Local FFRF members cinch a victory to halt prayer by Mich. county board

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and its members in Michigan have persuaded a county board to reverse its prayer policy and halt governmental prayer.

After multiple concerned area residents reported the Leelanau County Board was starting to implement prayers to open its meetings, FFRF contacted the board in September, urging it to honor the constitutional principle of separation between religion and government.

“Prayer at government meetings is unnecessary, inappropriate, and divisive,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line wrote Leelanau County Board of Commission Chair William J. Bunek. “Board members are free to pray privately or to worship on their own time in their own way. They do not need to worship on taxpayers’ time.”

FFRF pointed out that 30 percent of Leelanau County residents identify as religiously unaffiliated, and they and other non-Christians are made to feel like outsiders when their local government body starts with a coercive and exclusionary religious ritual.

Although FFRF received an initially discouraging response from the county, local activists attended meetings to voice their objection and changed the board’s mind. On Jan 18, the county board voted 5 to 2 to change the prayer to a moment of silence.

“And can I say ‘Amen’ to that?” quips FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We commend the hard work of our local activists who fought for inclusivity and the wisdom of the Leelanau County Board for listening.”

FFRF is a national nonprofit organization with more than 35,000 members across the country, including more than 800 members in Michigan. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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