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Tennessee governor’s ‘day of prayer and fasting” under fire from atheist group

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The Governor of Tennessee has declared Thursday as “day of prayer, humility and fasting” for the Volunteer state, but an atheist group is demanding that the initiative is a “disservice to the Constitution.”

Republican Gov., Bill Lee, along with his wife, Mary Lee, invited “all Tennesseans who want to participate, join us in a day of prayer for this remarkable condition, we are blessed to call home,” earlier this month aside for the day on Oct. 10.

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“I wanted to share with you something I have on my heart these nine months, since I’ve become Governor,” Lee said in a video posted on Twitter. “Everywhere, where Mary and I travel in this great state, we met countless people who come to me and say,” Governor, we pray for you and for Mary and for your family.’ I want you to know that we appreciate those prayers, because we know that God hears you.”

He added, “We know that prayer can do much. Prayer strengthens our families and strengthens our communities. It strengthens our relationship with our neighbors. It strengthens our relationship with God himself.”

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But not everyone is a fan of the proposal.

The co-presidents of the freedom From Religion Foundation, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, wrote an op-ed in the Knoxville news-Sentinel-call Lee preaching “inappropriate” and a “disservice to the Constitution and its citizens”

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“The establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States prohibits government sponsorship of religious messages, as the Governor must know,” the leader of the Wisconsin-based atheist group, wrote, encouraging the Governor to “issue a proclamation celebrating the freedom of conscience granted by the constitutional separation between religion and the state.”

David Plazas, the Director of the opinion and the commitment to the USA Today Network, wrote a similar op-ed in the Nashville Tennessean, entitled, “Gov. Bill Lee’s call to prayer does not violate the law, but it creates a slippery slope.”

Plazas wrote, “there are some problematic passages in Lee’s call for a day of prayer on Thursday, the challenge, the spirit of the Constitution, the freedom of religion clause is… because his words give the impression that the Governor speaks for all Tennesseans when it comes to their faith or lack of religious affiliation.”

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However, Jeremy Dys, First Liberty Institute, special counsel for litigation and communications, said Fox News ‘ Lee preaching is “in line with some of the most cherished and long-standing traditions of our country — traditions, the Supreme court recently stated, ‘carry the presumption of constitutionality.'”

“The President and the President issued alike pronouncements, urging the citizens to pray, said that since the earliest days of our nation,” Dys. “The First Amendment to the Constitution supported Governor Lee’s proclamation in the same way that Roosevelt approved it with similar proclamations of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln or Franklin D..”

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