FOX News Story Wrongly Suggests Atheist Group Is Angry Over Christian Invocation March 27, 2019

FOX News Story Wrongly Suggests Atheist Group Is Angry Over Christian Invocation

Here’s a clear example of how FOX News distorts reality because its readers and viewers are dumb enough to fall for it.

The Mt. Sterling Village Council in Ohio recently had a bit of an upheaval after three of the six council members resigned in protest over what they said was “Mayor Billy Martin’s leadership and not having their concerns taken seriously.” That left the council without enough members to conduct business, and three replacements were soon appointed.

There have been three meetings since then, and all three have included explicitly Christian prayers at the beginning.

Martin has begun the past few meetings with a member of clergy or a council member leading a Christian prayer.

“I’m determined to have prayer at the opening of each meeting,” he said at an earlier meeting. Longtime observers can’t recall when, if ever, council has had prayer.

At Monday’s meeting, Dortha Ross, associate pastor of Mount Sterling Church of the Nazarene began her prayer, in part, with, “We are thankful that, God, you are our creator, and that you sent your son, Jesus, as our redeemer.” It was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

At the previous meeting, Councilman David Timmons ended his prayer, “In Jesus’ wonderful name, Amen.”

As far as the Freedom From Religion Foundation is concerned, this is clearly a violation of the law. The Supreme Court and subsequent legal rulings have made it clear that invocations are legal as long as people of any and all beliefs have the opportunity to deliver them. As it stands, in Mt. Sterling, it looks like that opportunity is only available to Christians.

That’s why FFRF sent Martin a letter reminding him of the law.

Chris Line, an attorney for the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which promotes the separation of church and state, said the prayers during the meeting are troubling.

“If you’re giving a Christian prayer, and only a Christian prayer, that’s where you really get into problems,” Line said.

Line said the prayers may not rise to the level for the foundation to file a lawsuit, but still are concerning in the way they might conflict with the First Amendment’s assertion that the government will not take action in “an establishment of any religion.”

No lawsuit. Just a warning. All of this makes perfect sense.

But the misleading FOX News headline about this story suggests that FFRF is angry because the invocations mentioned Jesus at all.

Writer Caleb Parke even quotes First Liberty Institute — as if they’re seriously defending Christianity from those evil atheists.

“The practice of opening public meetings with prayer is as old as our country,” Jeremy Dys, a First Liberty attorney, said. “All Americans are free to pray (or not) before public meetings according to the dictates of their consciences.”

None of that is relevant to the matter at hand. Notice how Dys doesn’t address the actual issue, which is that there’s reason to believe Mt. Sterling is blocking all non-Christians from delivering invocations. That’s the very definition of Not Christian Persecution… but you wouldn’t know it if all you read is the FOX headline. Parke buries that quotation from FFRF’s Chris Line in the middle of the story instead of basing the entire article around it, which is what a responsible journalist would have done.

(Screenshot via YouTube)

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