At a meeting last night of the Escambia County Commissioners in Florida, Andre Ryland of the Humanists of West Florida was scheduled to give the invocation. He was invited by Commissioner Grover Robinson and had a speech ready to give.
But at the last second, his invitation was rescinded because Robinson thought that Ryland was going to invite Satanist David Suhor to essentially tag-team the invocation with him. Ryland wasn’t going to do that — though he was going to invoke some of The Satanic Temple’s Seven Fundamental Tenets — and rescinding his invitation suggests that a government official canceled an invocation based on the viewpoint of the person delivering it, something that’s undoubtedly illegal.
“He censored my right to give that invocation per the Supreme Court ruling Galloway v. Greece and I think he’s made a mistake,” Ryland said.
David Suhor with the Satanic Temple of West Florida said it was disappointing.
“I think today is a beautiful example of the county commissioners censoring the content of an invocation when they became aware that the invocation would include some of the Satanic Temple’s principles,” Suhor said.
This is the same County that has denied Suhor himself from giving a Satanic invocation. In January, several atheists spoke in defense of Suhor, saying that the invocations should be canceled altogether if elected officials couldn’t find a way to make them neutral. Robinson’s response at the time was that atheists were trying to use the Constitution to “defend only what you want to,” as if a neutral, inclusive policy was somehow anti-Christian.
What a disaster this is for the County. They’re denying the opportunity to give an invocation to the few non-Christians requesting that chance. And why? Because they’re ignorant of the law, they’re ignorant of what Humanists might say, and because they don’t seem to give a damn about the consequences. What they need is a court order to do the right thing since they’ve shown they won’t do it on their own.
Suhor told me last night:
I personally think that after three years of asking for the Commission to obey SCOTUS and the establishment/prohibiting clause and present a policy [that describes what kind of invocations are allowed and who can deliver them], we’re beyond polite decorum and nearly into civil disobedience.
If a lawsuit is filed, I’ll post an update.