Yesterday, September 25, 2015, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter of notice to the City of Boca Raton regarding their handling of invocations at the beginning of city council meetings. The letter says, in part, “It is our understanding that Boca Raton City Council sessions include an invocation that is led by council members. This practice is unconstitutional under the recent Supreme Court case Greece v. Galloway and must be changed.”
The issue came up as a result of successful political anti-corruption advocate, Chaz Stevens, Editor in Chief of My Acts of Sedition. Stevens has been working to end prayers held before city council meetings in Broward and Palm Beach Counties through his “Satan or Silence” project. The project involves Stevens requesting to be included in the normal rotation of community members saying invocations before local public meetings since the Supreme Court has ruled government cannot discriminate when selecting who to give the invocation.
In leading up to the FFRF letter to the City, Stevens had sent a request to be included in their invocation rotation with this email:
“Kindly add me to the invocation rotation, where at the very next available opening, I’d like to give a Satanic Invocation before the most august Boca Raton City Commission.
My invocation will lend gravity to the occasion and reflect values long part of the Nation’s heritage. The invocation will be solemn and respectful in tone, and invite lawmakers to reflect upon shared ideas and common ends.
You might have heard rumors about twerking … I have personal assurances from Satan himself that our invocation will be very memorable, filled to the brim with gravitas and inspiration, and though it pains us (as twerking is a key component of our religious observance — along with plenty of cold beer and hot delicious nachos), our unheavenly Twerking Deacons of Sin will have the night off, roaming the earth to cause mischief elsewhere.
All Hail Satan!
PS Black attire not required, but suggested.”
The City of Boca Raton responded with “We received your e-mail of September 19, 2015 requesting to be added to the “invocation rotation” for upcoming Boca Raton City Council meetings. Please note that there is no invocation rotation for City Council meetings; the meetings do not include an invocation from clergy or the public.” Once Stevens received this response he contacted FFRF.
The FFRF’s letter concludes,
“In order to demonstrate the City Council’s respect for the diverse range of religious and nonreligious citizens living in Boca Raton, we urge you to concentrate on civil matters and leave religion to the private conscience of each individual by ending the practice of hosting prayers at your meetings. Please inform us in writing of the steps you are taking to resolve this matter.”