After Complaints, Henrico County Drops Invocation Prayer from Meetings

After 25 years of opening their Board of Supervisors’ meetings with a prayer — often a not-so-subtle Christian one — Henrico County (Virginia) officials have decided to stop promoting religion at their meetings before they get sued:

The decision was reached Tuesday evening following a closed session to address a complaint the county received June 13. An e-mailer, who was identified as a user of county services but not a resident, took issue with an invocation delivered the previous evening.

FFRF had also sent a letter to county officials.

Sometimes, that’s all it takes! Victory for everybody who supports church/state separation! *Happy dance*

(Thanks to Nicole for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • gski

    Unfortunately I don’t consider this a true victory. It stops the public display but it doesn’t change hearts nor minds. It may even harden them against our cause. I agree that the action needed to be taken but I hope it doesn’t stop there. It needs to be followed with an attempt to get people to understand and accept that state/church separation is good for everyone. Failing that, the struggle will be endless.

  • ConureDelSol

    There are other atheists in Henrico County?!  I’ve been looking for awhile to find other atheists to talk to in this area!  

    As a side note,  it’s no secret that our county can be overtly religious in all its dealings.  Richmond City is very similar as well.  You should see all the commendations and government help churches get in this area.

    • http://twitter.com/nicoleintrovert Nicole Introvert

      I am in Chesterfield, but nice to meet you!  :)

      The Facebook link that NBC12 put up is a madhouse if you want to jump into the discussion.

    • ursulamajor

      Go to Meet-up.com. There are 4-5  Atheist groups in the area that meet regularly and they overlap Science Pub and Secular/ Liberal groups. I’m in Mechanicsville.

      • http://twitter.com/nicoleintrovert Nicole Introvert

        I haven’t found many meeting or getting together to actually do something in the past year or so.  Any suggestions for specific groups?  As you can see I am rather introverted so it is easier for me to meet people when there is less pressure, like a speaking engagement rather than just dinner with people who already know each other. 

        • Hibernia86

          Well, even if you aren’t a student, you can still come to the VCU group. You already are in the facebook group so come on out to any events you see posted on there once the school year starts again.

    • http://www.facebook.com/thashizknit Autumn Reinhardt Simpson

       ConureDelSol,

      I am actually in Richmond but I’ve also been looking for other atheists. There are groups here but they usually meet waaaay out in the ‘burbs so I tend to fly solo. Hit me up on FB if you’d like to join the brand-spanking new Humanist Book Club I started!

      • ConureDelSol

        Sent you a friend request!

  • Marguerite

    Cool. I used to live in Chesterfield County, which is another Richmond suburb. I wonder if anyone’s gotten all the “In God We Trust” signs out of the Chesterfield county schools yet?

  • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

    I really wish things were that easy everywhere in Virginia…. If you don’t know, there’s a situation brewing in Roanoke, Virginia. Take a look at my friend Cory’s blog for details:  http://cornelioid.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/accessory-prayer/ or the press release that I wrote for our student group: http://www.freeatvt.org/?p=115

  • Hibernia86

    I grew up two counties from here so I know it well. I’m glad that they are finally following the constitution. Now if only they could get my home county to do the same. It actually STARTED prayers at Board of Supervisor’s meetings with the argument that other counties were doing it so why shouldn’t they.

  • Aaronlane

    In the same area, police shot and killed the family dog as they were notifying a family that their son had been murdered. http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/news/2012/jul/12/tdmet03-henrico-police-shoot-pet-as-they-notify-fa-ar-2050797/

    I guess the prayers didn’t work. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/thashizknit Autumn Reinhardt Simpson

    Thank you for reporting on this! I had no idea my little letter would cause such a stir! To be fair, the county was extremely fair-minded about this and admitted that this needed to stop.


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