Augusta mayor satiates FFRF’s appetite for secular gov’t

The Freedom From Religion Foundation commends the city of Augusta for agreeing to discontinue its involvement in organizing, coordinating and promoting the monthly “Mayor’s Prayer Breakfasts.”

FFRF Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert received a two-page response from the Augusta Law Department on August 2. General counsel Andrew Mackenzie wrote, “Mayor Copenhaver will continue to attend the monthly Prayer Breakfasts, but he has volunteered to allow the organization, coordination and promotion of such breakfasts to be done exclusively by private sponsors.”

The city of August and FFRF have been going back and forth since Markert wrote her first letter of complaint in June. She sent two letters to the city, calling for the mayor’s office to “cease all organization” of the prayer breakfasts.

The open records request revealed that Karyn Nixon, executive assistant to the mayor, was primarily responsible for coordinating the event, which included selecting the churches and sending out all the invitations for this traditionally sectarian event.

Mackenize noted that the mayor and his staff still plan to attend the event, and may do so as long as it’s voluntary and on their own time. The event will no longer be advertised on the city’s website with the misleading title, “Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.” It will be replaced with “Community Prayer Breakfast” to “avoid the appearance of city endorsement.”

“Not only is this a victory for FFRF, it can be counted as a success for the Augusta taxpayer. City officials will now be compelled to pray on their own time and dime,” Gaylor added.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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