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Rancho Cordova, CA 'Prayer Day' Violates Separation of Church and State, Say Atheist Groups

Two organizations fired at the city of Rancho Cordova, Calif. in recent weeks claiming that it has violated the separation of church and state by scheduling a "Celebration of Faith" day this Sunday.

"The most egregious thing here is that the city has its own day of prayer that its sponsoring," Ian Smith, staff attorney for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told The Sacramento Bee.

"Celebration of Faith" commemorates a 10-year anniversary for the city. Judy Saint, the President of the Greater Sacramento chapter of Freedom From Religion Foundation, also expressed her disgust to The Sacramento Bee for the city's participation in a faith-based event that only involves Christian churches.

"They need to completely separate themselves from appearing to endorse any particular religion," she said.

Both organizations joined together and sent a letter to Rancho Cordova's mayor Linda Bulge urging her to cancel "Celebration of Faith" that was set to take place at 7 p.m. at the Village Green Park Ampitheater. The event will feature instrumental and vocal music along with community prayers. It is the culmination of a "Day of Prayer" that will be observed by 10 local churches.

The city is celebrating its day of incorporation that took place on July 1, 2003. The celebration will also feature four days of activities which include concerts, a free gourmet hot dog barbeque, an art exhibit, a parade and a fireworks display.

Both groups hope to convince the city to disassociate itself from the worship services and prayer event. They plan to do this by encouraging the city not to promote or endorse the event on its official website.

Troy Hold, a spokesman for the city, said the event is meant to include people from all walks of life.

"This was very much a grass-roots desire on the part of the community," he said. "We are encouraging all residents to celebrate the anniversary in the way that they chose. The intent was to be open to all organizations. It is not exclusionary at all."

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