In Lady Lake, Florida, there’s another city council reciting another “pre-meeting” prayer. One atheist, Bill Calhoun, is rightfully complaining about it, but he may be alone in the fight:
Commissioner Paul Hannan questioned why Calhoun would even bring the issue up.
“It confuses me and others why you would want to burden Lady Lake taxpayers with this,” Hannan said.
“Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you have the right,” said Pamela Dahl of Lady Lake, president of the Tri-County Tea Party, an organization for Lake, Sumter and Marion counties.
… town attorney Derek Schroth defended the prayers, saying Lady Lake does not promote a particular religious belief, and a member from any group is allowed to offer an invocation. In fact, Sheldon Skurow, spiritual leader of Temple Shalom, a Sumter County-based synagogue, led the invocation at a March commission meeting.
“These kinds of prayers are permitted as long as you don’t exclude other faiths, which our town does not do,” said Schroth.
So they can name one token non-Christian group. Who’s to say all the other people delivering the invocation aren’t Christian?
In fact, the American Humanist Association noted the following:
… from May 2010 to January 2011, the town commission always got a member of the Christian clergy to conduct the prayer and that the minister always invoked the words “Jesus” or “Christ.”
Lady Lake is using the same tactics other cities have taken, saying the prayers before the start of the “official” meeting, thinking they can get away with something unconstitutional.
Schroth says the city isn’t promoting a particular religious belief — but just take a look at what was written in the same article:
Perhaps the biggest roar from the crowd came at the start of the meeting when H.G. Bevill, pastor of Lake Hermosa Church of God in Lady Lake, ended the invocation with “in the name of Lord Jesus Christ” loudly.
And that’s supposed to be a secular invocation that’s inclusive to all?
In a letter to the town, William Burgess, the [American Humanist Association's] legal coordinator, said the association was concerned that many Lady Lake Town Commission meetings open with prayers led by members of Christian-based places of worship, and that may be isolating attendees who have different beliefs.
Calhoun is looking at his options and weighing a lawsuit. I hope he goes through with it. The more lawsuits that are filed, the sooner these city councils will realize they’re supposed to be running a government and not a church.
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