S. Carolina governor accused of violating Constitution with prayers before news conferences

A Freedom from Religion Foundation attorney says the practice violates the First Amendment's establishment clause prohibiting government from favoring one religion over others.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster delivers the State of the State address
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster delivers the State of the State address at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C., on Jan. 23, 2019.Sean Rayford / AP file

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By Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A national organization says South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is violating the Constitution by holding prayers before press conferences.

News outlets report the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the governor's office concerning two prayers earlier this month before press conferences regarding Hurricane Dorian.

Foundation attorney Ryan Jayne says the practice violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits government from favoring one religion over others.

A spokesperson for the governor, Brian Symmes, says as long as McMaster is governor and the state has to prepare for dangerous storms, there will be a chaplain saying prayers before press conferences.

The foundation also sent McMaster a letter in January concerning prayers before press conferences for Hurricane Florence last September.