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.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Satanic Temple wants to Do Our Pre-Meeting Prayer

Here is the email, below,  that I received yesterday.  (It is not my turn in the rotation to bring the guest speaker for the pre-meeting prayer, it will not be my turn for three months. It will be up to Patty Hightower (July) or Bill Slayton (August) to consider this request.  I already have the invocation planned for my slot in September, and my choice in September will be to have a  Christian prayer.)

This is not our first demand from this individual to bring a prayer......If he is invited to bring a "satanic" invocation, (as apparently he will be doing at an upcoming Pensacola City Council Meeting) I will not stay in the room for it, I will walk out until he is through.  I won't, personally,  indulge this in what will be among my last meetings as a sitting School Board Member in Escambia County Florida..... via 

rs ago)
to GeraldLindamekim.sanbornDonnaricknewsnews
Esteemed School Board Members, 
For those of you still choosing invocation prayer-givers at your meetings, I once again request the opportunity to participate on behalf of The Satanic Temple of West Florida.  For over two years now, I have bee asking.

As you know, there can be no discrimination or censorship in the choosing of these invocations - especially considering you have no written policy regarding this practice.  You each choose who prays, but that does not mean you may exercise censorship.  If you give a forum to one religion at school board meetings, you must give that same opportunity to anyone who asks.  This is not only the conclusion of the Supreme Court (under the Galloway decision, which you cite as justification for school-board led prayer), it is the definition of religious freedom.  

As school board members, you are sworn to uphold that Constitution and I expect you do so or to stop praying.  The establishment clause of the Constitution compels you not to establish any religion as preferable to others.  However, to my knowledge, you have NEVER allowed a prayer from anyone except a Christian or Jew.  In fact, you have no legislative protection for prayer anyway.  So you are doubly derelict.

I would also remind you that your own student handbook policy regarding prayer says that no agent of the school system may lead or otherwise encourage prayer where students are present.  That would apply to your meetings as well.  A moment of silence, however, is allowed - even prescribed in that handbook.

Finally - as avowed Christians - I would remind you of Matthew 6:5-6, in which Jesus prohibits public displays of prayer as the domain of hypocrites.  Remember also Luke 6:31 - do unto others as you would have done to you.

Please respond to my request in writing.  At the very least, I would expect a yes or no and your reasoning for answering so.  

Best Regards,

Davidas, founding member of The Satanic Temple West Florida


Anonymous said...

You know what, I looked up the Satanic Temple because I wondered if they actually worship Satan or something, and all these people really seem like are folks who don't necessarily believe in God, but and so make a ploy of the idea of Satan. I guess if you're a Christian then anything contrary to that of Christ, one is led to believe they are of the devil, but that's a pretty simplistic view of the world and of people. Alas, most people are simple-minded folks (I dont think you are, even though you are conservative), and have trouble broadening their mind to be a little more understanding. But using this is a great political move. ;-)

David Suhor said...

Jeff, et al

I understand you think I (and TSTWF) are quacks and not worthy of praying at ECSB meetings. Whatever... ALL OR NONE.
I also understand that you misinterpret Galloway to include school boards, though there is no mention or precedent to support that.

But why have you and the other two prayer-pushing board members rejected offers from the Humanists of West Florida and others? Not that your non-existent policy requires it (or that you may ever rejected individuals), but HoWF is a legal religious organization with a 501c3 designation and a public presence in Pensacola. They (and I and other religious minorities who asked) qualify by every measure you have adopted.

Did you know? ECSB has NEVER had a prayer that was not Judeo-Christian in tone. It's not like you haven't been warned. If that is not religious discrimination and censorship, please explain.

I dare you to post this on your page and Facebook or ECW page. You won't, of course... since it doesn't support your illegal position. Just like you ignore Matthew 6:5-6, Luke 6:31 and the ECSD student handbook policy, which says "No person and no employee or agent of the District shall coerce, advocate, or encourage in any way whatsoever prayer or any other religious activity by students". Students are always present at ECSB meetings.

I'll eagerly await your response.


Jeff Bergosh said...

David, No.

Anonymous said...

I am going to be honest. As someone who isn't "religious," I think people just need to take a chill pill when it comes to this stuff. And I say that by observing how both sides act. How about we just be nice human beings and treating each other with dignity? That would be a good first step instead of getting lost in dogma and caring way too much about an invocation. So, really Satanists, take a chill pill, do some yoga, and let it be. For real. As long as it isnt dangerous or creating harmful behaviors, everyone just freaking CHILL.

Just keeping it real, because life is too short for anything else.

Anonymous said...

And Bergosh, chill. These arent necessarily devilworshippers wanting to emotionally or physically harm others. They're just chanting nonsense, like are? Who knows. Dang. Here is my letter to humanity: everybody...CHILL. Amen.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Anonymous: my last school board meeting will be in October, the last meeting where I will have the opportunity to have a guest bring the pre-meeting prayer will be the September regular meeting. I have invited a Baptist Preacher to bring the prayer. I strongly believe that the individual board members should maintain the custom of inviting someone on their behalf to bring the pre-meeting prayer--which is for the benefit of the assembled board and meant as an encouragement to these policy makers. I do not support going to a moment of silence, but in a few months what I think will not matter. I simply do not want to acquiesce to the small vocal minority that in the case of one individual in particular, believes in nothing and simply wants to make a splash in the media. I do not feel we must indulge this, I do not feel we MUST invite this person to bring a satanic prayer to the school board meeting, and so therefore, speaking only for me, I will not indulge this individual and I'd caution my counterparts not to as well. We're diverse and we are respectful and we are in compliance with law and SCOTUS rulings, despite what some people say.....