(Escambia County, FL, March 13, 2017)— The Escambia County Commission’s withdrawal of an invitation to a certified Humanist Celebrant to perform the ceremonial invocation at the start of its meeting was discriminatory and unconstitutional, says the American Humanist Association (AHA). The AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to the county commissioners today, objecting to the commission’s last-minute decision to revoke the invitation it had extended to an area Humanist Celebrant, Andre Ryland, without explanation.
The AHA’s letter states that the revocation can only be seen as religious discrimination and an unlawful attempt to regulate the content of invocations based on the preferred religious beliefs of commissioners.
“Mr. Ryland was looking forward to solemnizing the meetings, as representatives from other belief systems have many times before,” said Monica Miller, Senior Counsel at the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “The Commission’s decision to revoke Mr. Ryland’s invitation is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause, as well as the Equal Protection Clause, and can only be interpreted as religious discrimination.”
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
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