Florida School Board Member Tells Pagan He Can’t Deliver an Invocation Because It Might Offend the Audience

Last month, David Suhor (who calls himself an Agnostic Pagan Pantheist) spoke to the Escambia County School Board in Florida, saying that they were not very welcoming of non-religious viewpoints when it came to their opening invocations. He acknowledged that one board member invited him to deliver one (though he had a conflict on that date), but that was a rarity:

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This Week, an Appeals Court Heard Arguments to Reinstate Tax-Free Housing for Pastors

For years now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been in a legal battle to end the “Parsonage Exemption” that allows ministers to deduct the cost of rent for their church-owned houses from their taxable income. FFRF believes that this shows preferential treatment by the government for religious leaders.

FFRF’s own board has even paid its co-presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor $15,000 each as part of their housing allowance, but because they don’t qualify as “ministers of the gospel,” the law doesn’t apply to them. That’s one of the ways they’ve tried to prove the law is illegal.

Last November, U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb ruled in favor of the FFRF, writing that the exemption was indeed unconstitutional.

You can read much more about Crabb’s decision here.

That case was (to no one’s surprise) appealed by the U.S. Justice Department, and oral arguments took place this week in Chicago. Tom Cara, the President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Metropolitan Chicago Chapter, was in the courtroom and offers his take on the situation below:

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Having Been Denied the Chance to Deliver Invocations, Atheists Will Soon Protest a Rowlett (TX) City Council Meeting

In 2010, the Rowlett City Council in Texas changed their prayer policy. They used to have Christian prayers, then the Freedom From Religion Foundation warned them of the repercussions of doing that, so the council opted to go with non-sectarian prayers.

But since the town is predominantly Christian, those “non-sectarian” prayers turned out to be almost all Christian prayers, anyway.

Local atheists called them out on it last year:

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Days After Eliminating Invocations, Winter Garden City Commissioners (FL) Ask Their Lawyer for a Do-Over

You may recall that Mayor John Rees, the leader of the Winter Garden City Commissioners (in Florida), kicked atheist Joseph Richardson out of a meeting a couple of weeks ago after he refused to stand for the invocation and Pledge of Allegiance:

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Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims Talks About Being Openly Non-religious

If you’ve heard of Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims (below), it’s likely because he’s the first openly gay legislator in the state. But he’s also one of the few non-religious politicians in the country and Chris Stedman spoke to him about his beliefs:

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