The Freedom From Religion Foundation has asked the city council of Akron, Ohio to exclude Christian prayer from government meetings.
Heather Clark of Christian News Network writes that several non-Christian residents of Akron claimed to feel unwelcomed by the prayers at weekly public meetings. In the past, the Supreme Court has declared religious prayers constitutional within certain limits. Council President Margo Sommerville expressed a willingness to see other religions represented meetings.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter to council President Margo Sommerville on Tuesday, advising that a “concerned resident” contacted the entity to lodge a complaint over the “consistently Christian prayer” at the weekly meetings.
It noted that a Christian organization, Love Akron, has been outsourced to supply faith leaders for the invocation, and at the May 16 meeting, a member of the council presented a Christian prayer.
“Opening meetings with a practice that excludes members of the community is contrary to an environment that ‘should be an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone,’” the letter stated, quoting in part from one Muslim city council member. “Inviting other faith leaders to deliver prayers does not fix the wrong because prayer is a religious practice, which automatically excludes all nonreligious citizens.”
Parinita Singh, an Akron resident who does not identify with any religion, spoke out during the May 9 public comment period. Singh said that the Christian prayers make her feel “a little uncomfortable, … unwelcome and out of place.” It is not clear whether Singh is the “concerned resident” referenced in FFRF’s letter or if there was more than one complainant.