What a letdown: PTC’s Learnard, like atheist, wants to stop prayers


What a letdown in Fayette County to read in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where Peachtree City Councilwoman Kim Learnard told a reporter that the city ought to ditch the invocation at City Council meetings in agreement with atheist activist Al Stefanelli.

Councilwoman Learnard and Mr. Stefanelli have an overwhelming desire to drag our local governments out of our Judeo-Christian ideals. Their secular humanist drive against public prayer totally neglects how those same Judeo-Christian ideals shaped our legal system and our societal values here in the United States.

No one is going to require a religious test or a proclamation of a certain faith in order to be eligible to hold elected office in Fayette County. On the other hand, no one should have to suffer Councilwoman Learnard and Mr. Stefanelli’s disdain for religion by removing all mention of God from our local governments.

A couple of years ago an atheist group called Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit against prayer at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration. In another case, Michael Newdow fought to have the words “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation complaint also sought to enjoin Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., from adding the phrase “So help me God” to the presidential oath of office.

Peachtree City’s Mayor Don Haddix is holding firm on keeping the invocations at the beginning of our local government meetings. The mayor does so at great peril as Councilwoman Learnard is prone to file censure indictments against those who disagree with her.

Mayor Haddix already has the stripes of the previous censure on his back because he dared to give an opposing view to the three-member majority of his city council.

My family sends a big “thank you” to Mayor Haddix for his courage to take a stand against the tyranny of his colleagues.

As for Councilwoman Learnard, if Mayor Haddix wants us to look at moving to another regional to avoid funding MARTA, that’s being “negative” because she disagrees, but if she wants to rid all of our local governments of references to God, she thinks that perfectly all right.

The people like Councilwoman Learnard and Mr. Stefanelli are showing a fundamental misunderstanding of what the First Amendment is all about. The establishment of religion that is prohibited by the First Amendment means the official declaration of an authorized national church. It doesn’t mean public ceremonies can’t include prayers or the acknowledgment of the existence of God.

Councilwoman Learnard can say anything she wishes to the contrary. She has the right under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to say that she doubts the existence of God and to promote any belief she wants at any local government meeting. She can make it an official City Council meeting agenda item.

We’ve seen our share of local elected officials trying to convince us that they know better than we do about what’s best for us. Some of them say we need to build the West Fayetteville Bypass. Some say we need mass transit in Fayette County. Some say God is no longer necessary.

In the Sept. 3, Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, Councilwoman Learnard said, “If I were mayor, I’d start our meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance and then we’d move into city business [bypassing the innovation].” Actually, had she thought about it, she would abolish the pledge as well because it says, “One Nation under God …” and we can’t have mention of God at our local meetings.

Tell Councilwoman Learnard your opinion (klearnard@peachtree-city.org). Stop the foolishness.

David Barlow

Tyrone, Ga.