The Delaware Valley Americans United chapter (DVAU) is delighted to announce a victory for religious freedom, as the city of Cape May, New Jersey, corrects its position regarding sponsorship of a live broadcast of Pope Francis’ Sunday Mass during the upcoming Papal Visit to Philadelphia PA.
Please see our previous post, DVAU member complaint leads to AU letter to Cape May NJ on Papal Mass broadcast, for details of how a DVAU Chapter member complaint and research by the DVAU Chapter led to Americans United for Separation of Church and State‘s legal department sending a caution letter to the Mayor and City Council of Cape May, regarding their stated intention to sponsor the livestream of the Papal Mass.
Nicole Leonard of the Press of Atlantic City reports: Cape May backs away from Pope Francis broadcast
CAPE MAY — The city of Cape May has backed out of plans to sponsor a live stream of an upcoming papal Mass, but the show will go on.
City officials and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a legal and educational group based in Washington D.C., resolved a dispute over the city’s plans to broadcast Pope Francis’ public Mass in Philadelphia on Sept. 27.
“The city attorney sent us a letter yesterday that confirmed the city would no longer be a sponsor of the event and will no longer be distributing tickets at City Hall,” said Alex Luchenitser, Americans United’s associate legal director.
Americans United complained to officials Sept. 10 that the city’s sponsorship of the papal Mass broadcast at Cape May Convention Hall was in violation of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits government bodies from taking any action that communications a message of endorsement of religion.
The group threatened to file a lawsuit against city officials if they did not amend their plans.
The Mayor complied, and ended the city’s involvement in the live broadcast, sending information back to Americans United to confirm that no taxpayer dollars were being used to sponsor or host the livestream of the Mass.
Monzo submitted a list of such events to Americans United and [AU’s Alex] Luchenitser aid he thought it satisfied concerns about the papal Mass being a free event.
“There’s no need for litigation, but we’ll continue watching the situation to make sure the city lives up to its word and continues to remain separate from the sponsorship of the event,” he said.
NBC Philadelphia also reported on Cape May’s acknowledgement of AU’s letter. Cape May Backs Out of Pope Francis Live Stream Event After Complaint
The Jersey Shore city of Cape May has nixed plans to sponsor a live stream of Pope Francis’ Sept. 27 public Mass in Philadelphia amid threats of legal action.
The Press of Atlantic City reports members of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based advocacy group, filed a formal complaint Sept. 10 speaking out against the event.
The complaint said the papal Mass viewing party at Cape May Convention Hall violated constitutional law prohibiting government bodies from communicating a message of endorsement of religion.
The Cape May Ministerium, a collective of priests representing churches of various denominations, will now sponsor the event.
DVAU is thankful for our chapter members and supporters who have been vigilant in watching for violations of the First Amendment, and for their reports to us when they see problems. We are also grateful to the Legal Department at Americans United for taking swift action on our complaint and achieving our goal of keeping the government neutral on religious matters and activities.