Senior Center Bans Public Lunchtime Prayers

A small town in North Carolina’s Outer Banks has come under attack from a group of Wisconsin atheists.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation got triggered after someone ratted out a bunch of elderly Christians who prayed before lunch at a senior center.

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“A concerned community member reported that a Currituck County Senior Center employee leads an
explicitly Christian prayer before every lunch served at the Center,” the out-of-town atheists wrote in their letter. “We are told that the seniors are not allowed to eat lunch until an employee finishes blessing the food. Our complainant states that the Center’s lunch-time prayer practice makes them feel pressured to participate in prayer.”

The meddling atheists alleged that it’s against the U.S. Constitution to offer a prayer at a taxpayer-funded senior center. They went on to argue that religious activities of any sort are not permitted.

“The Code of Federal Regulations is explicit and unequivocal in its prohibition on religious activities as part of any program funded through the Department of Health and Human Services,” FFRF’s Sammi Lawrence wrote in a letter to the county. “Requiring seniors to observe and participate in a coercive prayer practice at government-subsidized activities places your agency in direct violation of the federal mandate.”

Currituck County refuted some of the accusations hurled by the atheists.

“It is a complete fabrication that individuals are not allowed to eat until they participate in the prayer,” the county attorney wrote in response. “It is a voluntary activity for those individuals who want to participate.”

Still, the county attorney capitulated and said the elderly Christians would no longer offer a prayer before lunchtime.

“Even though the Senior Center is not condoning an unconstitutional prayer practice alleged in your letter, there will be an immediate shift from a voluntary prayer to a moment of silence prior to lunch,” the attorney wrote.

FFRF gleefully celebrated the demise of the prayer.

“Religious rituals should never be a condition of receiving  such life-essential services as meals,” says FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We’re glad that Currituck County realized the exclusionary nature of such practices.”

Don’t be surprised if the elderly folks in Currituck County come down with a case of indigestion after lunch.

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