Open Letter to the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington – Follow up 2

Well, I wrote a letter to the editor this weekend. Today Burlington County Times published it. This is the first time I ever did anything like this. Here is the text of what I emailed (it’s mostly taken from my prior writings about this):

“The Rules of the Board of the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington should be amended. 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 of the Constitution of the United States.

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. The Freeholders 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 they have sworn to uphold. They are free to pray privately or to worship on their own time in their 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.

This Board exists to govern on civic, secular matters. Why is divine guidance needed? Does the prayer add any value to the meeting? Would the responsibility of the Freeholders or the accomplishments of the Board have changed had they not prayed before each meeting? I trust that each member would take their obligation just as seriously. Therefore the prayer before each meeting should cease.”

So now I’ll wait and see if anything happens. And if not, I’ll figure out if I can get to an actual meeting to make a statement in person.


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