Group calls for ending of opening prayers at Legislature
Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of Church and State today sent a letter of complaint to the state Legislature over the practice of opening sessions with Christian prayers.
The group contends the practice violates First Amendment rights by proselytizing and says it will engage in peaceful acts of civil disobedience if the practice continues.
The letter — sent to all members of the Legislature, as well as state Attorney General Mark Bennett — follows a similar message delivered to the Honolulu city council earlier this month.
The group said it recorded today's sessions of the state House and Senate and that both began with Christian prayers.
The group says the Legislature is violating civil rights by asking citizens in attendance to rise while invocations are being delivered and that the prayers further violate the rights of citizens who might be watching the sessions on public access television.
The letter says, "As elected officials, each and every one of you swore an oath of office 'to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the State of Hawaii.' You are all ethically, legally, and honor bound to treat all citizens fairly and equally."
The group says that if the practice continues, members attending sessions "will rise, one person at a time, to interrupt and object as follows:
" 'I, (member's name), object to this sectarian religious activity on the grounds that it violates my First Amendment rights under the Constitution of the United States.' "
On the Net:
Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of Church and State: http://www.lava.net/~hcssc/