FFRF Asks Fresno Mayor to Stop City Council Prayers

Freedom From Religion Foundation Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert sent a letter on behalf of an area complainant to Mayor Ashley Swearengin, of Fresno, Calif., urging the City Council to discontinue opening meetings with Christian prayers. The sectarian nature of the prayers, which frequently invoke Jesus Christ, puts the city out of compliance with Supreme Court guidelines over government prayer, the Foundation charges.

In her Feb. 8 letter, Markert said the practice of invoking Jesus at official city meetings is illegal, by both federal and California state law.

Hosting Christian prayers at city council meetings "inappropriately alienates any non-Christians and nonbelievers in Fresno. . . . The constitutional rights of citizens to participate in government meetings such as the Council's monthly meetings should not be predicated upon being subjected to Christian-based prayers," Markert said.

The Foundation advised the city to immediately discontinue government prayers to "bring the Council back into compliance with constitutional dictates."

The Foundation, representing 14,600 freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) nationwide, including nearly 2,400 in California, objects to any governmental prayer.

"The Founders of our nation did not pray when they adopted our godless Constitution," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president. "Why do city council members feel the need to pray over liquor licenses, sewers and variances?"

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Send this to a friend