Florida County Commissioners Discover That Religious Freedom Means Freedom for Everyone, Even Pagans

by Dan Quinn

Religious-right activists celebrated when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year, in a 5-4 decision, that beginning governmental meetings with sectarian prayers doesn’t violate the Constitution’s Establishment Clause.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins declared: “The court has rejected the idea that as citizens we must check our faith at the entrance to the public square.”

Of course, citizens don’t have to “check their faith at the entrance to the public square.” Citizens have the right to practice their faith and to pray, or not, wherever they like. The issue is whether government may favor a particular religion (or religion generally) and whether offering sectarian prayers does that. The Supreme Court has now said such prayers are permissible.

Well, as you can see in the video clip above, last week an Agnostic Pagan Pantheist — David Suhor — decided to bring his particular beliefs into the regular meeting of the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners in Florida. But that didn’t go over too well with some of the Christians at the meeting. One commissioner walked out, offering this explanation:

“People may not realize it, but when we invite someone a minister to pray they are praying for the county commissioners for us to make wise decisions and I’m just not going to have a pagan or satanic minister pray for me.”

He certainly had a right to leave. So did state Sen. Dan Patrick, the current Republican nominee for Texas Lieutenant Governor, when he boycotted the invocation of a Muslim cleric at the beginning of the Texas Senate’s work day in 2007. But government — certainly in the United States — shouldn’t be in the business of picking and choosing whose religious beliefs to favor or disfavor.

Back in Florida, the Escambia County School Board has so far refused to allow Suhor to offer his prayer, in addition to the board’s traditional Christian invocation, at its meetings. Suhor, who said governing bodies should offer simply a moment of silence instead of prayers at their meetings, is considering litigation against the school board.

(H/T Addicting Info)