On Jan. 16, the Freedom From Religion Foundation denounced a proclamation issued by Mayor Randy Price and the Winfield, Ala., City Council that declared Winfield “a City under God” that “is where it is today because of God’s grace and mercy.”
“Such a proclamation might be expected in a theocracy, but not in the country that invented separation of state and church,” said staff attorney Andrew Seidel in a fiery letter addressed to Price.
The mayor reportedly said the overall response was positive. “Of course pandering to the Christian majority is popular,” wrote Seidel. “But those who are serious about their faith should be alarmed when politicians cheapen their religion by using it as a political trick designed to score points with voters.”
Seidel dismissed Price’s statements that the country’s founders said “One nation under God” and “tried to build a nation on Christian principles.”
Seidel noted that no founder uttered “one nation under God,” and that it did not appear on coinage until 1864 at the urging of a preacher. “I’d be surprised if you can name one uniquely Christian principle upon which the United States was founded,” Seidel challenged.
The proclamation makes city officials seem irresponsible, Seidel said. “It looks like politicians with little or no idea of how to govern are seeking someone to assume their responsibilities. It looks like someone is trying to abrogate his or her duty. The buck stops with the mayor and Winfield City Council. They, not someone’s imaginary friend, are responsible for Winfield. If that responsibility seems too great, perhaps it’s time to look for another job.”
Seidel also called the proclamation immoral and discriminatory for elevating Christians into a favored class in Winfield.
Price was elected mayor in 2012. According to AL.com, Price installed a Ten Commandments monument in his wrecker service business to show his religious convictions. He reportedly doesn’t feel the resolution excludes other religions because “there’s not but one God.”
“It is not within Winfield’s power to declare a city for the mayor’s particular god,” concluded Seidel, asking for assurances that the city would not issue future religious proclamations.
FFRF is a state/church watchdog with more than 21,500 members nationwide. Alabama is home to its oldest chapter, the Alabama Freethought Association.