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Arizona advocacy group calls upon public officials to make change in prayer policies

A member of the community prays before the start of the Kalamazoo Community Prayer Service at Centerpoint Church in Kalamazoo, Mich., Sunday, Feb 21, 2016. (Andraya Croft/Detroit Free Press via AP)

PHOENIX — An Arizona advocacy group has called upon state political figures to adopt new regulations related to prayer at public meetings.

The Secular Coalition for Arizona has sent letters to state politicians, pushing for the adoption of new, more inclusive prayer policies in public meetings.

The movement comes shortly after Phoenix City Council members voted to reinstate prayer in its meetings, overriding a ban that replaced the invocation with a moment of silence.

Tory Anderson with the coalition said government officials are letting down part of the population who do not identify as religious.

“When government bodies lend their power and prestige to organized religion, it essentially amounts to an endorsement that excludes 27 percent of the population that don’t identify with organized religion,” she said.

Anderson said the group is calling upon officials to instate policies that would either include atheists and other religious minorities or discontinue the practice for good.

Arizona has been in the spotlight for public prayer recently, after a local Satanic organization was slated to give a prayer at a Phoenix City Council meeting last month.

Council members voted to replace spoken prayer with a moment of silence before the group could lead their prayer, but reinstated the policy at a meeting last week.

The group, the Satanic Temple of Tucson, has since been scheduled to deliver the invocation at an upcoming Scottsdale City Council meeting.

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