ADF & FPCWV: W.Va. town does not need to abandon invocations

By The West Virginia Record | May 22, 2008

CHARLES TOWN -- The Family Policy Council of West Virginia recently mailed a model prayer policy designed by Alliance Defense Fund attorneys to Charles Town officials in the wake of a recent complaint over the city council's tradition of starting its meetings with an invocation.

Numerous communities across the nation have adopted the model policy.

"A prayer in public meetings shouldn't be banned just because a Christian or religious person delivers it. The First Amendment allows public officials to acknowledge our nation's religious heritage," ADF Senior Legal Counsel Mike Johnson said. "The practice of opening public meetings with prayer has always been lawful. The Constitution protects public officials who choose to invoke divine guidance and blessings upon their work."

The Charles Town City Council recently moved to allow for a moment of silence instead of a prayer after receipt of a complaint from one resident of the town.

"Just because someone claims they are 'offended' by hearing a public prayer does not mean the prayer has to be silenced," said Jeremy Dys, president and general counsel of the FPC of West Virginia (www.wvfpc.org). "Public officials throughout our country need to be encouraged and reminded that such invocations do not violate the Constitution. This policy, which is also available for other communities, equips them to continue the cherished tradition of public invocations in a constitutional manner."

Because of increasing attacks against the tradition of opening government meetings with a public prayer, ADF attorneys have crafted a model invocations policy that addresses any constitutional concerns regarding such prayers. Versions of this policy have been adopted by government bodies in Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

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