It's a common tradition among Christians to bow their heads and offer a prayer of thanksgiving over their meals. But that tradition has come to an end in Port Wentworth, GA. Senior citizens who eat their meals at the local senior center have been ordered to stop praying over the food. Instead, the elderly were told they could take part in a moment of silence.
The meals are provided by a group called Senior Citizens, Inc. Officials said they are just following guidelines determined by the federal government.
Tim Rutherford, a vice president of the organization, told WSB TV that since the meals are mostly funded by tax dollars, there's a separation of church-state issue at play. "We can't scoff at their rules," he told the television station. "It's part of the operational guidelines."
Rutherford stressed that they weren't forbidding people to pray - just out loud. "We're asking them to pray to themselves," he told WSB. "Have that moment of silence."
As you might imagine, folks in Port Wentworth, located in the heart of the BibleBelt, are outraged.
Mayor Glenn "Pig" Jones had to deliver the news to the elderly residents of his town, calling it one of the hardest things he's ever had to do.
"For me to look at their eyes and tell them they can't thank God for their food - it's unheard of - I can't take it," he told the Savannah Morning News.
As one elderly lady said - the government may be able to stop her from speaking - but they can't stop her from praying what's in her heart.