There are more legal challenges to prayer in the United States than ever before, says Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist organization whose business is booming as Americans increasingly tackle church vs. state issues.
-- From "Legal Challenges to Prayer on the Rise" By Lauren Green, FoxNews.com 7/23/10
Arizona school children are told they can't pray in front of the Supreme Court building ... Two University of Texas Arlington employees are fired for praying over a co-worker's cubicle after work hours ... In Cranston, R.I., a high school banner causes controversy when a parent complains it contains a prayer and demands that it be removed.
"We've never had more complaints about government prayer," Gaylor says. "We have just hired a second staff attorney in July. It's turned into a cottage industry for our attorneys."
The foundation has had a huge volume of complaints about prayer in the public sector, including numerous issues involving civic and government meetings where sessions have traditionally begun with a prayer or moment of silence.
"Religious liberties are under attack across the country," [Nate Kellum, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund,] says. "My sense is that there's some type of knee-jerk reaction, almost an allergic reaction, if someone sees the expression of religion," he says.
And the bulk of the complaints are directed at Christians, he says.
"There's an overreaching presumption that there's something wrong," he says.
Kelly Shackelford, president of the Liberty Institute, . . . [said,] "There's a hostility, and there are folks who want to change this country and want to engage in some kind of religious cleansing."
Shackelford is also part of the legal team that filed a brief on Thursday defending the National Day of Prayer, which a federal judge ruled unconstitutional in April.
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