(Washington, D.C., May 10, 2019)—The American Humanist Association’s (AHA) Appignani Humanist Legal Center joined American Atheists and the Center for Inquiry in a demand letter delivered to Florida city officials last night threatening litigation over a pending prayer resolution. The demand states that the Winter Garden City Council’s resolution, if passed, would violate several mandates in the United States Constitution.
“We are hopeful that city officials will heed our warning that passing its pending resolution will invite future litigation,” said AHA Senior Counsel, Monica Miller. “The Supreme Court has made clear that local governments cannot adopt prayer policies that discriminate against non-believers,” Miller added.
The joint letter specifies that the city is unconstitutionally discriminating against atheist and humanist citizens by refusing to allow non-theists to deliver secular invocations during the legislative prayer portion of the meeting. Chapter members of AHA affiliate Central Florida Freethought Community reported that the City Council had added consideration of this problematic resolution to the agenda for its May 9 meeting after years of hostility towards and exclusion of community members who wished to deliver secular invocations including ejection. The resolution if passed, would mean that the city’s policy on invocations would revert back to commissioner-led prayers which violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The demand letter specifies that the resolution is designed to exclude religious minorities from delivering invocations.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., 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 worldview 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 and the Herb Block Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
Shake Things Up by Sitting Out the Pledge of Allegiance