First Amendment

Suit: Lord's Prayer at Start of Council Meetings Treats Non-Christians Like 'Second-Class Citizens'

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Delaware residents looking to enforce the divide between church and state have sued their local county council, aiming to end its practice of beginning each public meeting with the Lord’s Prayer.

The plaintiffs, who include a retired Lutheran pastor, maintain that by reciting an explicitly Christian and Protestant version of the prayer, the Sussex County Council is promoting a single religion, reports Delaware Online.

The Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State brought the suit after its complaints about the practice in 2008 and 2009 received no response.

Responding to Thursday’s federal lawsuit, Councilman Vance Phillips said, “It’s disappointing that outside influences are trying to undermine the positive traditions that this county holds dear.”

“By persistently sponsoring this Christian prayer, the County Council has publicly aligned itself with a single faith. In so doing, the Council sends the message to non-Christians that the Council does not represent non-Christians’ concerns,” the suit (PDF) maintains. The prayer also sends a message that non-Christians are “second-class citizens,” the complaint asserts.

Hat tip: Religion Clause.

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