Cleveland City Council leans on Jesus for guidance, but a watchdog group says that’s not fair to the countless other deities waiting to pitch in some cosmic love at city meetings.

The council’s practice of inviting Christian pastors to open meetings with prayer is unconstitutional, says Washington D.C.-based Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. The group has tracked council since January 2007 and says city leaders repeatedly begin their sessions with Christian prayers that overwhelmingly “invoke the name of Jesus as the Savior,” according to a letter sent to council this week (PDF).

“Cleveland officials are clearly endorsing Christianity through their actions,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, in a statement. “They appear to be knowingly violating the law, and it’s time for them to stop.”

AU says it may sue the city, which it says has ignored or dismissed two previous requests for council to adopt a policy of nonsectarian prayer. Council could at least invite a more varied group of prayer-givers to perform invocations, the group says.

Besides, it’s not as if Jesus has helped them make wise decisions. — Damian Guevara

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