Gov. Matt Bevin must immediately cancel the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast scheduled for Tuesday.
The First Amendment prohibits government sponsorship of religious occasions.
Yet, the breakfast and a link to sign up appear on the governor’s web page, and the state seal is seen on the invitation. Moreover, Bevin sent out an official email on Jan. 29 inviting all state employees for the gathering.
The event conveys the message that the governor of Kentucky prefers and endorses religion over nonreligion and, more specifically, the Christian faith. This alienates a significant portion of Kentuckians who are nonreligious (400,000, according to a 2008 survey) and non-Christian.
The governor is also misusing his power.
His deployment of official email for a prayer violates the state’s own guidelines, which prohibit emails “advocating religious or political opinions.” State employees will feel they must support a religious assembly, regardless of their personal thoughts or reservations, to get ahead or stay on the good side of their boss.
Bevin should cancel the event and apologize to all state employees for his email invitation. In failing to do this, he’ll end up on the wrong side of the Constitution.
Annie Laurie Gaylor
Freedom From Religion Foundation