Anti-religious freedom group objects to governor saying prayers during Hurricane Dorian

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Gov. Henry McMaster holds an update on state preparations ahead of Hurricane Dorian, Sept. 2, 2019. (Credit: WPDE file)

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FRF), a nonprofit group advocating the separation of state and church, objected to South Carolina governor’s decision to begin Hurricane Dorian press conferences with a prayer, citing “unconstitutional practices.”

The foundation wrote multiple letters to Governor Henry McMaster over including sectarian Christian prayers in Hurricane Dorian press conferences.

They cite two specific instances – the first was on September 2, when an Army Captain was called by the governor to lead the conference with a prayer that ended with, “in the name of Christ, amen.” And, the second was on September 5th when the prayer led by an Army Lieutenant Colonel ended with, “in Jesus’ name, amen.”

In a most recent letter to the governor, the group writes, “..and yet you are continuing to use your government position to promote your personal religion, despite knowing that your constituents object and that it is illegal,”

They further added “you are sending a clear message that your administration not only endorses religion in general, but that it specifically prefers Christianity over other faiths.”

Spokesperson for the governor, Brian Symmes, responded to the letter saying, “For as long as Henry McMaster is the governor of South Carolina, and we have to prepare for these dangerous storms, there will be a chaplain saying a prayer before each of those press conferences. For every person who may get offended, countless South Carolinians likely gain strength, guidance, and comfort from these prayers.”

However, FRF argues that using Christian prayers is a clear violation of Establishment Clause of the US Constitution, which the group believes violates the establishment clause of the US Constitution.

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