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ACLU to Lancaster Politicians: Stop Your Christian Prayers at Public Meetings

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Photo by hpebley3 via Flickr
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It's not that the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California wants Lancaster officials to stop praying all together at the beginning of meetings, but to stop singling out that Jesus guy.

“The City Council is clearly showing bias toward one religion by leading council and planning meetings with Christian prayers,” said Peter Eliasberg, Manheim Family Attorney for First Amendment Rights at the ACLU/SC in a statement. “Public officials are not only alienating a large swath of the non-Christian constituents they represent, but they are also clearly violating one of the most basic principles of the Constitution - that government must not favor one religion over others.”

In 2002, the California Court of Appeal upheld a Superior Court ruling that concluded that a prayer given by the city of Burbank “in the name of Jesus Christ” violated the First Amendment, says the ACLU. The court ordered the city to cease opening its meetings with sectarian prayers, and to inform anyone conducting a prayer that sectarian prayers are prohibited.

The ACLU's letter urges the high desert city to cease the practice or face legal action. Lancaster has until Friday to respond.