Lt. Gov.’s Prayer for Atheist Group Was Unconstitutional, Atheist Group Says


Lt. Gov.’s Prayer for Atheist Group Was Unconstitutional, Atheist Group Says

The lieutenant governor of Alabama is in difficulty with an atheist group just after urging his social media followers to pray for it.

Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth posted on Facebook and Twitter Oct. two a faith-themed message about Blount County (Ala.) Sheriff Mark Moon, who was becoming criticized by the Freedom From Religion Foundation for advertising and hosting a prayer vigil.

Ainsworth linked to a story about Moon and wrote, “An anti-religion group is attempting to make Blount County’s sheriff abandon a prayer vigil. Never they know Alabama’s motto is ‘We Dare Defend Our Rights’?”

Ainsworth then added, “Join me in praying for the sheriff and asking God to touch the hearts of the misguided FFRF lawyers.”

Now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is targeting Ainsworth for asking his followers to pray for Moon and the FFRF. 

The organization sent a letter to Ainsworth, asserting his comment was unconstitutional.

“As lieutenant governor, you represent a diverse population that consists of not only Christians, but also minority religious and nonreligious citizens,” FFRF lawyer Chris Line wrote. “Religious endorsements produced in your official capacity send a message that excludes the 24 % of American adults who recognize as nonreligious, which includes 38 % of Millennials and younger Americans. Religious endorsements coming from your workplace needlessly alienate the non-Christian and nonreligious citizens you represent, turning them into political outsiders in their personal neighborhood.”

Ainsworth’s Twitter bio reads: “Devoted husband, father, farmer, businessman, and outdoorsman.  Christian, Conservative Republican  Lt. Governor of Alabama.”

FFRF insists that “to uphold” his obligation “under the constitution to stay neutral” on “matters of religion” although acting in his official capacity, Ainsworth “must not use his official social media accounts to encourage citizens to pray.”

“Government officials can worship, pray or quote any religious text they want when acting in their private capacities,” Line wrote. “But they are not permitted to deliver prestige to their private religion by lending a government workplace and government title to religious ideology. Their offices and titles belong to ‘We the persons,’ not the offices’ short-term occupants.”

Ainsworth has been outspoken about his faith. In an April statement saying he would not run for U.S. Senate, Ainsworth mentioned he reached the choice “after deep discussions with my wife, Kendall, and prayerful guidance from above.”


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Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Pay a visit to his weblog,

Photo courtesy: Will Ainsworth Facebook


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