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TANSTAAFA*

Filed at 3:45 pm under by dcobranchi

*There ain’t no such thing as a First Amendment.

The Parkersburg, WV City Council seems to “think” that they do not have to follow the Constitution. They will be in for a rude awakening, I expect, when they get sued for opening every City Council meeting with the Lord’s Prayer.

Group: Prayer change inadequate
August 13, 2015
By GRETCHEN RICHARDS (grichards@newsandsentinel.com) , Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG – An activist group has sent a second letter to Parkersburg City Council, claiming the changes made to council’s prayer before a meeting are still unconstitutional.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent another letter to Parkersburg City Council, which was released on Wednesday. The second letter is dated July 31.

In the letter, the foundation claims “(t)he modifications that you have advised the Council to make fail to reduce the coerciveness of the prayer and continue to violate the Constitution’s Establishment Clause.”

The letter, addressed to Parkersburg City Attorney Joseph Santer, is the second sent to the city on behalf of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an organization which claims it seeks “to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church.”

In the first letter, dated July 1, the foundation claimed the Parkersburg City Council’s tradition of beginning a meeting with the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, combined with a request for all in chambers to rise and join in, was unconstitutional.

The letter claimed that the use of the Lord’s Prayer is unfair, coercive and intimidating to the non-religious people of Parkersburg who must seek audience with the council.

In response to the letter, Santer advised Parkersburg City Council to conduct all prayers prior to starting the meeting, to no longer invite the public to participate, and to not have any one elected official lead the prayer.

In the July 31 letter, the foundation claims the changes advised to council are insufficient. The letter claims that prayers said prior to calling the meeting to order are still attributable to the council and considered a form of government speech.

The letter goes on to say that “reciting only the Lord’s Prayer at every meeting will never be in compliance with the Constitution because it endorses Christianity and discriminates against minority faiths and those who are nonreligious.”

The foundation advised the council to “completely drop prayer from its public meetings and allow council members and the public to pray on their own.”

The demands being made by the foundation were described as “ridiculous” by Parkersburg Mayor Jimmy Colombo on Wednesday.

Reciting the Lord’s Prayer before a meeting begins is a common practice, which is performed in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, as well as in most state capitols in the nation, Colombo said.

“I think it is ridiculous that they feel they can run people’s lives,” Colombo said. “Last time I looked, this was not China or Russia. It’s America.”

Parkersburg City Council will continue to say the Lord’s Prayer before meetings, Colombo said.

Santer was unavailable for comment Wednesday evening.

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