Re "Putting prayer in its place," Letters, Nov. 7
Christians — non-denominational evangelicals, most mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics — and many other non-Christians believe God or another deity sees all, hears all and knows the past, present and future. God knows everything humans have done, are doing and will do.
Publicly spoken prayer is not needed for these groups to "invoke their deity." God needs no summons, if they believe what they say they do. In fact, they can't un-invoke God's presence.
Thus, in secular settings, publicly spoken prayer's purpose may be to alert attendees that God is in the room and is a mind-reader. If that's the case, a simple non-prayer statement would be refreshing, such as this:
"Before we begin, a reminder that many people believe God or another deity is hearing everything that's said or thought in this room, and said deities may influence comments and decisions made tonight. You've been alerted. City Council is now in session."