Orlando Officials’ Oath of Office Was a Christian Prayer in Disguise

When Buddy Dyer, the mayor of Orlando, Florida, took his oath of office earlier this year alongside three members of the city council, Jesus was a major part of the government ceremony.

Buddy Dyer (via Ballotpedia)

Buddy Dyer (via Ballotpedia)

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.

This wasn’t wording chosen by the officials. This was the default oath provided by the city. It went far beyond the generically religious “So help me God” line.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Dyer asking him to put a stop to this in the future:

The City of Orlando must ensure that its events remain neutral toward religion. We request assurances that future city events will not include prayer, scheduled or otherwise, and will not otherwise endorse religion. Please inform us in writing of the steps you are taking to ensure this serious constitutional violation does not recur.

What’s amazing is that none of the officials saw this as a problem. Even if they are Christian, they could have requested an alternative secular oath, but they didn’t have the courage or civic understanding to do that. And if they screw up like this during the oath, it sets a bad precedent for how they will govern.

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.