FFRF legal complaint adds secular to Sharpton

FFRF, which has nearly 500 Virginia members, was ably represented by Dr. Tiffany Green at Norfolk State University’s first-ever Founder’s Day prayer breakfast Sept. 18. The Rev. Al Sharpton was keynote speaker for the sold-out event celebrating the historically black public university’s 80th anniversary.

The breakfast theme was “Forging Onward through Prayer, Education and Service,” with additional prayer and “reconciliation by our Faith Partners Network of religious leaders.” Tickets were sold through the university.

Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert sent a letter of complaint Sept. 3, noting its “illegal and inappropriate for a public university to host, organize, support, or otherwise promote a patently religious event like a prayer breakfast.”

NSU responded quickly and dropped the word “prayer” from the event’s name and theme. More importantly, NSU invited Green to join the panel of interfaith leaders so that secular humanism was represented. Green, assistant professor in Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine, is also vice president of the Richmond Reason and Naturalism Association and a certified secular celebrant through the Center For Inquiry.

Freedom From Religion Foundation