Pastor denied permission to hold church services on beach

Pastor Robert Dekker told Fox News he was not allowed to hold services on the beach because it would violate church and state(Fox News)

Local authorities refused permission to a church pastor wanting to hold services on the beach at Rehoboth, Delaware.

City officials denied permission on the grounds that prayer on the beach might violate the separation of church and state.

Pastor Robert Dekker, of New Covenant Presbyterian Church, told Fox News he had been "excited" at the prospect of holding services for the people of Rehoboth at the bandstand. 

But the city manager soon poured cold water on his plans by telling the pastor the services would violate the city's position on church and state.

"That created a real problem for me because my calling as a pastor is to communicate the Gospel by word and by deed to ourselves, to our neighbours, to the world, so that the Gospel might be known by folks.

"So it's really uncomfortable for me to be quieted and say we can't do it," Pastor Dekker told Fox. 

He pointed out the irony that the community of Rehoboth had been founded on Christian principles. 

"It seems very ironic that we are not even able to have the public services there in the summer," he said.

Rehoboth city manager Greg Ferrese said in a response to the pastor: "I am so sorry to inform you that I cannot grant your request to have church services on the public beach in Rehoboth.  I cannot mix Church and State."

Pastor Dekker said he was unsure as to why the city had taken its stance but said "I dont think it's a good policy."

He has responded by hosting a Fourth of July Freedom Rally on the beach.  He will be preaching at the rally, which starts on Independence Day at 9:30am.

Pastor Dekker added: "We want to celebrate the 237th birthday of our country. I understand freedom is important because my father was an immigrant and he didn't take it for granted."

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