Despicable: Freedom From Religion Foundation Taking Advantage of Vulnerable State of Our Country During COVID-19, Attacking Public Officials Offering Prayer During This Crisis
It’s quite frankly despicable. To use the COVID-19 pandemic to seek to attack public officials who are offering support and prayer for their constituents facing an unprecedented health crisis, should be unthinkable. But it is happening right now. There is nothing new about the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s (“FFRF”) tactics, as they have always sent out threatening, and oftentimes rather unprofessional, letters to scare individuals and silence their religious speech. But the ACLJ has always been there to fight back to protect your First Amendment rights to freedom of religion and freedom of speech. They are at it again; but this time FFRF is attacking local officials who are simply trying to support their citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ACLJ has heard from public officials in the past month who have received threatening letters because they offered prayer or provided support programs meant to aid those hurting in our country. FFRF is even going so far as to brag about their threats , promoting their “letter of complaint” sent to West Virginia Governor Jim Justice for designating a Day of Prayer to bring peace during the pandemic. Yes, to FFRF, somehow offering prayer for those suffering from this pandemic is now a constitutional crisis. The ACLJ has dealt with FFRF’s threats before, and we are here to fight again. FFRF has already lost multiple cases challenging officials’ declarations for a Day of Prayer, and the ACLJ has submitted amicus briefs in support of those leaders. As the courts have recognized, a Day of Prayer is a historical American tradition going all the way back to our Founding Fathers. As the Governor of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer in 1779; and in 1789, George Washington established the practice of a presidential and congressional prayer proclamation that has endured for two centuries. The Supreme Court has further concluded that “[o]ur history is replete with official references to the value and invocation of Divine guidance in deliberations and pronouncements of the Founding Fathers and contemporary leaders.” Why then is FFRF still beating a dead horse with these frivolous “letters of complaint?” It’s simple–they want to kick us, and the good-natured leaders of our country, when we are down. If you or your locality are facing a threatening letter as described above from FFRF, the ACLJ is here to support you. Please fill out our Legal Help Request and someone on our legal team will get in contact with you. We’ve stopped them before and we can certainly stop them again! Prayer and expressions of faith are not only constitutional, they are crucial during this pandemic.