Back in August, during a meeting of the Flagler County School Board in Florida, an unannounced and unexpected speaker began delivering a prayer in front of the crowd. Pastor Jeanine Clontz told everyone to bow their heads in prayer as they began the school year.
The school board’s chair, Janet McDonald, soon said she was responsible for inviting Clontz, and she did it in the hope that it would begin a “new tradition.”
Her new tradition would be illegal, of course. School board meetings are not church services, and courts have repeatedly said there’s a difference between those and city council meetings where invocations are now permitted. More to the point, what McDonald wanted was to make the meeting uncomfortable for atheists, Muslims, Jews, and everyone else who’s not part of the Christian majority. What the hell was she thinking?
The board’s attorney got them to add further discussion of the matter to a future meeting. She clearly need some time to explain how, if Christian prayers were allowed, then Satanic ones would have to be allowed as well.
There have, in fact, been multiple meetings where the prayers were discussed since August. But yesterday, the board decided to officially end the practice before it could ever formally begin. It’s the right move.
One of the five board members who was considering allowing the prayer even cited Satanists as a reason to vote against the proposal. (Lucien’s Law for the win!)
In the end, School Board member Colleen Conklin, who had been conflicted over the issue, opted against it. She said she had no doubt that prayer at meetings was legal and permissible [Hemant’s note: She is wrong]. But citing her own research, she said “almost every single one of them eventually spirals down into a complete circus show, literally google it and watch,” she said. “School board meeting prayers, all you have to do is watch videos, and it turns into satanic members hailing Satan to come down over this district.” She also rejected the occasional claim that prayer has been banished from schools. “Prayer is allowed in school. Students can pray. They’re more than allowed to pray,” Conklin said.
I find it downright hilarious that she found YouTube videos of Satanists giving invocations and decided immediately that would not occur on her watch. She had a perfectly legitimate reason to vote against the proposal — everyone can pray on their own whenever they want — but it was The Satanic Temple that pushed her over the edge. Amazing.
Sheila Zinkerman, a member of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, gave a public comment at that meeting urging the board members to abandon their silly prayer idea.
“America has the most diverse religious population in the world. Don’t make our children feel like outsiders by sanctioning a potpourri of theist, atheist, and other traditions through School Board invocations and prayer. Keep the prayer where it is most accepted and welcomed by all — in the homes and in places of worship.”
The vote was eventually 4-1 against the invocation idea. The members avoided a potential lawsuit, unnecessary controversy, and (sadly) a bevy of Satanic and Pagan and atheist invocations that would have been requested the moment such a policy went into effect. Oh well. We can deal with it.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)