AUGUSTA – Tom Waddell said he was going
to make an “inspired invocation” to start the day for the Maine House of
Representatives after acknowledging Speaker Sara Gideon and Rep. Kent Ackley, a
liberal independent legislator who represents him in the Maine House.
It was unusual that Waddell, of all people, was listed on the calendar to offer the morning prayer, because Waddell is the President of the Maine Chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an anti-religion group for atheists and agnostics.
While Waddell’s “prayer” was itself mild and did not seem to stir any controversy, the organization he was representing is not shy about criticizing and mocking people of faith, particularly Christians and Jews.
On the website of the national Freedom
From Religion Foundation, several scrolling images directly on the front page mock
Christians for their beliefs.
One image shows a man holding up a
cross, saying “This is the only obstetrical equipment we need!”
Another shows two children walking down the street with one of the children
saying the separation of church and state means “when the church separates the
state from its school money.”
And a third shows a woman’s face in a graphic that looks like the horns of Satan
with the words “NOT AFRAID OF BURNING IN HELL” and “UNABASHED ATHEIST” under
In an ironic twist, the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s official Twitter account today railed against organized prayer in state legislatures, as can be seen in the tweet embedded below.
from Religion Foundation is known for filing lawsuits against Christian and
Jewish groups and individuals across the country.
Those suits include an attack on a World War II memorial statue of Jesus, an attempt to force the state of Ohio to remove the Star of David from a Holocaust memorial and an attempt to intimidate cheerleaders into ending their practice of putting Bible verses on spirit banners.
While their lawsuits have largely been failures, one of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s slogans is “nothing fails like prayer” and the group even runs an annual Nothing Fails Like Prayer Essay Contest.
Literally the first rule of the first section of the Rules of the Maine House of Representatives state:
“Rule 101. Chaplains. Every morning the House on assembling shall join with the Chaplains in religious service. On the first legislative day of each week, the National Anthem must follow the religious service. Every morning the House after assembling shall recite the pledge of allegiance.”
It is unclear who determined that a “prayer” from an anti-religion advocate qualifies as a religious service under House rules.