Monday, April 04, 2016

Atheists: Terror-victims Prayer Unconstitutional

Immediately after Shelby Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis, a metro Detroit, Michigan politician, posted a prayer for the victims of the Brussels terrorist attack on his personal Facebook page, local atheists wrote that an American citizen who holds a public position has no right to pray in public, including online.
"Mighty God, Shine your radiance into every corner of this dark and fallen world. Send your angel armies into Brussels, and heal the land. Hear the prayers of those who call to you, calm them with Your peace, and soothe the souls of those who lost loved ones in this attack. Amen. . . . God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."
-- Rick Stathakis' initial Facebook post

"My position of Township Supervisor does not preclude me from expressing my Christian beliefs just as it would not preclude you from expressing your views if you were elected to office. I am not using my office or standing in the community to make everyone or even anyone Christian. I am simply offering support for the victims. My hope is that this is a conversation between adults, who are presumptively not susceptible to religious indoctrination, who may freely enter and leave the conversation without comment and for any number of reasons. . . . Through two successful campaigns for office I have never made a secret of my Christian faith and my love of prayer. My faith and prayer have helped me through many challenges during public service."
-- Rick Stathakis' Facebook post responding to critics
For background, read South Dakota Atheists Complain of Prayer After Murder-Suicide

Click headlines below to read previous articles:

California Mayor Calls City Prayer Vigil to Seek Solutions

Mississippi Police Chief Thanks God at City Prayer Meetings

Georgia Sheriff's Christmas Sign Peeves Atheists

Louisiana Sheriff Defies ACLU with Fourth of July Prayer

Arizona Town Council Prays to Jesus, Rabbi Fumes

Texas Mayor Declares 'Year of the Bible'

Texas School Supt. Tells Anti-prayer Atheists to Go Fly a Kite

-- From "Politician's prayer for Belgium on Facebook draws fire" by Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press 3/24/16

His critics note that his Facebook page makes clear he is a government official, and they want him to keep God and prayer out of politics. Stathakis, who has stirred controversy in the past by having prayer before public meetings, isn’t budging, arguing there’s nothing unlawful or unethical about praying for terrorism victims.

So far, the post has gotten 148 likes, 12 shares and 30 comments -- the longest ones from a handful of critics who pounced on Stathakis for expressing his religious views.

“As a government official, it is unconstitutional for you to use your official position to promote the establishment of faith. It violates the most basic legal principles of the United States of America. In addition to being unconstitutional, it is highly offensive to your constituents. Please remove all religious references from government materials and keep your faith to yourself,” wrote one Facebook user, Rafael Saakyan.

Stathakis vowed to continue expressing his religious beliefs, and called his critics “misguided.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Township Supervisor Sparks Controversy With Prayer For Belgium Post On Facebook" posted at WWJ-AM950 CBS News Detroit, MI 3/24/16

“It’s my webpage. It’s my personal webpage,” Stathakis told WWJ’s Chrystal Knight. “And what’s really sad is it’s not about me, it’s about the people in Brussels. It was just a simple prayer asking God to be at their side, and all of a sudden now it’s become pointed at me.”

“I really don’t understand the uproar. I mean, it’s not the first prayer that I’ve had on my Facebook, it’s one of many,” he said. “And actually, we’ve been praying here in Shelby Township before all of our board meeting since I’ve been in office, November 2008.”

Despite all the negativity, Stathakis says he’s encouraged by the support he’s received and he feels those who oppose him are in the minority — and he plans to keep on praying.

“The First Amendment makes a very specific point to protect a private citizen’s freedom of speech. I am a private citizen as well,” he said. “My position as Shelby Township supervisor, I believe, does not preclude me from expressing my Christian beliefs.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Shelby Township supervisor’s prayer post draws criticism, support" by Sean Delaney, The Source News (Macomb County, MI) 3/28/16

“As I state on my page, there is no secret in Shelby Township that I am an ardent Christian with a deep love of Christ and prayer,” Stathakis said. “Whether it is our invocation prior to each Shelby Township Board of Trustees meeting or our community’s role in founding the North Macomb National Day of Prayer observance, I will not shy away from expressing my Christian values, as they are as much a part of me as my love for the United States of America and Shelby Township.”

The First Amendment prohibits Congress from passing any law “respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Shelby Township Attorney Rob Huth [argues] that the prayer offered by Stathakis on his personal Facebook page “does not violate any provision of the Constitution.”

“(Stathakis) did not give up his right to pray for others just because he earned the title of supervisor,” Huth wrote in an email. “Frankly, as a Shelby Township resident I’ve enjoyed watching him stand up to those that don’t understand the law on this issue.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

Also read Supreme Court Justice Scalia Said Government Should Favor God of the Bible