After Kicking Out Atheist for Sitting During Pledge, Florida City Leaders May Change How It Opens Meetings September 4, 2014

After Kicking Out Atheist for Sitting During Pledge, Florida City Leaders May Change How It Opens Meetings

You may remember that Mayor John Rees, the leader of the Winter Garden City Commissioners (in Florida), kicked atheist Joseph Richardson out of last week’s meeting after he refused to stand for the invocation and Pledge of Allegiance:

Rees singles out Richardson for not standing up

Several atheist members of the Central Florida Freethought Community said they would stage a silent protest next week by attending the city’s upcoming meeting and remaining seated during the invocation and Pledge in solidarity with Thoreau.

That said, it may be unnecessary. The Commissioners plan to hold a special meeting tomorrow to discuss this very incident:

City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said the city has been considering changes to its traditional opening because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May regarding ceremonial prayer, but the commission moved up the issue after Mayor John Rees ordered Winter Garden resident Joseph Richardson to stand for the pledge or be escorted from the chambers by police.

“It’s an important issue that we have to resolve, and we decided we ought to resolve it sooner rather than later,” Bollhoefer said.

It sounds good… but let’s be honest: There are no actual “changes” necessary. The Commission can still have an invocation and Pledge. What has to be fixed is enforcement of the current rules. The Mayor stepped out of line when he kicked an atheist out of the meeting for doing something that was perfectly fine — and not a single member of the Commission called him out on it. I don’t know what they’re going to change, but it would be a step in the right direction if they asked Mayor Rees to offer a sincere apology to Richardson at the next meeting. He may be too stubborn to do that, though.

(Thanks to Brian for the link)


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