Salt Lake County commissioners never expected their policy of opening meetings with prayer to be national news - but there it was in Tuesday's edition of the Wall Street Journal.
The Journal story (in perhaps only a slight exaggeration) suggests the prayers that open commission meetings are usually the highlight of each session.Earlier this year in response to an American Civil Liberties Union complaint that commission meeting prayers were generally offered by LDS Church members, the commission began inviting representatives of other local religious groups to offer invocations.
Various groups responded. In July, the Deseret News published a story about an invocation during which members of a sect led a chant designed to raise the "vibratory rate" in the commission chambers.
That, the sect members said, would allow those present to focus their energy on the body's spiritual center in the middle of the forehead.
Commission Chairman Bart Barker said he was surprised a few weeks later when a Journal reporter, having picked up the Deseret News story from a wire service, phoned to ask him about commission's invocations.
"When the national news media picks up a story from a local paper, you never know how those things will come out," Barker said. "It could have been critical of Utah, but it was reasonably accurate and they treated it as a positive human interest story. Of course, the Deseret News story was better."