A Southeast Texas city council thumbed its nose at an atheist organization after it told the city to stop leading its meetings with prayer.
The Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the mayor and city council of League City voicing its objection to the fact that “League City Council (“Council”) meetings open with prayer.”
It’s a scene played out every day across America. A town hall or county commission meeting is called t order, and begins with a short non-denominational prayer followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
It’s a tradition, however, that the Freedom From Religion Foundation would like to see stopped.
Its letter, drafted by Elizabeth Cavell, the group’s staff attorney, went on to state that, in her opinion, “Government prayers exclude a significant portion of Americans from the democratic process, are of dubious legality, and are a repudiation of our secular history. The best solution is for Council to stop these prayers altogether.”
Although Cavell included several court decisions to support her claims, she admitted none were directly on point.
After receiving it, League City Mayor Tim Paulson informed the Houston Chronicle that it wasn’t about to change their meeting format.
“The city has been doing this since 1962, and nobody has ever complained, to my knowledge,” said the mayor. “It’s not just my stance. I have the full support of those on the city council, too.”
The went on to note that the council has a rotating list of pastors and laymen that offer prayer at each meeting.
“It’s not a waste of taxpayers’ money. Everybody supports the prayer. It’s non-denominational in content,” he said.
“This is what our forefathers did, too,” he adds, mentioning that the first Continental Congress even prayed before their official business.
Indeed, that tradition continues to this day. Congress maintains an Office of the Chaplain, currently headed by Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, a Jesuit priest, who offers opening prayers.