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.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Invocations at Escambia County School Board Meetings: Group DEMANDS That We Stop!

....But our attorney says our practice, the way it is structured, is not in violation of the Constitution. I believe our attorney over the group in this letter (see below). And after our discussion last Thursday--where board members agreed unanimously to keep the protocol just as it has been done--I don't see us changing our policy. These guys can send all the letters they want, but we won't be arm-twisted by these special interest groups. The Satanic prayer people are not going to force us to change as long as I have a say in this!


Anonymous said...

If you trust the SB attorney's viewpoint so much, why not publish it for your constituents to see? You published the counter-argument. Fact is, the FFRF knows volumes more about prayer in public schools than your misguided attorney, who is trying to defend her bosses' religious discrimination. FFRF fights for separation of church and state every day. They've argued before the Supreme Court. Ms Waters is nowhere near that kind of a Constitutional scholar. She is clearly out of her league on this one. In fact, she gave you bad advice that will ultimately lead to a losing lawsuit... if you choose that path. Still, soldier on in the name of the one and only God - that of Abraham, Jesus and Muhammed! Let our students know that HE is the ultimate arbiter of the school system, not the Constitution, the voters or the taxpayers who will pick up the bill to defend HIM.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Anonymous- I cannot publish the attorney's work product because it is confidential and could jeopardize our chances of success if this goes to court. I will give you this-The Indian River School Board decision you all hang your hat on is not a district in Florida, not a district that levys taxes-that is different than our district. And yes, we do legislate, we set policy for the district and levy taxes.

Lorraine said...

I just watched the school board workshop (and it had nice array of topics to think about!). Mrs. Waters argued that it is likely that "invocation" and "prayer" may be viewed as two different things according to their common understanding. Mrs. Waters appealed to the dictionary usage of the term, but arguably "common understanding" could be gathered from the way it is practiced in a particular setting. The way it is practiced at school board meetings is as a prayer.

In addition, Ms. Waters is right that a prayer could fall under the category of invocation. Furthermore, she defined invocation as an appeal to authority, and God could be considered an authority. Given this, it seems like the invocation could be nothing other than prayer in certain settings, depending on how it is used, especially given its common practice at board meetings.

I say these things to give a contribution. As a constituent, I don't want litigation on something like this.

I think the best way to go is to ensure that a variety of religious beliefs are represented, or to have a moment of silence. I think, when someone gives an invocation of a different faith, you may understand some of the awkwardness it causes for you and others, though.

As I keep saying, I don't care personally, but I wanted to contribute my thoughts because this is not worth litigation.

Anonymous said...

How does the school board choose the speakers for the meeting? Does Mr. Thomas play a role? Please explain.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Anonymous-Superintendent does not select the speakers, the school board members, on a monthly rotation, individually select their guests who bring the invocation.