Atheist Group Sues WV City Council for Reciting Lord’s Prayer at Meetings

By Hemant Mehta

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed a lawsuit against the city of Parkersburg, West Virginia for reciting a Christian prayer at the beginning of all city council meetings. The lawsuit notes that council members say the Lord’s Prayer to open each session and audience members are encouraged to stand.

The plaintiffs include Parkersburg resident and atheist Daryl Cobranchi who attended council meetings but stopped because “the Council treat[ed] him like a second-class citizen” as a result of his dissent over the prayers. Another plaintiff is resident Eric Engle, a self-described “agnostic atheist” who felt “negatively singled out” for similar reasons.

This prayer practice has been going on for years, according to the complaint. The published minutes for the meetings say that the prayer dates back at least to the beginning of 2016, though it probably stretches back longer than that.

And it wasn’t like government officials just said the prayer and moved on.

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