Southern California Mayor Uses Government Resources For Christian Events

| by Maura Turcotte

Church and state are separated in the U.S., according to the Constitution, but time after time again the two seem intertwined — and not always by accident.

Recently, the mayor of Orange, California, has come under fire from the national nonprofit organization Freedom From Religion Foundation for using government resources for Christian prayer breakfasts, reports Patheos.

These breakfasts were originally described as open to all faiths, but after FFRF further investigated them, the organization discovered evidence that suggests these events were biased towards a specific religion and that public officials were involved in organizing the religious aspects.

In a letter to Mayor Teresa Smith’s office, FFRF wrote:

"These prayer breakfasts were undoubtedly Christian affairs. In an Oct. 8, 2013 email between a city staffer, Deputy City Manager Irma Hernandez, when asked about the content of the keynote speaker’s address, Hernandez stated ‘(h)e will be talking about how Christ and following Christ has impacted his life — duh it’s a prayer breakfast and their goal is to share the Gospel and bring people to Christ and strengthen their beliefs.’”

While Smith’s office has yet to respond to FFRF’s claim, these events do pose “constitutional concerns,” as the group explains, violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment, reports Patheos.

This news comes just as Oklahoma has been directed to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state capitol, reports Politico.

After a lawsuit was brought forward by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, the state Supreme Court ruled in 7 to 2 decision on June 30 that the monument violates the state constitution, which states, “No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion,” documents Politico.

“I think that at the end of the day it is the right decision simply because it acknowledges limits on the government’s power to effectively decide what religious edicts are right and wrong,” explained Brady Anderson, legal director of ACLU of Oklahoma, to Tulsa World.

Sources: Patheos, Politico, Tulsa World

Photo Source: Facebook via Patheos