Americans United, ACLU oppose council prayers in Virginia Country. (People & Events).Americans United for Separation of Church and State Americans United for Separation of Church and State (Americans United or AU for short) is a religious freedom advocacy group in the United States which promotes the separation of church and state, a legal doctrine seen by the AU as being enshrined in the Establishment and the American Civil Liberties Union American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), nonpartisan organization devoted to the preservation and extension of the basic rights set forth in the U.S. Constitution. of Virginia filed a lawsuit in federal court Dec. 6 against the Chesterfield County Chesterfield County is the name of several counties in the United States:
The plaintiff in the case is Cynthia Simpson, a Wiccan who asserts that the Board's refusal to add her to a list of volunteer clergy who give the invocations constitutes illegal religious discrimination. and an unconstitutional government promotion of religion.
The Board routinely opens its meetings with prayers, usually offered by clergy from Christian denominations List of Christian denominations (or Denominations self-identified as Christian) ordered by historical and doctrinal relationships. (See also: Christianity; Christian denominations).
Some groups are large (e.g. . (Since 2000, Christian clergy have led the prayers at every Board meeting with one exception when two Christian clergy and one Jewish rabbi officiated.) Earlier this year, Simpson contacted the Board and asked that her name be added to the list of volunteers.
In response, County Attorney Steven L. Micas sent Simpson a letter stating, "Chesterfield's non-sectarian invocations are traditionally made to a divinity that is consistent with the Judeo-Christian tradition. Based upon our review of Wicca, it is neo-pagan and invokes polytheistic pol·y·the·ism
The worship of or belief in more than one god.
[French polythéisme, from Greek polutheos, polytheistic : polu-, poly- + theos, god , pre-Christian deifies. Accordingly, we cannot honor your request to be included on the list of religious leaders that are invited to provide invocations at the meetings of the Board of Supervisors."
Board members also ridiculed and criticized Simpson's religious beliefs. Supervisor Renny B. Humphrey told the Richmond limes-Dispatch, "I hope she's a good witch, like Glinda" a reference to a character from "The Wizard of Oz Wizard of Oz
reaches and departs from Oz in circus balloon. [Children’s Lit.: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz]
See : Ballooning
Wizard of Oz
false wizard takes up residence in Emerald City. [Am. Lit. ." Board Chair Kelly E. Miller said, "It is a mockery. It is not any religion I would subscribe to. There are certain places we ought not go, and this is one of them."
After the lawsuit was filed, some Board members continued to disparage dis·par·age
tr.v. dis·par·aged, dis·par·ag·ing, dis·par·ag·es
1. To speak of in a slighting or disrespectful way; belittle. See Synonyms at decry.
2. To reduce in esteem or rank. Simpson's faith. "That [Wicca] is basically a non-religion" Miller told The Washington Post. "It doesn't recognize the God that we have recognized. My perspective is that we should continue to follow the Judeo-Christian perspective. In the name of diversity, we need not throw away our Christian heritage." Miller admitted that the board's prayer policy would bar Muslims and Hindus as well.
AU says the board's actions are patently unconstitutional.
"Government officials do not have the right to discriminate when it comes to religion," said Barry W. Lynn Reverend Barry W. Lynn (born 1948 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) has been the Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State since 1992. , executive director of Americans United. "The county supervisors shouldn't be sponsoring prayers at all, but when they do, they certainly can't play favorites."
The lawsuit, Simpson v. Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors, asks that Simpson be added to the list of clergy volunteers or that the Board discontinue invocations altogether.
In other news about prayers in government: