Chico prayer tradition on solid legal and historical ground

Monday, August 19, 2013
Becky Yeh - California correspondent (

Alliance Defending Freedom is defending one California city's right to open public meetings with prayer.

Alliance Defending FreedomAtheist groups are demanding that the city of Chico stop opening public meetings with prayer. The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the northern California city asking its leaders to stop community members of all faiths from praying before city council meetings. The prayers are delivered by individuals of different faiths, including Jews, Christians, Hindus, and members of the Baha’i faith.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) senior counsel David Cortman says history is on Chico’s side.

"Americans today should be as free as the Founders were to pray,” he states. “In fact, the Founders prayed while drafting our Constitution's Bill of Rights, and the Supreme Court has ruled that public prayer is part of the 'history and tradition of this country.'

“The city of Chico, therefore, is on extremely firm ground to allow prayer before its public meetings."

ADF is defending a similar prayer policy in New York at the U.S. Supreme Court.

"A few people should not be able to extinguish the traditions of our nation merely because they heard something they didn't like,” adds ADF senior counsel Brett Harvey. “Because the authors of the Constitution invoked God's blessing on public proceedings, this tradition shouldn't suddenly be considered unconstitutional. It's perfectly constitutional to allow community members to ask for God's blessing according to their conscience."

The city of Chico's rules are similar to other cities and demand that no religion may be promoted over another.

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