Earlier today, I emailed all 38 Palm Beach county cities, asking to be “placed in rotation to give a Satanic invocation at an upcoming Commission meeting.
Donn Lynn, Clerk for the Village of Golf informs me “only the Pledge of Allegiance said be said when Council Meetings are called to order.”
More interestingly, Bradley Biggs, Attorney for the Village of Golf and the Town of South Palm Beach, writes,”Dear Mr. Stevens, I am acknowledging your email today and also addressing its request on behalf of the Town since this matter has been forwarded to me. I wish to inform you that it would be impossible to place you into a rotation for invocation at a Town Council meeting since the Town does not offer any invocation prior to its legislative meetings. In short, there is no rotation for you to join so it is not possible to add your name to a list that does not exist.
We have always maintained First Amendment governmental neutrality between religion and nonreligion by specifically choosing not to begin the Town’s legislative meetings with any form of prayer. In that manner, the Town has not demonstrated a preference for any one particular sect or creed and thus, has not crossed any constitutional line with respect to the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
In accordance with the recent holding of the United States Supreme Court in Town of Greece v. Galloway decided on May 5, 2014, based in large part on the holding of Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983), the Town has remained neutral on the subject of prayer at legislative sessions. The holding of the Court in Greece stated that “[S]o long as the town maintains a policy of nondiscrimination, the Constitution does not require it to search beyond its borders for non-Christian prayer givers in an effort to achieve religious balancing.” Greece at Pg 21.
The Town would trust that your inquiry regarding this request of the Town of South Palm Beach will not be pursued further or challenged in anyway because, as the Supreme Court also held, “ [A]bsent a pattern of prayers that over time denigrate, proselytize or betray an impermissible government purpose, a challenge based solely on the content of particular prayer will not likely establish a constitutional violation.” Id. at Pg3. “
In reply, we wrote, “Mr. Biggs; Thank you for your very well reasoned and learned reply. As you would guess, since there’s no invocation, there’s no need for Satan’s attendance.”
So then, two down, 36 to go!