Windward City Lights celebration controversy

Published: Nov. 27, 2011 at 4:21 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 28, 2011 at 3:17 AM HST
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Mitch Kahle
Mitch Kahle

KANEOHE (HawaiiNewsNow) - A First Amendment battle almost disrupted a city-sponsored family event. A group planned to protest a pastor's prayer at Saturday night's Windward City Lights celebration. Pastor Tom Landeza of Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay was slated to do the invocation at the festival, but that did not happen. Members of the group Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church blame Honolulu mayor Peter Carlisle. They claim the mayor knew about their planned protest ahead of time and decided to cancel the pastor's prayer. Carlisle, however, said he did not cut anything.

"They're entitled to their opinion and we're entitled to ours, and that's straightforward, and if they want to believe what they believe, they have the right to do that," said Carlisle.

"The mayor of the city and county of Honolulu has decided to inject his own personal religion into these programs, and that violates the constitutional separation of church and state," said activist Mitch Kahle. "We've warned Mayor Carlisle that religion and public events should not be mixed and that we will not tolerate religion in government activities."

During a public prayer on the last day of the 2010 legislative session, Kahle stood up and protested prayer in government.

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