The city of Hattiesburg, Miss., shouldn’t be using city resources and public tax dollars to promote a May 2 religious observance, FFRF Staff Attorney Elizabeth Cavell told Mayor Johnny L. DuPree in an April 9 letter of complaint.
The event being publicized as the “Mayor’s Annual Prayer Breakfast” is being held at the city-owned Lake Terrace Convention Center and features renowned gospel singer Andraé Crouch, who is also a Church of God in Christ pastor.
According to information on the city’s website, tickets ($40 or $320 for a table) can only be purchased by sending payment to the city. The registration form asks for checks made payable to “Mayor’s Community Activity Fund.”
A city press release directs those interested in learning more about the religious event to Kathleen Hartfield, a city administrative assistant whose city phone number is included.
The city’s promotional materials include a quote from Mark 9:29, “And he said to them, This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” The breakfast coincides with the evangelical National Day of Prayer. “Given the high degree of city involvement and entanglement in the event, this conduct is government espousal of religion,” Cavell noted.