An Alabama man says he was going to give the opening prayer at the Huntsville City Council meeting this week, but was uninvited after the public raised concerns over his Wiccan beliefs.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation recently accused the city council of lacking diversity in its opening prayers, which it called "unnecessary, inappropriate and divisive.” In the wake of those claims, Blake Kirk, a practicing member and clergy of the Wiccan faith, was invited to give the invocation.
“If you’re looking to be inclusive,” Kirk told WHNT-TV, “bringing a Wiccan in to do the invocation is about as inclusive as it gets these days.”
But council members received calls from the community over his faith, Huntsville City Attorney Peter Joffrion said.
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“It is not right; the city cannot pick and choose what faiths they want to support and allow to speak and give the prayer,” Kirk told WHNT-TV Thursday night.
“I gave the invocation earlier this year,” he added. “At the time, they did not ask me what my faith affiliation was. But when they did this time and I told them ‘Wiccan,’ I was told I was no longer invited to give it.”
Council members would not comment on the decision.
Councilman Will Culver previously told AL.com that he approves of rotating the prayer schedule to represent different faiths.
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"That's the only way to do it, in my opinion," Culver said in February of 2012. "Everybody should have an opportunity."