The Freedom From Religion Foundation has persuaded the city of North Miami Beach, Fla., to cease its sponsorship of National Day of Prayer events.
FFRF sent a letter to the Mayor of North Miami Beach on June 26, illuminating the unconstitutionality of the city’s sponsorship of National Day of Prayer events. FFRF became aware of the violations when a concerned citizen reported that each year the City of North Miami Beach sponsors and promotes a National Day of Prayer event. The sponsorship included promotion of the event on the city’s official social media pages and website, which directed citizens to R.S.V.P. to the event through the city’s Division of Public Affairs.
Aside from the inappropriate use of city resources for devotional purposes, FFRF also called attention to the discriminatory nature of the city-sponsored National Day of Prayer events.
“Legal arguments aside, these events are unnecessarily divisive,” wrote FFRF’s Patrick O’Reiley Legal Fellow Christopher Line. “The events send the message that the city not only prefers religion over non-religion, but also Christianity over all other faiths. They alienate non-Christians in North Miami Beach by turning them into political outsiders in their own community.”
In a July 31 letter, the North Miami Beach Mayor’s Office confirmed it would cease further city sponsorship of National Day of Prayer events:
“The city’s intent was not to be divisive nor portray the belief that the City prefers religion over non-religion, or Christianity over all other faiths,” the mayor’s office stated. “Nonetheless, the City is aware of the constitutional limitations regarding its involvement in organized religious activities and the separation of church and state. Therefore, the City of North Beach Miami will refrain from further organization and promotion of the National Day of Prayer events.”
FFRF applauds the city’s commitment to sponsoring secular community events that are welcoming to all citizens.
“Religion in government is innately divisive,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We are very pleased the City of North Miami Beach has agreed to cease sponsoring what should be a private event.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with over 32,000 members across the country, including more than 1,500 members in Florida, and a chapter in central Florida. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.