An atheist group has asked the Memphis City Council to stop praying before meetings.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation claims that practice violates the so-called separation of church and state.
The group says it has studied the city council prayers since January and found them to be mostly Christian, often using the name of Jesus.
But the council chairman says he does not believe the prayers are unconstitutional and locals are voicing support for the council.
Marilyn Loeffel, columnist for the Memphis Commercial Appeal wrote Tuesday of the atheists:
"They have the right to voice their opinions... but so do the rest of us. And we will not submit to threats.
"I say shame on believers for staying in their holy huddles and letting this intimidation happen. We have allowed the atheists to dictate where, when, how and if we pray."
*Originally published September 22, 2009