South Carolina GOP governor accused of violating First Amendment by leading prayers before press conferences

South Carolina GOP governor accused of violating First Amendment by leading prayers before press conferences
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South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) was reportedly accused of violating the U.S. Constitution by holding prayers before press conferences.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national nonprofit that promotes the separation of church and state, sent a letter to McMaster’s office in response to two prayers that he led earlier this month before speaking to reporters about the threat of Hurricane Dorian, which made its way up the coast of the state, The Associated Press reports.

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Ryan Jayne, an attorney for the foundation, alleged his prayers violate the First Amendment and its clause barring the government from showing preference to one religion over another, according to the AP.

The foundation also mailed a letter to McMaster in January about prayers he gave before press conferences about Hurricane Florence in September 2018, the AP reported.

A spokesman in the governor’s office, Brian Symmes, told The Hill in a statement that there will be a chaplain saying prayers before press conferences for as long as McMaster is the state’s chief executive and the state has to prepare for major storms.

"For as long as Henry McMaster is the governor of South Carolina, and we have to prepare for these dangerous storms, there will be a chaplain saying a prayer before each of those press conferences," Symmes said. "For every person who may get offended, countless South Carolinians likely gain strength, guidance, and comfort from these prayers."

Updated: 2:55 p.m.