A Christian legal group has begun efforts to explain the legality of public prayer at public meetings to local governments around the United States.
As part of the campaign organized by the Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), thousands of letters to government officials will be sent to teach them how public prayer can be done constitutionally. They have also launched a webpage to help describe the issue in detail.
Representatives from the law group have specifically pinpointed the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for creating the problem and misinforming government bodies that prayer at public meetings is illegal.
"It's amazing that, in a country founded on religious liberty, the centuries-old choice to open a public meeting with a prayer of the giver's choosing is coming under attack," explained ADF senior legal counsel Mike Johnson in a statement. "But through their campaign of fear, intimidation, and disinformation, the ACLU and its allies continue their threats against hometown governments that they consider to be easy prey. ADF is offering free information and legal assistance to local officials so that they can stand up to the ACLU's far-flung, secular agenda."
A number of government-tied institutions have been threatened with legal action over the issue of public prayer in the past year. Common places include school systems and state legislative arms.
ADF has specifically helped assist local entities in three states – Louisiana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania – draft and defend policies to ensure that they can have public invocations at government meetings.
The most recent example occurred last Wednesday in Louisiana in regard to the Tangipahoa Parish School Board. In a ruling given by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, the judge overturned a previous case which had barred the district employees from opening their meetings with prayer.
ADF lawyers have also provided legal assistance to both the Ohio and South Carolina legislatures who have been struggling with the same problem by laying out policies that are supported constitutionally.
Through the new campaign, which has already sent out thousands of informational letters as well as started the new web page, ADF leaders hope that officials can have a better understanding of the issue, especially if they are threatened legally over the practice.
"We believe these policies are a constitutionally defensible method to protect and preserve the cherished American tradition of opening public meetings with prayer," added Johnson. "It is our hope that this Web page and the informational letters will encourage local officials with what they need to refute the increasing demands of the ACLU and its allies that public invocations be silenced across America."
Copies of the informational letters, which contain model prayer policies, for each state are also available on the web page.
On the Web: Address of Web content at www.telladf.org/adfresources/default.aspx?cid=4134.