Small Texas Town Won't Allow Atheists to Give Invocation, Only Believers

| by Michael Allen

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in May that people of religious faith could open city council meetings with prayer.

CNN reported that the high court ruled that specific religious prayers, such as Christianity, could be spoken during invocations at city council meetings in Greece, N.Y.

The City of Rowlett, Tx., saw the ruling as an affirmation of its traditions, which include having licensed clergy members from established religious institutions give a prayer during the invocation at city meetings.

However, the Metroplex Atheists group is calling on the town's city council for an equal opportunity to give the invocation, reports the Associated Press.

“We would still rather see no invocation at all in government meetings, but if they’re going to have them, we want to push for equal time,” Randy Word, president of the Metroplex Atheists, told the Dallas Morning News.

“This would be a serious invocation, though it would be a secular invocation,” added Word. “You can still invoke things that are real in our natural world and solemnize the occasion, their human nature, sense of justice, logic.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation also asked the City of Rowlett to allow atheists an equal opportunity to give the invocation.

“Specifically, we ask that you ensure that nonbelievers are given equal opportunity to deliver invocations at council meetings,” Sam Grover, an attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, wrote to the City of Rowlett.

Rowlett's City Attorney David Berman said this week that the town's ban on atheists will not change, as did Mayor Todd Gottel.

“As long as I’m mayor, we are going to pray,” Mayor Gottel said on Wednesday.

Sources: Associated Press, CNN, Dallas Morning News