Letter Received in Error Provides Opportunity for Council Member to Take a Stand

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Published on July 29 2013 10:28 pm
Last Updated on July 29 2013 10:32 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

A letter apparently sent in error is allowing a member of the Effingham City Council an opportunity to stand up for his faith.

Patrick Elliot is a staff attorney for the Freedom from Religion Foundation.  Elliot sent a letter received by, among others, City Commissioner Matt Hirtzel. 

The letter states that the Effingham City Council should refrain from official prayer to start City Council meetings.  The City Council does not, in fact, start its meetings with prayer, but with the Pledge of Allegiance.

Hirtzel released a statement in the aftermath of receiving the letter.  His statement reads in part:

"In the interest of full disclosure, I have participated in prayer prior to the beginning of the Council meeting.  At times, I have asked others if they wish to join me outside Council chambers for a brief moment of prayer.

"The City Council meets the first and third Tuesday of every month at 6:30pm at City Hall.  If you wish to pray with me before the beginning of the meeting, please feel free to come 10 minutes early so that we may spend a few moments in prayer for the city and those who lead it.  I believe we will be praying for the Freedom from Religion Foundation, as well.

"At the conclusion of the Declaration of Independence, those 56 men pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to each other, to liberty and to freedom.  I owe that and much more to the cause of Christ.  That is the manner of my resolve."

His statement was signed, "A bond-servant of Christ, Matt Hirtzel."