After Christian Mayor Refuses to Support ‘Humanist Recognition Week,’ Religious Groups Are Discussing a Response

Last week, I posted about a meeting of the Vero Beach City Council (in Florida). The five-member council had an easy task in front of them: Approving a resolution marking “Humanist Recognition Week.” But two of the councilmembers refused to do it because of their religious views:

Vero Beach City Councilmembers

Mayor Craig Fletcher didn’t support the resolution because it was promoting a belief system he didn’t agree with: “I refuse to support an organization that does not believe in Jesus Christ…” Vice Mayor Tracy Carroll also said no because when she looked up the word “Humanist” on the Internet, she saw it was related to atheism (!!!) and she couldn’t be associated with that.

The resolution passed thanks to the other three members of the council, but these sorts of resolutions tend to be unanimous. It’s a big deal that it wasn’t.

At the time, the only people who seemed upset about what the Mayor and Vice Mayor said were the council members who voted for the resolution and members of the Humanists of the Treasure Coast, who suggested the resolution in the first place.

This Tuesday, though, several leaders of non-Christian groups in the area are getting together to discuss how to handle this Jesus-or-bust mentality of some on the city council. The article is behind a paywall, but it explores what other theistic groups are saying the wake of the vote:

“We are concerned for the statement that was made and the setting it was made in. The mayor said he could only support groups that believe in Jesus, and that certainly leaves out the Jewish community and several other groups,” said Rabbi Michael Birnholz of Vero Beach’s Temple Beth Shalom.

“We want to sit down as a community and talk about what meaningful response we can make toward what has happened,” Birnholz said. The meeting is not open to the public.

How great is it to see theistic groups talk about the need for a government that abides by the First Amendment? It’s not just Jewish groups meeting — it’ll be an interfaith gathering that includes the Humanist group.

The same resolution is going to be presented to the Indian River County Commission (as opposed to the city council) on Tuesday night. Hopefully, it’ll get passed unanimously this time.

(Thanks to Eric 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.