The Memphis (Tennessee) City Council allows a “Chaplain of the Day” to open sessions with prayer. They also give clergy a goodie bag.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter requesting the council to stop that practice, and a lawsuit is forthcoming if they don’t. You can read that letter along with some of the very-Christian prayers here (PDF).
A local news station ran a piece about the issue:
The highlights of the video include City Council Chairman Harold Collins saying:
“I’m not sure they understand any particular concept or belief or faith.”
They understand it pretty damn well… FFRF co-president Dan Barker used to be a fundamentalist Christian himself. They know why people believe and they have the added bonus of knowing why none of it makes sense.
The money quotation, though, comes from FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor in response to Collins:
“Many of us are from a Christian background, therefore we use our faith and the lessons we have learned and been taught to make some decisions,” [says Collins.]
“That is bogus,” says Gaylor. “If you can’t make a decision about sewers and liquor licenses without ‘Divine guidance’ then what are you doing on the city council? The city is actively promoting Christianity. It’s not only favoring religion over non-religion, which is barred by our Constitution, but one religion over another.”
I’d like to know what prayer they say before issuing those liquor licenses…
Collins has said he will respond in writing by Tuesday.
People ask why they should support atheist organizations. This is why. It’s a powerful moment when a group’s staff attorney can instill the fear of no-god in a city or state government 🙂 FFRF has the Constitution on its side. Memphis has a god. I’ll take FFRF every time.
(Thanks to Benjamin for the link!)