Ottawa Co. Reverend suing the county for alleged religious discrimination
Below is a news story from WZZM 13 news that speaks to the ministry of our congregation.
OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — An Ottawa County pastor is suing the county for alleged religious discrimination.
St. John’s Episcopal Church The Rev. Jared Cramer filed the lawsuit against Ottawa County, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners and Chairman Joe Moss on Tuesday.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants are denying Rev. Cramer the opportunity to participate in an invocation of prayer at county board meetings.
The Rev. Cramer says in the lawsuit that he has led the invocation of prayer at board meetings in the past but hasn't been invited since the board Moss was elected as the Chairman of the board.
Moss is the founder of the far-right political group Ottawa Impact, whose members gained majority control of the county's board after the last election.
The lawsuit says that since Moss became Chairperson in January, he has solely selected individuals to lead the invocation or prayer, which was a change from the previous board's policy of having rotating commissioners select individuals to offer the prayer.
The lawsuit states that The Rev. Cramer sent two requests via email to Moss, John Gibbs, the Ottawa County Administrator, as well as two other commissioners asking to lead the invocation of prayer. The two requests were sent on May 9 and Aug. 30 and Reverend Cramer says they were never answered.
The Rev. Cramer says in the lawsuit that he was never answered because his church is friendly to the LGBTQ community.
It is alleged that Moss has continually shown bias against the LGBTQ community since his election to the board and that this is a reason why he has not invited The Rev. Cramer to offer the prayer.
The lawsuit claims that the defendants are violating the reverend's 1st Amendment rights.
The Rev. Cramer is seeking that the defendants "abide by a policy of non-discrimination for selecting individuals to lead the invocation at Commission meetings", to be added to the rotating group of individuals who lead the invocation of prayer, as well as any punitive damages incurred.