Group against prayer at Birmingham city hall

By Ashley Nix

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The Freedom from Religion Foundation has sent a letter to Birmingham City Hall, voicing strong opinions against Christianity and against prayer at Birmingham City Hall.

Most every Tuesday before Birmingham City Council starts, heads are bowed.

"Historically governments do start off with prayer," Councilor Carole Smitherman said Tuesday.  "I just don't think were in violation of anything when it comes to prayer."

That's not the sentiment of a national group out of Wisconsin called the Freedom from Religion Foundation.  

"15% or more of the population is now non-religious," Annie Laurie Gaylor said to FOX6 News.  "That's a lot of people to offend.  When they go to city council and they suddenly realize there's religion there, they're contacting us and they're shocked."

Gaylor says, in her opinion, there is no proof prayer works.  

"Why cant they pray before they come to the city council meetings?" Gaylor said.  "Nothing fails like prayer, the universe is full of unanswered prayer, the graveyards are full of people who died praying to live."

But city councilors contend there's nothing wrong with various religious leaders leading prayers before city council.  

"What I have said is if that person wants to come and stand for that one minute or 2 and do absolutely nothing, then that's fine with me," Council President Roderick Royal said.

Councilor Johnathan Austin says in his opinion, prayer isn't being forced upon anyone during city council.  

"Born out of tradition for this country," Austin said.  "It was founded on inclusion of everyone so if there's someone other that Protestant and Catholic or Muslim, then please come."

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