Two Fla. cities drop government prayers from meetings

FFRF welcomes the news that two Florida cities, Coral Springs and Deerfield Beach, have recently dropped their invocations at city meetings in favor of a moment of silence. In both cases, FFRF sent letters to back up local activist Chaz Stevens, who started a Satanist Church in Deerfield Beach and petitioned the cities to allow him lead a Satanist prayer.

Coral Beach changed its mind this week, voting to end its longstanding policy of opening meetings with a religious invocation. Noting that the recent Supreme Court decision Greece v. Galloway requires cities to allow prayer from all faiths or no faith, Mayor Skip Campbell said, “I don’t think our citizens would be in favor of Satanic invocations before City Commission meetings.”

The Deerfield Beach City Commission also dropped prayer earlier this year in favor of a moment of silence after Stevens asked to deliver an invocation. Commissioner Gloria Battle threatened to leave if Stevens was permitted to give his invocation.

Commissioner Joe Miller, on the other hand, said that he believed in God and Jesus, but said that “doesn’t mean I don’t welcome my Jewish brother and my nonbelieving brother . . . We are elected to serve the public, atheists, Satanists, Jewish, everyone.” Miller echoed FFRF’s position on the matter when he said he couldn’t favor keeping the invocation on the basis of tradition, noting, “There are many traditions in the early years of our city that are not a great precedent for how to move forward in a multicultural society.”

Stevens has his sights set on other Florida cities’ invocations, including Pompano Beach.

FFRF, along with Americans United, the ACLU, and the ACLU of Florida, is also currently involved in a lawsuit against another Florida government body, the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners, which excludes nonbelievers from offering invocations.

FFRF is a national nonprofit state/church watchdog with more than 23,000 members, including over 1,100 members and a chapter in Florida.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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