I am sure that everyone has heard that famous warning, "Never discuss politics or religion if you want to avoid a contentious conversation." When it comes to current events surrounding the idea of the separation between church and state, guaranteed by the First Amendment, both taboo topics take center stage. Court cases are heard every year and on every level about whether or not people can pray in a particular location. And, politicians who are eager to secure a few more votes in the next election will certainly share their thoughts on the matter as well.
One such court case is unfolding in Texas, and it involves the Houston City Council. A local real estate agent and lawyer, Kay Stanley, is suing both the city and City Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck for what she believes is a promotion of the Christian faith during council meetings. Stanley alleges that more than 90% of the prayers spoken to open meetings are based in Christianity and specifically targets Councilwoman Clutterbuck for her recitation of the Lord's Prayer.
City Attorney Arturo Michel believes that offering a prayer to open a council meeting does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, as the government is not endorsing a particular religion. Mr. Michel also referenced a Supreme Court ruling that supported the Council's decision to open in prayer.
Kay Stanley is no stranger to being a self-appointed watchdog for the separation of church and state. She successfully sued to have a Bible removed from the Harris County courthouse six years ago.
Whether or not you are not concerned about the prayer choices of your local elected officials, there may be other instances in which your livelihood is affected by your personal convictions. If you are currently working in an environment that either imposes a particular religious ideology on you or penalizes you for your religious beliefs, you should seek legal representation. The attorneys at Bertolino LLP are experienced in labor and employment law and will work with you to make sure you are receiving fair treatment. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.