News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, July 3, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The city just got a cease and desist letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. They want the mayor to stop his monthly prayer breakfast.
"God is why we are who we are," said Rev. Larry Fryer. "We are not going to stop praying. I'm not going to stop."
Rev. Fryer is speaking out after the Freedom From Religion Foundation declared the city must cease all sponsorship and organization of the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast.
It is an event Fryer supports each month.
"As a matter of fact, my church has held them," Fryer said. "No one is made to come. It is your freedom of choice. If you want to attend the breakfast, you can."
News 12 asked Annie Gaylor, co-president of the foundation, if she was suggesting that the mayor is breaking the law.
"The mayor is violating the First Amendment of the Constitution," Gaylor said.
We called the organization based in Madison, Wisc. They claim it is "grossly illegal and inappropriate for the city to be hosting a patently religious event."
"Mayor's Prayer Breakfasts," Gaylor said. "Organizing them monthly is crossing the line between separation of religion and government."
The foundation takes issue with the very name ... Mayor's Prayer Breakfast. They suggest the city is "endorsing" religion by posting information on the city website.
"These days, nothing surprises me," said Mayor Deke Copenhaver, who is talking Only to 12 about a breakfast he has been hosting for more than six years.
"I think it is the right thing to do ... to bring people together to pray for the city," Copenhaver said. "It is non-denominational. It's open to all. It's a good thing for the city and that's my stance on that."
The city law department is responding to the letter. The foundation says they will take a few days to review the information. They would not rule out legal action.
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