Days After Eliminating Invocations, Winter Garden City Commissioners (FL) Ask Their Lawyer for a Do-Over September 12, 2014

Days After Eliminating Invocations, Winter Garden City Commissioners (FL) Ask Their Lawyer for a Do-Over

You may recall that Mayor John Rees, the leader of the Winter Garden City Commissioners (in Florida), kicked atheist Joseph Richardson out of a meeting a couple of weeks ago 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 by attending the city’s next meeting (which took place last night) and remaining seated during the invocation and Pledge in solidarity with Richardson.

But just after they announced that, the commissioners convened for a special meeting. They were considering three possible options: replacing the invocations with a moment of silence, opening up the invocations to everybody (including — *gasp* — atheists), or eliminating the invocation and Pledge altogether.

They decided to go with the moment of silence while also allowing people to stay seated during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Victory, right?!

Not quite. Yesterday, during their regular meeting, the commissioners asked their legal counsel for a do-over:

Before debating regular business Thursday, Rees asked city attorney Kurt Ardaman to bring the commission another policy. He did not specify his preference but he said last week he preferred to keep prayer as a part of the ceremonial opening.

Commissioner Kent Makin who had voted to replace the prayer with a moment of silence also said he has had second thoughts.

“I don’t feel satisfied with the vote I gave,” Makin said. “Let’s take some time and review this and come up with a different policy.”

The problem was solved! And now they want to go back to screw it all up?!

Given their previous options, if they went with having invocations again, two things would happen:

1) Non-Christian groups would have to be allowed to give those invocations. That means the commissioners would have to say yes to atheists, Wiccans, Pagans, Satanists, Scientologists, Muslims, Hindus, and every other group that makes them tense up.

2) People could still remain seated during those invocations, which means we’re right back to where we were a few weeks ago. I thought Rees was trying to avoid that.

I would love it if Ardaman just responded to them with a roll of his eyes and a sheet of paper that says, “There are no other alternatives. Just move on with real business.”

(Thanks to Brian for the link. Portions of this article were posted earlier)

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