Though the Liberty Counsel’s defense of Kim Davis centered around protecting her religious freedom, the law firm is now fighting to prevent another individual from expressing that same freedom in the form of a prayer. Specifically, the firm is fighting to keep a non-Christian from offering a non-Christian prayer at a county meeting in Lake County, Florida.
It’s not exactly an uncommon scenario: there’s a location where town or city council meetings are often or always preceded by a prayer, and that prayer is always, or almost always, Christian. It has come up in one locale after another over recent years, usually in this same form: a non-Christian asks if, in the name of religious freedom, he or she can be allowed to offer a prayer or invocation. (The Freedom From Religion Foundation cites such cases as one of the most common complaints their organization receives, in fact.)
When the answer is no, it can become an establishment question — that is, a case in which the government is considered to be establishing a single religion, and it is considered a First Amendment violation.
Earlier this year, a North Carolina county was ordered by a judge, according to WITN, to put an end to the practice of Christian-only prayers, either allowing other religious groups to offer invocations as well, or to end the practice entirely.
Americans United warned a neighboring county, citing the Supreme Court decision of Greece v. Galloway, in which it was declared that religious freedom is in danger when only one religious group is permitted to have their prayers at such meetings.
(You can read more details of that decision on the SCOTUS Blog.)
However, the Liberty Counsel, which declares itself a promoter of religious liberty (you can see a banner from their website below), has declared a position in the fight: in opposition to liberty for those who would express non-Christian religious positions.
…restoring the culture by advancing religious freedom….
WOGX reports on the story, saying that Chaz Stevens, a Florida resident, has contacted his local officials and requested permission to present a Satanic prayer before a Lake County Commission meeting.
The Lake County Commission’s case is slightly different from many such cases, because non-Christian prayers, even an atheist invocation, have been allowed. This may set it apart from establishment cases, in which only one group’s prayers are represented, but religious discrimination does not require that only one group be given a privilege — only that someone is denied an equal privilege based on religious identity.
The Liberty Counsel has offered to represent the county if Stevens should pursue legal action, and sharing the story on their Facebook page, the group made it clear that, when it comes to religious freedom, Stevens falls outside their lines.
Liberty Counsel is defending the Lake County Florida Commissioners against a deranged homosexual-atheist activist, who is demanding permission to offer Satanic prayers at commission meetings, part of a project called “Satan or Silence.”
In other words, the Liberty Counsel fights for “religious freedom” for Kim Davis to deny rights to an entire community, but against Chaz Stevens’ “religious freedom” to offer a prayer (legally) equivalent to those of other religious groups.
Stevens’ prayer is being called a “stunt” and declared as less valid than those of more mainstream religious groups, but does religious freedom end at the point where a person wishes to pray to a being that many find objectionable?
Moreover, how does a law firm purportedly devoted to religious freedom, actively fight against the right of an individual, regardless of his belief system, to pray?
If the battle makes it to court, it will be interesting to see how the religious freedom law firm handles standing before a judge and explaining why they oppose one individual’s right to stand and offer a prayer.
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