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Freethought Today · April 2016

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Orlando city ceremony includes religious oath

FFRF has learned that at an Orlando, Fla., oath of office ceremony on Jan. 11, there was a Christian invocation and benediction.

The invocation began, "Our heavenly father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" and ended with "In Christ's name, Shalom and Amen." The benediction quoted from the bible and ended, "To him be the glory and Church in Christ, Jesus through all generations forever and ever, Shalom and Amen." The ceremony was for the mayor of Orlando and three city commissioners, and was open to the public.

"The city's inclusion of prayer in the oath of office ceremony gives the impression that the city supports and endorses religion over nonreligion," writes FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel in a letter to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

"This sends the message to members of the audience who are nonadherents 'that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, full members of the political community,' to quote the U.S. Supreme Court."