Ocala, Florida, isn’t an ideal destination at the height of summer, but I’ll be heading there this week for legal work. I’ll be deposing the city’s mayor and police chief in connection with a lawsuit brought by the American Humanist Association and several local residents who objected to a prayer vigil that was promoted and organized by the city’s police department.
The city’s police chief posted a public letter saying, among other things, that prayer was needed to solve the city’s crime problem and urging citizens to attend the prayer vigil. Police department chaplains led many of the prayers at the rally, much to the delight of the city’s conservative Christian leaders.
Our lawsuit claims that the entire event, from its promotion by the police chief to its police-led prayers, is a violation of church-state separation under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. At the depositions, we’ll discover more about how these government officials justify throwing a Christian revival.