CARLSBAD, CA — The words “Jesus Christ” used at the conclusion of a Carlsbad City Councilman’s opening prayer sparked a citizen’s outburst at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.
City Councilman and local dentist Dr. Mark Packard gave the invocation at Tuesday night’s meeting after the minister scheduled didn’t show. 10 News reported that Mayor Matt Hall asked Packard to give the prayer.
Packard offered up a prayer of gratitude and for a peaceful and respectful meeting. After the councilman invoked the name “Jesus Christ” a woman in the audience responded, seeming to indicate she was offended. As a video of the event shows, the pledge of allegiance quickly followed. After it concluded she yelled out, “Separation of church and state Dr. Packard! Get it right from the start of the meeting” in apparent response to the use of “Jesus” in Packard’s prayer.
The Supreme Court has determined that saying a prayer is not prohibited at city council meetings. Team 10 reported that last year the Supreme Court determined prayer during council meetings is permitted, “as long as it doesn’t look to condemn or convert members of other faiths or non-believers.”
“Do not take offense when none is intended,” Mayor Matt Hall said, trying to calm the woman. Hall declared a 10-minute recess to ease tensions. After Hall’s announcement there was continued disruption.
Listen to me, this is how we’re going to start if you’re going to be respectful. If not, it’s going to be a very long night. So let’s all take a 10 minute break and let’s all think about who we are.
Dr. Packard later told 10 News in an interview that he’s a Christian first. “I was taught that we close our petitions to God in the name of Jesus Christ and that’s how I pray.”
Still, following the incident, Packard says he came down from his seat and apologized to the woman for any offense she may have taken.
Packard and the woman’s accounts of the story disagree, however, over whether she accepted the apology or not. The woman told 10 News that she did accept the apology. Packard said she did not.
Packard said in the interview, “I like that word civility, of treating each other with respect and understanding and that’s been the Carlsbad way for a long time.”
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