I believe some of the current controversy around the Pierce County Prayer Breakfast could be cleared up if the Tacoma Christian Laymen’s Outreach would simply change the name of the annual event.
The name implies that this event is a public event hosted by Pierce County, which it is not. I had long wondered why Pierce County held a Christian prayer breakfast and why government leaders participated in a public religious observance.
I was relieved to find out this is not actually the case. It is time for the Christian Outreach group to put its private name on its private event.
I also think it is important that government officials make sure their actions and attendance at private events, especially religious events, cannot be construed as government affiliation or endorsement of the event/religion.
Religious groups should also keep in mind that government officials attending their event does not mean their cause is government backed. Officials attend to welcome and convene this prayer breakfast just as they might welcome 1,500 shoe salesmen at a convention in the Tacoma Dome. The government is not there to endorse the brand of shoe or Christianity.
I am all for religious groups having whatever speakers, events or worship they wish (within the law), no matter my personal views of their beliefs. However, I am vehemently against direct, or indirect, support, endorsement or affiliation by our government of private religious events.