Maryland Legislator Attacks Senior Center Dissenter

A Maryland woman has come under attack by a state delegate after raising concerns about Christian prayers before meals at a senior center.

Margaret Sayre, a 70-year-old attendee at the Brooklyn Park Senior Center, objected to the use of Christian prayer before each meal. According to The Maryland Gazette, she inquired about the constitutionality of the practice with the state Department of Aging, as well as with American Atheists, a national advocacy group.

The newspaper reported in July that state Del. Don Dwyer Jr. became aware of Sayre’s objection and wrote a letter to her in which he suggested that Sayre “leave my people alone.”

“If the atheist (sic) of Maryland want something different then I would suggest building an atheist Senior Center where you won’t have to hear any prayers but leave my people alone,” wrote Dwyer in a March 15 letter.

American Atheists released a statement in late June decrying Dwyer’s action.

“This is not Christianity versus atheism, it’s about government being neutral in terms of religion and a representative treating constituents with the respect they deserve,” the American Atheists statement read.

Dwyer told the Gazette that he couldn’t understand the basis for Sayre’s objection.

“There is no separation of church and state in the Constitution that the atheists profess it to be,” he said.