The AHA is closely monitoring a case where a Maryland county commissioner has created a monthly prayer session and invited the county’s employees. The first “time for prayer” is set for June 7 in a county building at 12:30 p.m.
The AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center has already sent a letter to the commission questioning their use of sectarian prayers at board meetings (http://humanistlegalcenter.org/main/legal-center-opposes-prayers-at-carroll-co-md-board-meetings/).
(Photo of Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier)
Some raise concerns about invitation as well as prayers before open sessions
May 11, 2012, By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun
A Carroll County commissioner has emailed an invitation to about 850 government employees to attend a monthly prayer session, which she will lead, raising concern among some residents and watchdog groups.
Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier drafted the invitation and had a member of her staff send it May 3, to coincide with National Day of Prayer, a day on which the president traditionally calls on the nation to pray for peace and the country’s welfare.
Frazier’s first “time for prayer” is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. June 7 in the basement of the County Office Building in Westminster. The sessions will continue on the first Thursday of each month. She said she has received a few replies from those who have said they will stop by.
“We are doing something encouraging and uplifting,” Frazier said.
She also sees no problem with using a county building for religious purposes, she said.
“Other groups use this same building for noncounty business,” she said.
The five-member, all-Republican commissioner board has scheduled a discussion Thursday on the issue. The board does pray before its open sessions, most often with generic, nondenominational petitions. But even that has drawn opposition from groups advocating separation of church and state, such as the American Humanist Association.
“It is highly inappropriate for a government official to use his or her position to engage employees in prayer,” said Bill Burgess, attorney for the American Humanist Association. “This is government promoting religion and putting pressure on subordinates.”
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