In a victory for secular Americans, the City of Coral Springs has decided it will end the practice of opening public meetings with a prayer.
City officials decided that giving up the practice of opening public meetings with a prayer was preferable over allowing Satanists a chance to participate in the practice.
City of Coral Springs officials announced earlier this week that as of Oct. 1 they will end the longstanding tradition of opening City Commission meetings with prayers. The change in policy comes after City Commissioners became uncomfortable with the idea of non-Christians delivering the prayer, and in particular, the prospect of Satanists delivering the traditional opening prayer.
After receiving pressure from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), and noting that the recent Supreme Court decision Greece v. Galloway requires cities to allow prayer from all faiths or no faith, Mayor Skip Campbell said:
I don’t think our citizens would be in favor of Satanic invocations before City Commission meetings. The cost of fighting that could be astronomical. I don’t see [how] we as a city should be paying lawyer fees for fights on principle. I can find a lot of better things to do with a couple hundred thousand dollars than to give toa (sic) lawyer.
The change in policy comes after Chaz Stevens, a Satanist and self-described atheist who advocates for the separation of church and state, petitioned city commissioners for a chance to deliver the invocation. Last August the city rejected his request via email from the city clerk:
It has been the city’s longstanding adopted practice to offer a brief, solemn and respectful prayer at the opening of the City Commission meetings, prior to engaging in official City business. Contrary to the city’s policy, your numerous emails indicate that you have no intention of delivering an invocation based upon your religious beliefs, no matter what they may be, but instead intend to make a mockery of the proceedings, by, as you indicated, ‘twerking’ and/or bringing a mariachi band to perform.
However, after pressure from the FFRF on behalf of Stevens, the city decided to give up on the religious invocations altogether, in favor of a moment of silence.
Bottom line: While there is no doubt that ‘twerking’ and/or bringing a mariachi band to perform would have been fun, ultimately it is far better to simply replace sectarian prayers at public meetings with a dignified moment of silence.
(H/T Friendly Atheist)