FFRF halts board prayer in Henrico County (July 10, 2012)

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has halted illegal prayer before Henrico County Board of Supervisor meetings in Henrico, Va.

Henrico County officials decided to drop the 25-year-old tradition on July 10 after the group received a letter of complaint from FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott, as well as an objection from a local concerned citizen.

Joseph P. Rapisarda, the Henrico County Attorney issued a statement: “The Board was beefed on the legal ramifications of having a sectarian prayer. After careful consideration, the Board decided to end the practice of having an opening prayer, effective immediately.”

“The Board compounds the violation when the prayers are to Jesus and/or most of the officiants are Christian or Christian clergy. Sectarian prayers make religious minorities and nonbelievers feel like political outsiders in their own community, and show an unconstitutional governmental preference for Christianity over other faiths and for religion over non-religion,” wrote Elliott in a July 12 letter to Chairman Richard Glover.

Elliott pointed out that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has consistently struck down prayers to Jesus and this would likely be the case in Henrico. Elliott added that county officials are free to pray privately, as long as it’s not on taxpayers’ time and dime.

Freedom From Religion Foundation