The Lodi News-Sentinel reports on a complaint filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation against the Lodi (CA) City Council about it repeated prayers to Jesus Christ at the opening of council meetings.
FFRF says that “the prayers being offered do not fall into the narrow exception of constitutionally permissible government-sponsored prayer laid out by the Supreme Court.” In response, the Alliance Defense Fund has, according to the News-Sentinel, contacted the city in order to provide it with sample prayer policy that it has defended in court in the past and offer free legal assistance for the city if it gets sued for adopting said policy.
The issue is set to be taken up at the next City Council meeting scheduled for August 5th and while FFRF, ADF, and the city itself all seem to be seeking to work out an acceptable solution in a low-key manner, certain Religious Right activists have other plans:
Groups in favor of prayers at public meetings will be at the August meeting to ask the City Council to continue to allow prayer.
Wiley Drake, a Southern Baptist preacher who has a radio show on www.crusaderadio.com, said he is working “to put Lodi on the map,” with Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, of “In Jesus Name We Pray” and the Will of God Christian Center.
The religious leaders want to organize an international prayer meeting at 6 p.m. before the council meeting. Drake said he will work with the city on permits to broadcast the event on his radio show, and also set up an international telephone number for people to call in and listen.
Drake has encountered the Freedom From Religion Foundation and said the group bullies cities into compliance by threatening large, expensive lawsuits.
“They thought Lodi is a little country town up in Northern California, and it would be great if we can make them an example of them, so that’s why they are picking on Lodi,” Drake said.
He said the main aim of the prayer meeting ahead of time is to let the city know that citizens support them in keeping prayers that reference Jesus Christ.
For those who don’t recall, back in April, Klingenschmitt issued a call for “imprecatory prayer” against employees at Americans United, calling on God to curse them and destroy their homes, livelihoods, and families.
And just last month, Wiley Drake, who once issued his own imprecatory prayer against AU, declared that he was praying for the death of President Barack Obama.
I presume that if the Lodi City Council was initially inclined to defend and maintain its current prayer policy by claiming that it is reasonable and constitutional, it is probably rethinking that now that two men who regularly use prayer to call for the deaths of their political enemies are planning on showing up to lead the crusade.