I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A "Pagan, Agnostic, Pantheist" Demands that I Allow Him to Bring the Invocation on My Behalf!

......and my answer to him is    No.

his email:

>>> "XXXXXXXXXXXX"  08/08/14 1:36 PM >>>
Mr Bergosh,

Thank you so much for speaking to me today.

Since you said that you would not 'ever, ever' allow a non-Christian to
deliver an invocation, I would like to remind you of the law. Please
refer to Galloway v Greece NY (SCOTUS case, May 2014). In that instance, the Supreme Court said that local government bodies must allow
invocations from ANYONE offering to give one. It does not allow you to
deny me due to religious discrimination, nor to pass me on to another
board member who MIGHT not discriminate based on religion. If you are
unclear about this, I suggest you contact the school board's legal
counsel for clarification.

That said, I am requesting that you place me on the schedule for the
August 2014 meeting invocation (which you indicated is available).
Please contact me in writing with a reply - either an acceptance or a
legally-sound reason why I am rejected.

Best Regards,


My response.............


The short answer to your request is……. No.
Additionally, I do not endorse your rendition of the essence of our conversation below; you have the context and my position all wrong.  I simply stated to you that I would not personally change my already selected choice for this month's invocation just because you want me too.  I'll never, ever change the invocation selection at the last minute, just because you, "XXXXX", or anyone else wants me too. 

Sorry, you waited too late to get on for this month-it has absolutely nothing at all to do with your religious views or the fact that I’m a Roman Catholic Christian-- don’t try to distort the reality of our conversation.

Here's the way the invocation rotation process works XXXXX-allow me to explain it for you in detail: 
Individual board members select the person who will deliver the invocation on a regular rotation that cycles every five months—it is each board members prerogative whom they select to represent them. In the month of August, it is my turn to select the person who will bring the invocation on my behalf, and I already have someone in mind to do this.  As I told you over the phone, you can contact the other board members to see if they would have you bring greetings on their behalf at some future meeting.

If that's not good enough, then you are welcome to fill out a speaker form at the meeting, and utilize your 3 minutes of speaking time at the podium to bring whatever religious invocation to the meeting that you'd like.  

In fact, you can come every month to multiple meetings and do that if you want to. 

And we’ll neither judge nor discriminate against you.

You can bring whatever greeting you'd like, XXXXX.  Wiccan, Mazdaki, BOTA, Cheondo, Asatru, Eckanakar, Jaini, Aladuran, Cao Dai, Falun Gong, Flying Spaghetti Monster, Atheist, Vulcan, Satanic, Klingon (you can even speak in Klingon if you want) whatever you want to do-it’s your three minutes.  I don’t judge people, thanks for the call, and

Have a great weekend!

Jeff Bergosh
Escambia County School Board
District 1 Board Representative

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You conveniently left out the part of Galloway v Greece (SCOTUS 5/14) which said that a government body must accept the invocation of anyone asking to deliver one. You are in violation of the law because you refused based on a religious test. You hadn't invited anyone else yet, but you said you did. What's more, there are almost always students present at board meetings. That may very well put invocations in the realm of school-led prayer - illegal. Galloway also stated that government officials and employees may not lead prayers. The last three invocations were offered by ECSB employees (teachers, coaches, superintendents). Previously, MANY school board members have led the prayers. That's illegal. Finally, according to Marsh, invocations are intended for the governing body, not the audience. So it is illegal to ask the public to stand or bow their heads in prayer. These are ALL simple church/state separation violations, obvious to most citizens who don't claim a Christian privilege. If you were a minority (or respected minority religions as equals), you might understand. I'm sorry you cannot and that you are trying to keep the prayers you introduce exclusively Christian. How about we avoid all these problems and drop government-sponsored prayers at ECSB meetings? Wouldn't a moment of silence be more inclusive anyway? I say this: keep church in church and get on with the business of operating our schools without religious favoritism or patronage.