FFRF Threatens Lawsuit over Prayer before City Council Meetings

In 2013, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a misleading demand letter to city officials in League City, Texas, telling them that their 50-year tradition of praying before public meetings violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The FFRF threatened a lawsuit if the city did not immediately stop the practice.

Legal Action

In August 2013, First Liberty Institute General Counsel Jeff Mateer and First Liberty Senior Counsel and Director of Military Affairs Michael Berry attended League City’s council meeting. During the meeting, at which many residents gathered in support of the council’s practice of prayer, Mateer gave a presentation and First Liberty offered the city assistance in drafting a constitutional invocation policy.

After the presentation, the city council unanimously voted to retain First Liberty to assist the city in drafting an invocation policy that complied with constitutional standards. First Liberty also offered to represent the city free of charge should the FFRF take further action.

A few weeks later, the city council officially adopted the public invocation policy drafted by First Liberty.

It seemed as if the case were over. However, in February 2014, a San Antonio man threatened to sue the city if the council didn’t cease its practice of legislative prayer. Because of First Liberty’s involvement, League City was confident in the city’s invocation policy and stood firm, refusing to give in to the man’s demands.

Prayer before public meetings is a tradition rooted deep in American history. The First Congress opened their meetings in prayer. In addition, the Congress that adopted the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution—which the FFRF accused League City of violating—opened meetings in prayer. To this day, the U.S. Congress continues to open in prayer, as do many state legislatures and legislative bodies in cities and towns across the nation.

First Liberty is committed to defending religious freedom in America in accordance with the principles of America’s founders. As part of this mission, First Liberty is dedicated to protecting governmental bodies and officials threatened by individuals and organizations such as the FFRF who seek to eliminate the expression of faith and acknowledgement of God from governmental proceedings.

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: August 27, 2013

Contact: Gregg Wooding, gwooding@libertyinstitute.org

Cell: 214.558.9455, Office: 972.941.4453

LEAGUE CITY ADOPTS INVOCATION POLICY

Liberty Institute Attorneys Commend City Officials for Adopting Written Policy


LEAGUE CITY, TX, August 27, 2013 — Today, the City Council of League City adopted a model invocation policy drafted by the Liberty Institute. In July, City officials invited Liberty Institute to a council meeting to discuss the constitutionality of public prayer following receipt of a FFRF demand letter misinforming officials that the city’s 50-year tradition of praying before public meetings violated the First Amendment.

“We commend Mayor Paulissen and the City Council of League City for adopting a written invocation policy,” said Mike Berry, Liberty Institute Attorney, who attended Tuesday night’s meeting. “It is important to put into writing what is already being practiced.”

Recently, two separate federal appellate courts upheld the constitutionality of invocation policies in the cities of Lancaster, CA, and Lakeland, FL. In November, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in an appeal in Galloway v. Town of Greece, which should reaffirm the constitutionality of prayers at public meetings.

“The United States has a history and tradition dating back over 200 years of prayer before public meetings,” Berry said. “The first Congress opened their meetings in prayer, and Congress continues to open in prayer as does the Texas Legislature and other state legislatures.”

# # #

About Liberty Institute

Liberty Institute is a national nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.

To download this press release, please click here.


Press Releases

Press Release – 08/13/2013

First Liberty Institute is not currently providing additional content for this case. Please see the other tabs in this case for more information.

First Liberty Institute is not currently providing additional content for this case. Please see the other tabs in this case for more information.

Social Facebook Social Instagram Social Twitter Social Youtube Social Linkedin Social Soundcloud

Terms of UsePrivacy PolicySitemap • © 2022 Liberty Institute® is a trademark of First Liberty Institute