Katy Parker, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, released the following statement today in response to statements from House Speaker Thom Tillis and House Majority Leader Paul "Skip" Stam regarding an ACLU-NCLF letter sent on Feb. 2 to Attorney General Roy Cooper:

"A crucial component of an individual’s freedom of religion and belief is for the government to remain neutral on matters of religion and not show a preference for one individual's views over another's. This fundamentally American concept is a bedrock of our democracy and was enshrined by our Founders into the Constitution's First Amendment. As private individuals, members of the General Assembly are free to pray on their own in whatever way they choose. But when a prayer is used in a government chamber to open the legislature representing North Carolinians of all faiths and beliefs, the law clearly states that the prayer cannot be specific to one religion, whether offered by a legislator or by an invited prayer-giver. This practice ensures that North Carolinians of all beliefs can participate in their government without feeling alienated or excluded."