FFRF helps ensure invocations open to all (May 2024)

FFRF has taken action to ensure that all residents of a Michigan county are treated on par with Christian prayer-givers.

The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners, which opens its board meetings with invocations, agreed that a member of The Satanic Temple could deliver an invocation at its April 23 meeting. On March 21, Commissioner Jacob Bonnema claimed, however, that “satanists” shouldn’t be allowed to do this because it violates “Christian values.”

Singling out a religious denomination by denying them an opportunity to deliver an invocation despite allowing similarly situated Christian leaders to offer invocations amounts to a clear violation of the First Amendment, FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line reminded the board.

FFRF urged the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners to uphold the constitutional rights of all residents of Ottawa County by allowing invocations from any resident regardless of personal religious beliefs — or better yet, to eliminate the practice entirely.

It has received a response from Ottawa County Board Chair Joe Moss acknowledging that “board leadership prioritizes freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and religious freedom.” FFRF is confident this response indicates that members of The Satanic Temple, other religious minorities and the nonreligious will be permitted to deliver invocations in Ottawa County.

Freedom From Religion Foundation