For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, email@example.com
(Stockton, CA, Nov. 19, 2015)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a warning letter to the City of Stockton, California, on behalf of a local citizen and member of the Stockton Area Atheists and Freethinkers, who expressed concern about a prayer rally sponsored by the city and mayor in violation of the Establishment Clause.
According to the letter, Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva promoted prayer and religion by sponsoring a Prayer Rally on November 16. In his official capacity as mayor through social media accounts and press releases, Silva organized and endorsed the twelve-hour prayer rally and encouraged citizens to pray. At the rally, Silva presented the official key to the city, used for honorary public events, to God, and he also led attendees in prayer. Mayor Silva has also organized Town Hall meetings, co-sponsored by Christian organizations, at Calvary First Assembly of God and at Christian Life Center. The “Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting” is slated to be held on November 30, 2015 at Christian Life Center, according to a flyer on city letterhead attached to press release by the mayor.
“Mayors and other public officials cannot use the machinery of the state to push their religious agendas,” said Monica Miller, senior counsel with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “Using the state to promote prayer violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and alienates community members of minority faiths and of no faith.”
The American Humanist Association demands that the city and its officials stop this excessive entanglement with religion and with religious organizations. It also demands that the city provide written assurances that the location of future Town Hall meetings will be moved to secular locations and that the mayor will no longer sponsor prayer rallies.
A copy of the letter can be viewed here.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.