(FOX Carolina) A nonprofit group that advocates the separation of church and state has expressed their dismay over the use of prayer during South Carolina official's hurricane press conferences, citing "unconstitutional practices." 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote a letter to Governor Henry McMaster concerning two of this year's Hurricane Dorian press conferences that began with sectarian Christian prayers. 

The foundation says they've reached out to the governor before regarding the scheduled prayers. 

"...and yet you are continuing to use your government position to promote your personal religion, despite knowing that your constituents object and that it is illegal," they wrote in the most recent letter. 

They cite two specific press conferences: 

Once on September 2, when the governor called on an Army Captain to lead a prayer that ended with, "in the name of Christ, amen." And again on September 5, when an Army Lieutenant Colonel's prayer that ended with, "in Jesus' name, amen." 

"You are sending a clear message that your administration not only endorses religion in general, but that it specifically prefers Christianity over other faiths," the foundation said. 

In response to the letter, a spokesperson for the governor said there will be a chaplain saying a prayer before the press conferences as long as McMaster holds the position. 

"For as long as Henry McMaster is the governor of South Carolina, and we have to prepare for these dangerous storms, there will be a chaplain saying a prayer before each of those press conferences," said Brian Symmes, spokesperson for the governor. "For every person who may get offended, countless South Carolinians likely gain strength, guidance, and comfort from these prayers."

The organization argues the use of Christian prayer violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the government from "establishing" a religion. 

The full letter to the governor can be found below. 

Copyright 2019 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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(2) comments

Linda Abernathy

If there are people that don't choose to pray then don't! No one is forcing you to pray but I think Religious Freedom should mean free to pray. Anywhere, anytime! If you don't like it, close your eyes and think of something different. It's the same in school! I moved to this great state because we support our lord and savior!

Alan

We need freedom from the Freedom from Religion Foundation. The majority of us don't want to be atheists. God is the best defense we can have against hurricanes.

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