Noted Theologians Stand Against Florida Atheists in Support of Legislative Prayer
Liberty Institute Files Brief at U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Behalf of Christian Theologians and Scholars, including Drs. Wayne Grudem, Darrell Bock, Mark Bailey, Peter Lillback, Stephen Evans, Wayne House, and J. Michael Thigpen
PLANO, Texas, June 26, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, on behalf of several noted Christian theologians and scholars, Liberty Institute filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in opposition to an appeal seeking to overturn a favorable legislative prayer decision from a federal district court in Florida. In Atheists of Florida, Inc. v. City of Lakeland, Florida, a Florida federal judge in February upheld the invocation policy of the Lakeland City Commission, ruling that legislative prayer is constitutional.
"The decision by the federal district judge rightly follows previous rulings and established principles affirmed in prior U.S. Supreme Court rulings, including Marsh v. Chambers and Lee v. Weisman, and by the 11th Circuit in Pelphrey v. Cobb County," said Jeff Mateer, general counsel for Liberty Institute. "Americans have every right under the Constitution to pray publicly before governmental bodies in whichever way they so choose. Forcing any person, theologian, scholar or any other private citizen, to censor their speech and dictate what they may or may not pray evidences hostility to religion, which violates the First Amendment."
Liberty Institute represents Dr. Mark Bailey, President of Dallas Theological Seminary; Dr. Darrell L. Bock, Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary; Dr. Stephen Evans, Professor at Baylor University; Dr. Wayne Grudem, Professor at Phoenix Seminary; Dr. H. Wayne House, Professor at Faith Evangelical Seminary and Veritas Evangelical Seminary; Dr. Peter Lillback, President of Westminster Theological Society; and J. Michael Thigpen, Executive Director of Evangelical Theological Society. A copy of the brief may be found at LibertyInstitute.org.
In 2011, Liberty Institute won a huge victory against the Department of Veterans Affairs that violated the First Amendment by requiring a pastor to submit his prayer for approval before allowing him to pray at a Memorial Day event at the Houston National Cemetery (See consent decree and video). More recently, Liberty Institute President Kelly Shackelford testified before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs to support H.R. 2720, a bill by Rep. John Culberson that prohibits the federal government from religious censorship during veterans' funeral services.
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Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to restoring and defending religious liberty across America – in our schools, for our churches, and throughout the public arena. Liberty Institute's vision is to reestablish liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation's founders. Visit www.LibertyInstitute.org for more information.
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