative consequences to not listening. No one is forcing anyone to pray, as far as I'm aware. For most of my life, I would have rolled my eyes inwardly at their saying but I wouldn't have felt oppressed by brief prayers. Some people are religious. Some are not. Takes all sorts.
You would't feel oppressed.
Fine.
Others do.

When the civil rights of one American are violated it doesn't matter if 318 million Americans don't give a crap.
IMO the OP's civil rights are being violated.
The length of the prayers is not relevant.

Fortunately the US system of government is better than just ... majority rules.

Last year many states had anti gay marriage laws on the books because the majority of voters in those states wanted them.
But the highest court of the land ruled those laws were unconstitutional.
So much for majority rules ... thank God!

Here are the three branches of the US government:

screen_shot_2016-01-30_at_0.png
 

Gypsy

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sonnyjane|1454223914|3984513 said:
Jambalaya|1454223329|3984511 said:
Where each group is insisting on their rights/needs, the majority vote rules. I think the OP should find out how negotiable the prayers are, and if the majority in her community wants them or not.
Sorry, but there are times when it doesn't matter what the majority vote says, you just shouldn't do it. At one time the majority of people thought slavery was ok. At another time, the majority of people thought it was ok that women not be able to vote. Just because that's the opinion of the majority doesn't mean everyone else should sit back twiddling their thumbs contently. I realize I'm comparing slavery and suffrage to an ultimately inconsequential home owner's association, I'm just not a believer that what the majority says makes it right.

And "tradition" is an even worse argument.

I would file a formal complaint about the Christian prayers. Suggest substituting it with a moment of reflection or silence. Or a general prayer for health and good fortune.

And I would circulate that complaint. And see if you can get others to sign off on it.

Then I would wait to see what happens. If after 4 months nothing has happened. I would file another complaint and this time state that you are not going to pay your HOA fees unless and until it changes. With that note being from a lawyer if needed.
 

Jambalaya

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kenny|1454225797|3984529 said:
Jambalaya|1454225316|3984523 said:
The OP should just ask for the prayers to be stopped and see what they say. If most people don't mind but a few mind vociferously, then they probably should be stopped. The issue would be if there are an equal few who vociferously oppose the stopping. It's hard to argue that an HOA meeting is the place for prayers, I see that. I'm guessing it's more a reflection of the spirit of the social grouping in that community.

I don't understand why they're such a big issue unless they're longer than brief. They are just words and you don't have to listen, and there are no negative consequences to not listening. No one is forcing anyone to pray, as far as I'm aware. For most of my life, I would have rolled my eyes inwardly at their saying but I wouldn't have felt oppressed by brief prayers. Some people are religious. Some are not. Takes all sorts.
You would't feel oppressed.
Fine.
Others do.

When the civil rights of one American are violated it doesn't matter if 318 million Americans don't give a crap.
IMO the OP's civil rights are being violated.
The length of the prayers is not relevant.

Fortunately the US system of government is better than just ... majority rules.

Last year many states had anti gay marriage laws on the books because the majority of voters in those states wanted them.
But the highest court of the land ruled those laws were unconstitutional.
So much for majority rules ... thank God!

Here are the three branches of the US government:
Kenny, I meant the majority rules in small matters like HOA prayers, since that's what we're discussing, when no one's human rights are realistically under threat. It hurts no one to sit in the same room as a few brief prayers, even if those prayers are not liked or appreciated. Yeah, they probably shouldn't be at an HOA meeting and hopefully the board would agree to stop them, but if not they are just a few brief prayers and yet lawsuits and refusal to pay fees have been mentioned. That's really intolerant, IMHO.

So, what would you suggest? What would you do in the following situations?

55% for the prayers, 45% against.

45% for the prayers, 55% against.

What would you do, if not majority rule? How do you make everybody happy? I did suggest prayers at half the meetings and half not.
 

kenny

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Jambalaya|1454226450|3984533 said:
kenny|1454225797|3984529 said:
Jambalaya|1454225316|3984523 said:
The OP should just ask for the prayers to be stopped and see what they say. If most people don't mind but a few mind vociferously, then they probably should be stopped. The issue would be if there are an equal few who vociferously oppose the stopping. It's hard to argue that an HOA meeting is the place for prayers, I see that. I'm guessing it's more a reflection of the spirit of the social grouping in that community.

I don't understand why they're such a big issue unless they're longer than brief. They are just words and you don't have to listen, and there are no negative consequences to not listening. No one is forcing anyone to pray, as far as I'm aware. For most of my life, I would have rolled my eyes inwardly at their saying but I wouldn't have felt oppressed by brief prayers. Some people are religious. Some are not. Takes all sorts.
You would't feel oppressed.
Fine.
Others do.

When the civil rights of one American are violated it doesn't matter if 318 million Americans don't give a crap.
IMO the OP's civil rights are being violated.
The length of the prayers is not relevant.

Fortunately the US system of government is better than just ... majority rules.

Last year many states had anti gay marriage laws on the books because the majority of voters in those states wanted them.
But the highest court of the land ruled those laws were unconstitutional.
So much for majority rules ... thank God!

Here are the three branches of the US government:
Kenny, I meant the majority rules in small matters like HOA prayers.
Still, as with our wonderful system of government, we should keep an eye out for the dark side of majority rules.

Every person at a HOA has civil rights.
A HOA meeting is not a church.
 

Jambalaya

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Sorry, I keep posting and then writing more. I wrote more in both my posts above. Yes agree re. dark side of minority rules, but as I wrote above, how would you resolve this in the percentages that I proposed?
 
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