A Michigan state official was criticized for posting a prayer for victims of the March 22 Brussels terrorist attacks. Social media users took issue with a post by Rick Stathakis, a Shelby Township employee, offering condolences to the 33 people killed and 96 injured in the attacks.
“Mighty God, Shine your radiance into every corner of this dark and fallen world. Send your angel armies into Brussels, and heal the land,” read Stathakis’s Facebook post, reports Christian Today. “Hear the prayers of those who call to you, calm them with Your peace, and soothe the souls of those who lost loved ones in the attack.”
Many social media users did not take kindly to Stathakis’s prayer. Facebook user Rafael Saakyan accused the Michigan official of overstepping the boundaries of his job.
“As a government official, it is unconstitutional for you to use your official position to promote the establishment of faith. It violates the most basic principles of the United States of America. In addition to being unconstitutional, it is highly offensive to your constituents,” reads Saakyan’s comment.
Others on social media, however, jumped to the defense of Stathakis.
“May God bless you for your boldness in acknowledging that God is our only refuge and hope in this fallen and sin-cursed world. Keep praying, Rick, and stay true to your convictions,” commented Facebook user Rick Willms.
Stathakis defended his Facebook post, saying that he has a right to express religious beliefs, reports the Detroit Free Press.
“There is religious freedom in this country, even if you are in office. I’m not imposing my faith on anyone. All I’m doing is expressing my faith,” said Stathakis.
Still, some residents of Shelby Township complained that he violated the Constitution.
“There is no place for religion in government, and the Constitution makes it clear that no religion can be preferred over another,” Shelby resident Darcy Lewis told the Detroit Free Press.