The city of Warren, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, is the site of a separation of church and state controversy with a Wisconsin-based group, the Freedom from Religion foundation, challenging a “prayer station” set up in the town’s City Hall. According to the Detroit Free Press, the station is to offer solace to residents experiencing job loss and other economic woes.

‘This is ridiculous. Prayer should be private,’ said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Wisconsin-based nonprofit, according to the Free Press. ‘A government is supposed to be neutral when it comes to religion.’

The prayer station was established by the city’s Tabernacle Church. It is being rented free of charge because the church is a non-profit, according to Warren’s Mayor Jim Founts. Founts is no stranger to controversy himself, recently calling for General Motors to leave Detroit’s Renaissance Center and move to Warren.

According to the Free Press, a law professor at Wayne State University, Robert Sedler, said so long as the city makes such space available to all groups there are no legal issues involved.

Tim Yeager, head of the Communist Party’s newly constituted Religion Commission, voiced a similar view. “I’m a fan of the separation of church of state but churches should be able to use public property, as well as well as non-religious groups so long as the city’s not advocating a religious point of view.”

Yeager questioned whether the space was available to the church on a permanent basis and if other groups got that kind of consideration. “If not then that would be crossing the line,” he added.

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