Atheist group may sue over Fla. county invocation

By Dave Berman

 

A central Florida county could face a religious-discrimination lawsuit from an organization of atheists and agnostics after the Brevard County Commission said the organization is not the type of group that would be permitted to give the opening invocation at commission meetings.

Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously voted to send David Williamson of Oviedo, Fla., founder and chair of the Central Florida Freethought Community, a letter, saying his group does not qualify to deliver the invocation, which the commission defined as “an opening prayer, presented by members of our faith community.”

The letter said, as an alternative, a representative of the group could speak for three minutes during the public comment period near the end of the commission meeting.

Central Florida Freethought Community members and supporters argue that’s not the same thing, and Williamson said he would consult with legal experts on what his group’s next step will be.

“It was very disappointing that the vote was 5-0,” said Williamson. “Everyone can be treated equal, except when it comes to religion, it appears. What we were seeking is inclusion.”

 

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21 COMMENTS

    • Agreed, This is a trivial matter. Getting the “legal experts” involved means everyone loses except the commission members. (they will not be the ones paying the legal fees). Far better to simply ignore the “the opening invocation” … chat about the weather, call a friend on you mobile phone, etc. just assume the meeting does not start until after “the opening invocation”.

      (I think alf1200 was being sarcastic.)

        • You go ahead and speak your mind alf1200.

          if you’ve reached the age of consent you’re entitled to do so, I only ask that children are left alone, to learn how to learn and make up their own minds.

          I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s unnatural and wicked to impose sex on them before they’re mature enough, so why do so with religious beliefs.

          There are innumerable other subjects to occupy their minds and stimulate them; matters which can be verified and falsified, which of course religious faith can never be.

          Personally, as an English bloke, I’ve never yet come across negative discrimination due to my world view; were I to do so the perpetrator would receive a very smart metaphorical punch in the gob.

          Although I was once told by a Catholic cleric that he felt sorry for me because I didn’t believe in anything, but so taken aback was I, that he’d moved out of the way before I could catch my breath and say anything, and since he was a total stranger I’d met in a pub I didn’t pursue him or it; but if it ever happens again watch this space!

  1. Yes and so they should sue these idiots that think they can discriminate against people which choose not to believe in the utter nonsense that is religion. Prayer is the most useless act that has ever been invented, its a waste of energy and a waste of time.

  2. I’m sympathetic to those who see this as a waste of money. However I also see that unless people make a royal pain in the arse of themselves people will just keep treading all over them in a thousand little ways. It’ a bit like feminism in the 1970’s, If you don’t believe me just look at some 1970’s TV and look at the level of blatant sexism and racism evident.

    It may well be that changing the culture requires doing loads of these things until people start to understand how ignorant all these little intrusions into secular life really are. Think also of why the religious are trying so hard to squeeze themselves into every aspect of life and government, it’s an attempt to inflict their religion into our governments and keep it there. I say on balance fight on, fight them everywhere they stick their heads out and insist we all bow down. Little by little we can make complete pains of ourselves, this will gather attention from media and give us the opportunity to confront them with their narrow bigoted views each time more will realise we (in-spite of being pains) have a point. If we do nothing they will continue until our whole world is full of religion.

    • You are correct. The chosen battleground of bigotry is always perceived “common sense”. We’ve seen it in the feminism movement and LGBT equality as well.

      The battle plan is to find a way to insult your target directly while appearing not to to onlookers ignorant of the issue at stake, that your target is an irrational trouble-maker. So in the 70s if a woman objected to sexist content on TV, we’d all be reminded of the act of “bra burning”.

      The gay pride movement started to create equality and acceptance and was fought on the grounds of “promoting homosexuality to children”.

      Environmentalism is mainstream now but was once dismissed as some loony-left hippie thing.

      There used to be a thing called racism. that died out years ago apparently. sorry no it didn’t and before you get all wound up about a surrendering, unarmed 18year old boy being shot 6 times by the police; let’s not forget as the media in america reminds us he was “no angel”

      In any war the first casualty is the truth and when fighting for equality you have to be a pain in the arse, even if that means becoming a parody of your own cause. Right now in America all those god-botherers who believe in an all-powerful deity, are getting hysterical about atheists trying to, and apparently succeding in, “banishing god from classrooms”. Just like tinkerbell, god dies unless enough children shout “we believe”, all at the same time, when instructed.

      If you have to be disproportionate in your response to reach equality (which you always do have to), then you should. Soon it’ll be that time of year when we’re all reminded of how the atheists tried to steal christmas. yes they have nothing better to do than waste public money suing god-fearing folk while all the time secretly planning to steal your turkey. It’s not nice to go wasting taxpayers money on what seems something trivial but taxpayers money is wasted daily in keeping tax exempt political organizations running so if it draws the fire of “how much is this costing the taxpayer?” then good. It’s a question that isn’t asked enough

  3. As an evangelical Christian, I distinguish between my religion and civil religion. I find this situation in Brevard county both sad and ironic given that the early Christians were persecuted for not taking part in the civil religion of their day. I would prefer no prayer at all or a moment of silence at best. I honestly don’t think that a lawsuit would be the best response. After all, who knows how the issue would be decided by the current set of justices in the Supreme Court. In my opinion, this is one of those practices which will eventually drop by the wayside as our society becomes increasingly pluralistic when it comes matters of faith and belief. However, I can also understand why others are tired of being treated like second class citizens.

  4. From the NIV of the Christian Bible, the Gospel of Matthew Ch. 6:

    5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

    I think they should work to get this entered into the meeting minutes at every subsequent meeting until the Brevard County commissioners get the hint.

  5. One thing that should be noted about us “non-believers” in the USA (about 35 million total non-believers in the US). The high number in the UK seems to be 40% of the population as non-believers or about 25 million.

    I do admit that the US gains some particular attention when this kind of Florida activity occurs, but the US has a very large population of critically thinking people. That being said, George W. Bush was elected (debatable) President by the same kind of people in this Florida case.

    Unfortunately when critically thinking non-believers are a minority of the population, we end up with (too often), people in control of this country who believe angels are real. Arguing with people who believe as adults in fairies, Snoopy, Christ, or one of the many other adorable childhood characters is just plain difficult.

    God help us!

  6. The “Central Florida Freethought Community (For the Separation of State and Church)” calls for the following:

    “Below you will find every secular reflection (invocation) we could find along with videos when available as well as the duration and word count. If you are crafting your own invocation, remember that each speaker has a different pace (125 to 200+ wpm). If you know of an invocation/reflection we have missed, please message us via our Contact Us page.

    We maintain the position that religious prayer has no place at local government meetings since the public attend and participate. However, in light of the recent Supreme Court decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway, we have decided the best possible action we can take, for now, is to ensure the decision is fully enforced. This includes providing opportunities for ALL faith traditions and NON-believers seeking the opportunity to participate and ensuring that no pattern of prayer exists which denigrates, proselytizes, or advances any one, or to disparage any other.

    So far we have sent 20 letters requesting inclusion and have received very positive responses from everyone contacted. Here are the upcoming secular reflections/invocations in Central Florida…with more on the way!

    Lake County – August 26, 2014
    Seminole County – September 9, 2014
    City of Ocoee – October 7, 2014
    City of Tavares – December 3, 2014
    Town of Lady Lake – December 1, 2014
    More – Coming Soon!”

    Definitions of “invocation”:

    invocation
    [in-vuh-key-shuh n]

    noun
    1.
    the act of invoking or calling upon a deity, spirit, etc., for aid, protection, inspiration, or the like; supplication.
    2.
    any petitioning or supplication for help or aid.
    3.
    a form of prayer invoking God’s presence, especially one said at the beginning of a religious service or public ceremony.
    4.
    an entreaty for aid and guidance from a Muse, deity, etc., at the beginning of an epic or epiclike poem.
    5.
    the act of calling upon a spirit by incantation.
    6.
    the magic formula used to conjure up a spirit; incantation.
    7.
    the act of calling upon or referring to something, as a concept or document, for support and justification in a particular circumstance.
    8.
    the enforcing or use of a legal or moral precept or right.

    “Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously voted to send David Williamson of Oviedo, Fla., founder and chair of the Central Florida Freethought Community, a letter, saying his group does not qualify to deliver the invocation, which the commission defined as “an opening prayer, presented by members of our faith community.”

    The letter said, as an alternative, a representative of the group could speak for three minutes during the public comment period near the end of the commission meeting.

    Central Florida Freethought Community members and supporters argue that’s not the same thing, and Williamson said he would consult with legal experts on what his group’s next step will be.”

    By gum, bring on the lawyers!

    • toroid Aug 29, 2014 at 9:50 am

      “Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously voted to send David Williamson of Oviedo, Fla., founder and chair of the Central Florida Freethought Community, a letter, saying his group does not qualify to deliver the invocation, which the commission defined as “an opening prayer, presented by members of our faith community.”

      Mmmmm? That’s an interesting alleged social grouping! “Our FAITH community” : – Moslems, Catholics, Buddhists, Satanists, Wiccans, Pastafarians ? ? ?

      It seems to be based on a rationality averse, evidence-free, thinking disability!

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