Employees at Peach County Senior Citizens Center, Fort Valley, Ga., were regularly leading residents in prayer before meals, playing Baptist hymns on the piano, and reading from the bible to celebrate any event or special day, according to a senior citizen complainant.
On July 26, 2012, FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel wrote a letter to the director of the center explaining that, because it receives federal funds, it is subject to federal law which “is explicit and unequivocal in its prohibition on religious activities. . .” Even though it is a private center, the federal government attaches secular strings to its funding to protect client freedom of conscience.
The center responded on August 9 that “we have reminded staff or our Agency’s position… at all times, our agency intends to fully comply with regulations. . .” The center added that “we have discussed this matter with the participants to educate them that our staff cannot/will not initiate, encourage, or participate in any religious based activity. Any participant that observes staff promoting religion in any way has been made aware of the Agency’s grievance policy. . .”