In Florida, the Lakeland City Council members can’t get enough prayer. They invite predominantly Christian people to deliver invocations and they see nothing wrong with this.
What did the council do?
They refused to compromise. Instead, they adopted a resolution (PDF) that would let them continue to have the prayers… but it’d be before the “official” part of the meeting. Literally, minutes before. Like they could pray, say “Amen,” and then say, “Let’s begin the meeting.”
Read that resolution. It’s infuriating.
Jennifer Hancock summarizes it nicely:
They make it clear that they really want to pray before meetings. They then go to great lengths to explain why they think they have the right to pray as a government body. They then go on to say that the city commission will administer an invocation/opening prayer program that only religious clergy are eligible to participate in. But since the law forbids them to endorse any religious views, they are going to add a disclaimer to the agenda stating that they don’t endorse the views of the clergy doing the invoking on any particular day. And just in case the disclaimer that they aren’t endorsing the opening prayers that they just went to great lengths to justify as their right isn’t enough, they are going to do the opening prayers before the official start of the meeting and therefore take it off the “official” agenda (wink wink).
The Atheists of Florida say they’re “keeping their options open.” Seems like a pretty big loophole — one other cities will surely take advantage of — if Lakeland is allowed to do this.
I hope the atheists can find a way to fight back.