FFRF condemns Mississippi governor’s sectarian religious promotion

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FFRF is denouncing Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant for promoting two religious events.

A concerned local FFRF member reported that while acting in his official capacity as governor, Bryant recorded a promotional video for a “pastors and leadership summit” that was held on Oct. 4 and a sectarian religious event next April.

The video was “an invitation” for Mississippi residents to participate in two events in the state organized by PULSE, which Bryant praised as the largest student-led evangelical movement in the world.

“Our statewide faith event is on the 27th of April. So come, we want all of the churches, we pray that all of the churches and all of the denominations will come together for that one special evening, the encouraging messages,” Bryant said in the video. “And we will be there doing God’s work here in Jackson, Mississippi.”

Bryant went on to invite citizens to a planning session held on Oct. 4.

“Let’s start a movement here that will go not only across Mississippi, but across the nation, to make again this One Nation, Under God, beginning here in Jackson, Mississippi,” Bryant continued.

It is a fundamental constitutional principle that our government may not in any way promote, advance or otherwise endorse religion. State-sponsored and state-endorsed events must be entirely secular in nature, FFRF reminds the governor.

“The freedom of conscience enshrined in the First Amendment means that the government has no business telling citizens which god, if any, to believe in, or which holy book to read and propagate,” writes FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne in his letter to the governor. “Citizens in every state of this nation are free to believe, or disbelieve, whatever they like when it comes to matters of religion, and our Founders wisely ensured that the government would not take sides on matters of religious belief.”

FFRF is asking the governor to withdraw his endorsement for the April 27, 2019, religious event, including the promotional video and is requesting public records having to do with religious events publically supported by his office.

“Governor Bryant’s promotion of these religious events is an egregious violation of the constitutional rights of the citizens he serves,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The governor’s office has no business advancing a Christian mission.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 32,000 members across the country, including in Mississippi. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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