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Broadening Brevard's Blessings

A federal court on Sept. 30 struck down a Florida county’s divisive practice of refusing to allow non-theistic invocations at the start of the county commission’s meetings. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit brought by Americans United and allies.

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ruled that the policy of Brevard County’s Board of Commissioners to allow only monotheistic, overwhelmingly Christian invocations violated both the U.S. and Florida Constitutions – due to the government’s favoring of certain faiths.

Federal Court Says Fla. County Board Cannot Discriminate Against Non-Theists

Brevard County’s Exclusionary Prayer Practice Found Unconstitutional

A federal court last night struck down the Brevard County, Fla., Board of County Commissioners’ policy of excluding non-theists from giving opening invocations, a ruling that is being hailed by the groups that sponsored the litigation.

In its ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida said a local governing body cannot limit its invocation speakers to those from monotheistic religions.  

The Wall Banger

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin G. Scalia left no doubt about where he stood on the constitutional principle of church-state separation.

“To tell you the truth, there is no place for that in our constitutional tradition,” Scalia said a little over one month before he passed away Feb. 13 at the age of 79. “Where did that come from? To be sure, you can’t favor one denomination over another but can’t favor religion over non-religion?”

N.C. County Roiled By Flap Over Official Prayer Policy

The Cleveland County, N.C., Board of Education voted recently to end its practice of opening meetings with a moment of silence in favor of allowing official invocations.

Last year, the board voted 8-2 to continue its previous policy of beginning meetings with a moment of silence. But some local agitators were upset by that decision and called for more vocal forms of religion to be injected into the meetings.

Around The World: Canadian Supreme Court Nixes Legislative Prayer

Canada’s highest court has ruled that town councils may not open meetings with sectarian prayer.

The ruling ends an eight-year legal battle over the prayer practice of the town of Saguenay in Quebec. The town opens its council meetings with Catholic prayer and openly displays a crucifix in its meeting hall. (The justices did not rule on the subject of the crucifix and limited themselves instead to the matter of prayer.)

The justices ruled that Canadian society has developed a “concept of neutrality according to which the state must not interfere in religion and beliefs.”

Sectarian Prayer Policy Resumes In N.C. County After High Court Ruling

A North Carolina county has resumed its policy of inviting clergy from mostly Christian denominations to deliver sectarian prayers before its board meetings.

In yet another instance of fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Greece v. Galloway, U.S. District Court Judge James A. Beaty Jr. recently lifted an injunction that had barred Forsyth County from opening its meetings with Christian prayers.

AU Chapter Leader Offers Secular Invocation Before El Paso Council

An Americans United chapter leader recently gave the first-ever secular invocation before a meeting of the El Paso, Texas, City Council.

David Marcus, president of AU’s El Paso Chapter, offered a message of inclusion before the board’s Dec. 2 meeting.

“We come together today in a spirit of cooperation and compromise,” he said, noting that the border city of more than 670,000 people is made up of residents with different beliefs and that each individual’s feelings are deeply important.

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