Atheists Accuse D.C. Mayor-Elect of Discrimination

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An atheist group in Washington, D.C., is protesting that they aren't being invited to take part in a prayer service. 

The service is called "One City, Praying Together," the first official event at Mayor-elect Vincent Gray's inauguration on Jan. 2.

Secular Coalition for America complained that it is discriminatory to exclude atheists from a service meant to unite all of D.C.

"We would prefer that a government function such as an inauguration not be entwined with religion," said Amanda Knief, a Humanist Celebrant and government relations manager for SCA.

"However, we find it overtly discriminatory when we request to be part of an ecumenical service that is supposed to unite the entire city and are told there is no place for non-theists because the program is already set," she said.

SCA officials say they believe they can be part of a prayer service without actually praying and without believing in the God that everyone else there will be praying to.

The group is trying to decide whether to organize a protest at the prayer service if plans aren't altered to include atheists.

The D.C.-area has many secular groups, including the Washington Area Secular Humanists, Washington Ethical Society, DC Atheists, Capital Beltway Ateists, the DC Center of Inquiry, and the secular Jewish Machar community.

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