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Atheists ready to deliver invocations after Supreme Court ruling

Posted Jul 17, 2014 6:15 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May upholding “chaplain of the month” prayers has emboldened atheists who are offering to deliver invocations before government meetings.

The majority opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy noted that the town of Greece’s challenged policy would allow atheists to deliver prayers, though all of the participating clergy from 1999 to 2007 were Christians.

Atheist Dan Courtney stepped up to the plate, citing freedoms promoted by the Founding Fathers in an invocation before a Greece town meeting on Tuesday, report the Associated Press and the Democrat & Chronicle.

In Florida, meanwhile, the Central Florida Freethought Community has sent 20 letters to local municipalities offering to provide “secular reflections” at government meetings, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. David Williamson delivered a one-minute speech about community and service on behalf of the group at a recent meeting in Osceola County, Florida.

One county commissioner told the newspaper that Williamson’s address was so similar to prayers that he didn’t realize Williamson was an atheist until he read about it in the newspapers. Many attendees bowed their head while Williamson talked.

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