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Phoenix City Council votes to reinstate prayer after Satanic church controversy

Republican Majority Leader Steve Montenegro, right, bows his head as the Rev. Mark Mucklow, left, gives the invocation at the beginning of the Arizona House of Representatives session in Phoenix on Thursday, March 3, 2016. Mucklow was called on after Montenegro rejected the prayer delivered by Democratic Rep. Juan Mendez because he didn't invoke God's name. Mendez is an atheist. (AP Photo/ Bob Christie)

PHOENIX — Members of the Phoenix City Council will get the opportunity to open their meetings with prayer again after the practice was reinstated on Wednesday.

City council members voted 6-2 to reinstate opening prayer at its meetings after replacing the act with a moment of silence in February.

Prayer at city council meetings has been a hot topic since January, when a local Satanic church was approved to give the opening invocation at a February meeting.

Councilmembers quickly reacted to the approval, working hard and fast to block the move and change the way the legislature holds its prayers.

After a drawn-out and controversial debate, the opening prayer was replaced with a moment of silence, voiding the Satanic Temple of Tucson’s prayer request.

In a statement, Center for Arizona Policy President Cathy Herrod said continuing the “cherished tradition” is the right decision for Phoenix residents.

“Prayer has been a part of the legislative process throughout our nation’s and our state’s history,” the statement read. “The first day of Arizona’s Constitutional Convention in 1910 was opened with prayer and our state legislature has opened their sessions with prayer since Arizona became a state over 100 years ago.”

It was not immediately known whether the Satanic Temple would reapply to give a prayer at a Phoenix City Council meeting. The group is planned to give a prayer at a Scottsdale City Council meeting in April.

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