(Photo: Draper City)
Contemporary Christian music star Michael W. Smith has denounced a recent lawsuit threat from a Utah atheist who wants a concert canceled because of possible church-state concerns.
Smith told The Christian Post that he found the lawsuit threat against the Draper City Council "absurd" and the "craziest thing I've ever heard."
"I don't really have an opinion on the person as I've never met him, but I think the idea of a concert being cancelled because one person threatening a lawsuit is absurd," said Smith.
Smith will be having a concert, titled "Wonder, Worship, and Glory" at the Draper Amphitheater of Draper, Utah, on Tuesday, July 24. It is presented by Warrior Worship Ministries.
According to Fox 13, the Draper City Council helped deposit $21,500 for various expenses and also advertised for the event on the city website. Most of the deposit was refunded via ticket sales.
Todd Ouzts (pronounced "Oots"), a resident of Draper, demanded that the city reconsider holding the event over church-state concerns.
"I … sent an inquiry to Draper's Mayor and City Council and I cited Utah's Constitution, which strictly prohibits ANY public money or property from being used for ANY religious purpose," said Ouzts in a statement.
"Draper City's evasive reply confirmed that the event was illegal under state law, as did their quick attempt to add a disclaimer to the ad on their official government website."
Initially, the city council backtracked and decided to cancel the event due to Ouzts' concerns. However, they reconsidered after several complaints were leveled by people planning to attend the Smith concert.
Todd Walker, a member of Draper City Council, told local media that the city is not promoting the event for religious reasons but for commercial ones instead.
"We're not promoting religion or promoting anything like that. It's just a performance and a show," said Walker in a statement published by Fox 13. "We think we've done everything the way it needs to be done and so we'll go forward with the show. People are counting on it. People have bought tickets, it'll be a great performance."
Maridene Hancock, public relations specialist for Draper, told CP that the city council's involvement was not as significant as Ouzts says.
"The Warrior Worship is renting the Draper Amphitheater. No other connection at all," said Hancock, adding that they "rent the Draper facility to all kinds of groups."
Derek Spirk, spokesman for the Michael W. Smith tour, told CP that the "Wonder, Worship, and Glory" tour has already been to many locations this year.
"The Wonder, Worship, and Glory tour has been in over seven countries and all over the United States this year," said Spirk. "Draper is one of many stops in the United States. Michael is very much looking forward to bringing his tour to Draper."
One of the sponsors is the Warrior Worship Project, an evangelical group that focuses its witness to members of the military and veterans.