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Public prayers attacked in Peachtree City | News

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Public prayers attacked in Peachtree City

PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. - Like many Georgia communities, Peachtree City is primarily a Christian community, for those who practice religion.

Like most governments, the City Council of this Fayette County municipality of 37,000 begins their meetings with a prayer.

But now they're being threatened with legal action if they don't change it.

Al Stefanelli is a Peachtree City resident and is also the newly appointed Director of the Georgia Chapter of American Atheists.

Last week he wrote a letter to Peachtree City's Mayor and City Council members asking that their meeting prayers be broadened to include several religions, including atheists.

On Monday he told 11Alive News he doesn't object to the prayers, but simply wants them rotated to represent a wider spectrum.

He criticized the fact that the prayers usually being with "Heavenly Father" and end with "In His wonderful name".

"We just are looking for equality for everybody," Stefanelli said.

"The City Council represents the people of Peachtree City and the City of Peachtree City is not just Christians; there are many different religions and non-religions here," he added.

Mayor Don Haddix defends the council meeting prayers as generic enough to not offend anyone, including non-believers.

And he doesn't plan to change anything.

"I'm fully within Federal law," Haddix told 11 Alive News.

"I'm not establishing a religion; I'm not promoting a religion; I'm not proselytizing any religion, so I am generic. I see no reason to change," he added.

A couple of years ago Cobb County Commissioners were hit with a lawsuit that claimed their meeting prayers were unconstitutional.

They won when a federal court ruled they were broad enough to cover several religions.