Humanists to FL County Officials: Rescinding an Atheist’s Invocation Invite Was Unconstitutional March 13, 2017

Humanists to FL County Officials: Rescinding an Atheist’s Invocation Invite Was Unconstitutional

Last week, we posted about how Andre Ryland of the Humanists of West Florida was scheduled to give the invocation at a meeting of the Escambia County Commissioners in Florida. 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But at the last second, his invitation was rescinded because Robinson thought that Ryland was going to invite Satanist David Suhor to essentially tag-team the invocation with him.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 suggested that a government official canceled an invocation based on the viewpoint of the person delivering it, something that’s undoubtedly illegal.

Now the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center is getting involved, telling the Commissioners that their decision was “discriminatory and unconstitutional.”

“Mr. Ryland was looking forward to solemnizing the meetings, as representatives from other belief systems have many times before,” said Monica Miller, Senior Counsel at the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “The Commission’s decision to revoke Mr. Ryland’s invitation is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause, as well as the Equal Protection Clause, and can only be interpreted as religious discrimination.”

You can read the full letter here.

This is the problem with allowing invocations at all. When you open the door to Christian pryers, you’re also opening the door to non-traditional invocations that will inevitably rub some people the wrong way. Unless elected officials are willing to accept that, they’re better off eliminating invocations altogether.

(Portions of this article were published earlier)

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