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Prayer at HOA meetings


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Can the opening of a Home Owners Association meeting,in Florida, begin with a prayer?

Nothing in our By-Laws state anything about prayers. HOA Boards initial response is "No", do to the"Separation of Church and State".

The HOA is incorporated in the state of Florida. This being the case it is a "business", not a government agency.

Because of this fact I beieve that "Separation of Church and State" does not apply. Nothing in the US consitution addresses anything about "Separation of Church and Business".

With the board being negitive about bringing this up, how do I get this on the floor for debate and a vote at a General Membership Meeting?

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This RONR Board cannot do much of anything with your constitutional question but you can make a motion, at the next general membership meeting, to "outlaw" (or some less loaded phrase) prayers at all metings of the HoA. Just be sure you have lots of friends at the meeting who agree with you and are willing to vote on your side.

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This RONR Board cannot do much of anything with your constitutional question but you can make a motion, at the next general membership meeting, to "outlaw" (or some less loaded phrase) prayers at all metings of the HoA. Just be sure you have lots of friends at the meeting who agree with you and are willing to vote on your side.

I believe the original poster was on the other side of the question -- thus the motion would perhaps be to establish a rule requiring an opening prayer at meetings of the HOA.

Would such a rule actually be a special rule of order, since it affects the order of business? Or perhaps not, if the prayer is to be made before the meeting is called to order...

edited to add:

In my response above I am not saying anything about the propriety (legal, constitutional, whatever) of such a rule. Personally, if I belonged to a business association, I would be dubious about the right of the association to impose an opening prayer on me as a member, no matter how much of a majority vote the prayer requirement might have received. I don't think that is a RONR question, however.

Edited by Trina
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Standing Rule certainly, but probably not a "Special Rule of Order".

Unless the members felt put-upon at having to participate in a prayer session -- or be denied the opportunity to do so, depending -- and their feelings spilled over into their parliamentary behavour at the meeting.

But the (I'll assume) mandated prayer would have to take place in the meeting, otherwise the Standing Rule, or Special Rule certainly, would be meaningless.

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Can the opening of a Home Owners Association meeting,in Florida, begin with a prayer?

Nothing in our By-Laws state anything about prayers. HOA Boards initial response is "No", do to

Nothing in RONR prevents it.

With the board being negitive about bringing this up, how do I get this on the floor for debate and a vote at a General Membership Meeting?

Make a motion to do so.

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John, I'll bet special rule of order. Not that I like it.

Yeah, upon reflection, I'll agree (with both your points).

Since an "opening prayer" rule pre-sets an agenda item, it certainly pertains to "the orderly transaction of business" at a meeting.

Whenther it actually accomplishes any "business" is a matter yet to be demonstrated.

A reminder to the original poster (OP): Since this potential rule is a "Special Rule of Order" its adoption will require a previous notice and an 2/3 vote for adoption (or a majority of the entire membership) -RONR p. 35.

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Guest Edgar

Can the opening of a Home Owners Association meeting,in Florida, begin with a prayer?

In the absence of a quorum, you might be able to pray for more members to show up. See p.347.

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A reminder to the original poster (OP): Since this potential rule is a "Special Rule of Order" its adoption will require a previous notice and an 2/3 vote for adoption (or a majority of the entire membership) -RONR p. 35.

Which also leads to another question is would enough members support this? If members are happy with it, then members may not want to change it.

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Guest Edgar

Wouldn't that be an incidental motion? Seems to fit with Section 33, Requests and Inquiries.

I saw it more as members whispering among themselves without disturbing the assembly, per p.394.

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"OPTIONAL HEADINGS. In addition to the standard order of business as just described, regular meetings of organizations sometimes include proceedings in the categories listed below, which may be regarded as optional in the order of business prescribed by this book.

After the call to order and before the reading of the minutes, the next two headings may be included:

Opening Ceremonies or Exercises. Opening ceremonies immediately after the meeting is called to order may include the Invocation (which, if offered, should always be placed first), the singing of the National Anthem, the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, a ritual briefly recalling the objects or ideals of the organization, or the like.

Roll Call. . . . "

--RONR, 11th edition, page 360, line 25 to page 361, line 3 (emphasis in original)

(For those who don't know, an Invocation is a type of prayer. If you have further questions about this, please ask the chaplain [page 462, lines 16-20]. With any luck, he may even toss in a benediction at no extra charge.)

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Opening ceremonies immediately after the meeting is called to order may include the Invocation (which, if offered, should always be placed first) . . .

I'm sure the priority given to the invocation stems from General Robert's 19th-Century Baptist upbringing. There is certainly no rational reason for putting it first (let alone including it at all) and perhaps some future edition of RONR (the 21st?) will either omit all reference to prayer or, at least, leave it up to each organization how to prioritize it.

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I'm sure the priority given to the invocation stems from General Robert's 19th-Century Baptist upbringing. There is certainly no rational reason for putting it first

Certainly it's rational, when one intends to invoke, to do such invoking up front.

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I'm sure the priority given to the invocation stems from General Robert's 19th-Century Baptist upbringing. There is certainly no rational reason for putting it first (let alone including it at all) and perhaps some future edition of RONR (the 21st?) will either omit all reference to prayer or, at least, leave it up to each organization how to prioritize it.

In this respect, future editions of RONR will remain steady as a rock.

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