Lake Worth Mayor Pam Triolo’s decision to walk out of a commission meeting before atheist Preston Smith gave his invocation last Tuesday is causing an unwelcome ripple effect. In response to Triolo’s walk out, atheist and blogger Chaz Stevens has now asked the city permission to give a Satanic invocation at an upcoming City Commission meeting.Stevens, best known for putting up a Festivus pole made of beer cans as a holiday display at the Florida Capitol Rotunda, sent an email to the city requesting the invocation.
Meanwhile, Triolo has responded to criticism over her walk-out on her Facebook page, which has caught the attention of Preston Smith.
Last Tuesday, Triolo and a handful of commissioners walked out of the commission meeting as Smith alked up to the podium to begin his invocation.
“Our collective atheism — which is to say, loving empathy, scientific evidence, and critical thinking — leads us to believe that we can create a better, more equal community without religious divisions. May we pray together,” Smith began his invocation just after the walk-out.
It took full week for Mayor Triolo to address her walk-out. She maintains her reason for leaving wasn’t because Smith is an atheist but, rather, because of a tweet he put out that she found offensive. Smith tweeted out an offensive interpretation of a biblical scripture from Deuteronomy he sent to a Chicago Tea Party activist named C. Steven Tucker after Tucker wrote a blog post calling for Obama’s impeachment.
“I didn’t leave because Mr. Smith is an atheist; I left because of his alleged tweet,” Triolo told WPTV on Monday.
On Tuesday, Triolo took to Facebook to further explain why she walked out and what she found offensive about Smith, which he responded to on his own Facebook, calling her comments slanderous.
“Your recent public Facebook post is outrageously slanderous toward my image and I am urging you to immediately remove it and issue an apology to repair any damage caused,” Smith wrote. “The libelous nature of your maligned blame is nothing short of utterly appalling. We have taken note that this allegation has been posted on an official Mayoral account, using, presumably, city resources and time.”
Triolo did, in fact, take down the post. But a post about the city’s holiday schedule has been inundated by commenters calling her bigoted. Some commenters called her “a piece of shit.”
Meanwhile, inspired by the incident of the walk-out, Stevens sent an email to Lake Worth City Manager Michael Bornstein:
Mr. Bornstein;My name is Chaz Stevens, father of the Pabst Blue Ribbon Festivus Pole.
I’d like permission to give a Satanic, yes Satan, invocation at an upcoming City Commission meeting. Everyone is welcome to sing along, or as is the recent case when Miami atheist activist Preston Smith gave the invocation, like Elvis, they can leave the building.