During Invocation in Winter Garden (Florida), Atheist Reminds Commissioners: “Let Us Play”

Winter Garden (Florida) has been the site of a few church/state separation problems over the past year. It began when an atheist, Joseph Richardson, was kicked out of a public meeting for not standing during the invocation or Pledge of Allegiance (even though no one should ever be forced to participate in either). That led to a back and forth over whether religion should be at public meetings at all. This past March, after temporarily doing away with prayers at meetings, they voted to bring back the invocations.

And how has that gone? In the past seven months, there have been 14 meetings… and with one exception, when there was just a moment of silence, every invocation has been delivered by a Christian pastor. No diversity whatsoever and a very clear violation of the law. The Central Florida Freethought Community and Freedom From Religion Foundation sent letters to the Winter Garden Commissioners early last week, warning them about the First Amendment violations they were committing when, in what seemed to be a total coincidence, they decided to do the right thing.

Atheist Ed Lynch was invited to deliver an invocation on Thursday — and he made sure to make the most of it. He thanked Richardson for putting this whole process in motion and told the Commissioners, “Let us play.”



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Friendly Atheist Podcast Episode 78: David Williamson, Secular Invocation Activist

Our latest podcast guest is David Williamson, founder and President of the Central Florida Freethought Community.

His group has been leading the way when it comes to getting atheists to give invocations at local government meetings.

I spoke with David about why secular invocations are so valuable, step by step instructions on what local activists can do to get on these invocation lists, and what atheists should say if they get the opportunity to speak in front of government officials.

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Church Gives County Officials $2,000 to Thank Them for Promoting Christian Prayers at Meetings

If you needed evidence that government praying is all about promoting Christianity, just look at what’s happening in Pittsylvania County in Virginia.

A full recap is here but a quick summary will work: In 2012, the county’s Board of Supervisors began each meeting with a prayer to Jesus Christ. And it wasn’t citizens saying the prayers, but the Supervisors themselves, which clearly violated the law.



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What is Wrong with the GOP That Dr. Ben Carson is His Party’s Current Frontrunner?

What’s shocking about Chuck Todd‘s interview this morning with GOP Presidential frontrunner Dr. Ben Carson is not that Carson compared abortion to slavery, or wants to prevent women from having access to abortions, or said all sane people should have access to any weapon they can get their hands on, or defended his comment about how the Holocaust could have been prevented if Jews had guns.

It’s that he’s said all of this before and yet there are still people in this country who think he’s qualified to be the President.



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Majority of Icelanders Support Church/State Separation

In Iceland, support for church/state separation is at an all-time high of 55% according to a new Gallup poll. At the same time, only 24% are against it (the rest had no opinion):

Perhaps the best part about the results is that the greatest support for separation of church and state (79%) comes from supporters of the Pirate Party — the same group that got the nation’s blasphemy laws repealed a few months ago.

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