Chattanooga, TN – “There is no reason to stop prayer before public meetings, since such prayer is constitutional,” Liberty Counsel told the Hamilton County Commission last week.
Following an intimidating letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), Liberty Counsel offered the commission pro-bono legal advice and representation if the commission takes action in accordance with the advice.
Prayer prior to the opening of legislative bodies is a tradition dating back to the First Continental Congress. Modern courts have upheld prayer before local public meetings so long as the governmental body does not mandate that prayers be given in a specific way – which is what FFRF would require. Individuals who pray may speak their own words and ideas, and no government censorship or self-censorship can be a prerequisite to giving an invocation.
“To say that a voluntary prayer asking for Divine wisdom and guidance before a county, municipal, or school board meeting is somehow establishing a religion is absurd,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Absurd is what we have come to expect from the ‘Free Thinkers,’ as they like to call themselves. It is obvious that the Freedom From Religion Foundation needs some of that Divine wisdom and guidance,” he concluded.
Liberty Counsel is a national public interest law firm specializing in constitutional law, particularly free speech, religious freedom and church-state matters. With offices in Florida, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Jerusalem, Israel along with hundreds of affiliate attorneys across the nation, we are opposed to overreaching efforts to excise religion from the public square contrary to Supreme Court precedent.