An atheist group's complaint in Tennessee doesn't have a prayer, says a religious liberty attorney.
Atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation has warned the Johnson City Police Department to dump an "Adopt a Cop" prayer program for its officers or face a possible lawsuit.
As the title suggests, the campaign calls on local residents to "adopt" a police officer and pray for that person.
"There is no such constitutional provision that provides for a freedom from religion," attorney Nate Kellum of The Center for Religious Expression says, referring to the atheist group's name.
"It's a freedom of religion," he adds, "and that's what they ignore here in trying to attack this program."
A police officer has the constitutional right to freedom of religion, whether at home or church or at the police precinct, Kellum says.
A two-page letter from the atheist group demands Johnson City stop "Adopt a Cop," even though it admits that support for the program is coming from an outside group, the International Transformation Network.
Even so, the atheists claim, the police department is prohibited from promoting or endorsing the program.
The letter openly mocks the program for "wishing" for officers' safety, referring to people's prayers, and also states that a chaplain should not be on staff at the police department.
Kellum says Freedom From Religion is a small organization that achieves success through bulling small municipalities that are afraid of expensive litigation.
A lawsuit against Johnson City is possible, says the attorney, but he predicts it would fail.