The Tehachapi City Council is the latest California governing board to respond to a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation that requests the practice of "endorsing" a particular faith in its invocations end.
Other city councils that have received the letters, which threaten legal action, include councils in the cities of Lodi, Turlock, Tracy, and Lancaster.
For the past six months, Tehachapi City Council meetings began with a prayer, but at the council's meeting on Sept. 8, the first since receiving the letter from the atheists group, there was no prayer, instead the Pledge of Allegiance.
A portion of the letter reads, “The prayers currently given during the Council meeting impermissibly advance Christianity and lead a reasonable observer to believe that the Council is endorsing not only religion over non religion, but also Christianity over other faiths.”
The Tehachapi City Council is scheduled to bring up the subject of prayer again at its meeting tonight.
Leading the nationwide charge against the effort to exclude prayer before city council meetings has been former Navy Chaplain Gordon Kligenschmitt. His online campaign helped bring 400 supporters to the steps of Lodi City Hall for a prayer rally. The Lodi City Council is scheduled to address the issue again at its meeting on Sept. 30.
Kligenschmitt has an online petition to be sent to the Tehachapi City Council that in part reads:
We the undersigned, respectfully petition you to defend religious freedom by allowing visiting pastors of all diverse faiths and denominations, to pray aloud publicly according to the dictates of their own conscience, at or before city council meetings, even if they dare to pray aloud publicly "in Jesus name" or invoke their own specific deity.
Please do not cave-in to atheist intimidation by the enemies of religious liberty, including Americans United and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who are threatening to sue to silence all prayers...
Kligenschmitt has been repeating a similar refrain for each campaign on his Pray in Jesus Name Project Website:
Jesus is not an illegal word, the Bible is not a banned book, and evangelistic speech is not a crime.
More articles by Alex Murashko at LA Church & State Examiner.