Susan Narvaiz, mayor of San Marcos, Texas, sent a letter to area clergy and congregations inviting them to "a community wide prayer gathering" to pray for the city's sister city, Santiago, Mexico, and its mayor who was recently tragically killed. This prayer event took place Aug. 30, 2010.
Adding to the inappropriateness of a government-sponsored community prayer event, the mayor wrote the clergy:
"Also, August 30th marks the one year anniversary since we held a prayer meeting for rain, we will give thanks for the rain that we have been so blessed with this year. Please let me know if you have any questions, we believe this is the right thing to do to show our support for Santiago, and we need your help!"
It is a serious violation of our treasured constitutional principle of the separation between church and state for any elected official to hold a public prayer service, or to enjoin citizens to pray at all. Prayer is something that Thomas Jefferson as president pointed out was beyond the purview of elected officials. Elected officials hold civil powers alone.
This is not the first time that San Marcos is in the news for mixing religion and government. The San Marcos city council prays at its meetings. San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz backs that too, saying "I think it’s our right (to pray at government meetings). It’s our history. If they can do it in Washington, we can do it in San Marcos. I have a belief that it serves a higher purpose to do so."
An interesting point... but the folks "in Washington" are wrong, too.