Open Letter to the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington

I’d like to request that you amend the Rules of the Board. Article VII “Order of Business”, Section 2 “Pledge of Allegiance and Prayer” should be removed. Prayer at government meetings violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

It is inappropriate for open government meetings to have any kind of prayer or religious ritual. Public officials who have tax-paid positions should not be engaging in prayer at government functions. You have taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of New Jersey. These are secular constitutions that you have sworn to uphold. You are free to pray privately or to worship on your own time in your own way. But when government bodies lend their power and prestige to religion, it amounts to a governmental endorsement. Even when prayers are “nondenominational,” there is no way a government body may conduct prayer that will not inevitably exclude, divide and embarrass at least some taxpayers and constituents. Observing a strict separation of church and state will offend no one and include all citizens.

-Jeff Girgenti

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