Last December, atheist activist Preston Smith delivered an invocation at a Lake Worth (Florida) City Commission meeting.
Not only did four of the five commissioners walk out before he had said a single word, Smith represented what could happen when the door for invocations is wide open thanks to Christians wanting to pray at government meetings.
His speech referenced a number of religions and gods:
May we pray together.
Mother Earth, we gather today in your redeeming and glorious presence, to invoke your eternal guidance in the universe, the original Creator of all things.
May the efforts of this council blend the righteousness of Allah with the all-knowing wisdom of Satan. May Zeus, the great God of justice, grant us strength tonight. Jesus might forgive our shortcomings while Buddha enlightens us through His divine affection. We praise you, Krishna, for the sanguine sacrifice that freed us all. After all, if Almighty Thor is with us, who can ever be against us?
And so we pray.
You may not like that invocation, but that’s irrelevant. The point is that if the commissioners weren’t happy with this, all they had to do was stop the invocations altogether.
This week, the commissioners finally took action on the invocation issue. They voted 4-1 to eliminate invocations given by members of the public!
Time to celebrate!
But there’s just one problem…
After a spirited — and sometimes contentious — 75-minute debate, a policy that allowed members of the public to offer a prayer before City Commission meetings was tweaked Tuesday, with commissioners now set to do the honors on a rotating basis.
So now the elected officials plan to deliver the prayers themselves.
That’s absolutely illegal and they’re heading toward a lawsuit. Just think: if every commissioner was Christian, we would expect to hear explicitly Christian prayers at every government meeting. That’s the very thing the Supreme Court’s Greece v Galloway ruling was intended to avoid.
The commissioners basically replaced a legal but unpopular policy with an illegal popular one. It’s not going to end well for them — or the taxpayers if this goes to court.
Once again, if the commissioners aren’t happy with invocations delivered by local citizens, their only option is to get rid of invocations altogether. They can have a moment of silence if they want. But they can’t just shut out the beliefs they don’t agree with.
(Thanks to Brian for the link. Large portions of this article were published earlier)