Back in August, we learned that the Brevard County Commissioners in Florida (below) had limit their invocations to “faith-based” groups — and the Central Florida Freethought Community could only speak during the “Public Comments” portion of the evening.
The Commissioners sent a rejection letter to CFFC and everything. While the atheists are still working out their legal options, the Anti-Defamation League sent its own letter urging the Commissioners to reconsider:
The Commission’s decision to prohibit an atheist from delivering an invocation would most likely violate the standards set forth in the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Greece v. Galloway…
Although this decision significantly broadens the types of opening prayers at meetings of local legislative bodies, invocation practices are not without limitation. Indeed, the Court required that a legislative body must implement a non-discrimination policy with respect to prayer givers. This means that the person who gives an invocation or prayer — whether a public official, member of the clergy, or an ordinary citizen — cannot be denied the prayer opportunity based on his or her faith, including a minority religion or atheism.
This Board has no intention of violating the U.S. Supreme Court by following your flawed interpretation of the Court’s ruling in the Town of Greece case.
The Commission says in its letter that allowing the atheists to deliver an invocation would “show hostility toward the faith-based community,” because atheists, I guess, are all assholes. (I guess none of the Commissioners have bothered to look at the perfectly harmless invocations on the CFFC’s website.)
I’m shocked they’re doing this. And this is after asking the county attorney for advice! They need a better lawyer.
I asked CFFC’s David Williamson what he thought about all of this and his response was just perfect:
Of the many beliefs shared by residents of Brevard County, the idea that this Commission represents all its citizens fairly might be the one we should take on faith since it clearly lacks evidence to support it.
I just can’t imagine this decision by the Commissioners will stand. The question is when, not if, they’ll be hit with a lawsuit.
(Thanks to Brian for the link. Portions of this article were published earlier)