Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Atheists' Prayer Threat Rejected by Municipalities

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is on a rampage threatening city councils to stop praying to God and "in the name of Jesus Christ," but residents and officials of the South Carolina cities of Woodruff, Aiken, and Spartanburg are defiantly refusing to deny their "Lord and Savior."

-- From "Backers show up in force to Aiken prayer rally" by Julia Sellers, South Carolina Bureau Chief, The Augusta Chronicle 8/10/10

Christians spilled into The Alley and lobby of the Aiken municipal building Monday night after showing up in force to support keeping prayer public in government meetings.

The crowd was estimated between 500 and 700 people, with passers-by drifting among the masses in The Alley to see what was happening.

Lakeside Baptist Church, of Bath, played host to the rally. The city had received an eight-page letter in June from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Madison, Wis., labeling the city's prayer unnecessary at a secular meeting

The group said Aiken City Council also violates a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against government-sponsored prayers that are sectarian, denominational and invoke a particular faith or deity.

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From "SC City Council Affirms Prayer Policy After Warning From Anti-Religion Group" by Adam Cassandra, CNSNews.com 8/10/10

After being warned by an anti-religion group that praying before city council meetings was unconstitutional, the Woodruff, S.C. City Council partnered with a Christian legal group to adopt a new city policy approving prayer before council meetings.

“As long as I’m here, and I think as long as these people who were elected sit in front of you, we’re gonna’ open every meeting we have with prayer,” Woodruff Mayor Brad Burnett said at a city council meeting in June. “It makes no difference whether you appreciate that or don’t appreciate that. We’re gonna’ open our meetings with prayer.”

“America’s founders opened public meetings with prayer, and public officials today should be able to do the same,” Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) senior legal counsel Brett Harvey said in a statement on Friday. “We were happy to assist the city of Woodruff with a prayer policy that can be followed with confidence.”

“The citizens of Woodruff and the council members themselves can organize and pray and express themselves and worship in ways that they see fit,” FFRF staff attorney Patrick Elliott told CNSNews.com. “We just think that the best policy is for government meetings and government business to refrain from taking on divine matters, and should focus on city matters.”

A complaint submitted on the FFRF Web site alleges that council member Mattie Norman invoked the name of Jesus Christ several times in a prayer. The FFRF also asked the Woodruff City Council to discontinue prayer at council meetings, and “immediately remove the Latin cross and word ‘church’ from its official city seal.”

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Also read, Jesus OK: Fed. Judge Rules Against Atheists