As the controversy continues over local ministers offering prayers at the beginning of Lodi City Council meetings, the question has arisen about non-Christians being invited to participate.
In recent years, invocations at Council meetings have been dominated by Christian pastors.
No one from the Buddhist Church of Lodi has participated.
Or the Lodi Muslim Mosque.
Or the Deshmesh Darbar Sikh Temple.
Or Lodi Rabbi Raphael Pazo.
It's not that non-Christian faiths haven't been invited. City Clerk Randi Johl said that she mails letters to all religious leaders in Lodi at the beginning of each year. Then it's up to the pastor to respond and set up a date with Johl for him or her to give the invocation.
City spokesman Jeff Hood said that Natalie Reyes, representing the Baha'i faith, gave an invocation several times in the late 1990s and early years of this decade.
Former Lodi Muslim Mosque President Mohammad Shoaib and Sikh temple board Secretary BalBahadur Paul say they aren't aware of any invitations from the city. Paul said that if the temple was invited, it would definitely come to his attention. Both said their houses of worship would participate if invited.
"Why not? Absolutely," Paul said. "Everybody is created equal."
New Lodi Muslim Mosque President Khan Afsar added, "We are willing - anywhere, anyplace, anytime."
Pazo, the Jewish rabbi from Lodi, declined to participate.
"I've been asked, and I've refused," Pazo said. "The business being transacted there has nothing to do with any church. It's inappropriate. It is not related to God."
The Rev. Harry Gyoko Bridge, minister of the Lodi Buddhist church from 2006 until he was transferred to Oakland in January, said he declined because Lodi churches don't practice interfaith dialogue very much.
"I'm sure I could have said something appropriate, like about being mindful of our motivations and striving to act with wisdom and compassion," Bridge said in an e-mail.
"Perhaps if there were more interfaith dialogue already occurring in the religious community, I would have felt more comfortable participating," Bridge said. "I understand that there used to be, but that it stopped at some point several years before I arrived."
The Lodi Buddhist Church hasn't had a minister since Bridge left. Church President Gordon Nitta said it would be up to the new minister whether to offer a prayer at City Council meetings.
Paul, from the Sikh temple, suggested that an interfaith board be established in the community so that events can be scheduled where representatives from different faiths can discuss their religion with each other.
Lodi has a ministerial association, but it is limited to Christian pastors, according to its president, Kevin Suess.