Christian Privilege in Florida


Here is a textbook example of Christian privilege masquerading as “religious liberty.” A pagan named David Suhor has applied to give the invocation before the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners in Florida, but that board gives the power to decide who gives the invocation to the commissioners themselves (it rotates among them, with each of them inviting someone to do it when it’s their turn). Here’s how commissioner Jeff Bergosh responded to his request to give the invocation:

I’m not one who discriminates, and I won’t here either. However, I think we need to think long and hard about making any radical changes to our current practice. While I do not think anyone I select would intentionally make a mockery of this solemn point in a meeting, who knows what someone with a massive “axe to grind” on this issue might do to make a splash in the media “spiking the football” in the face of the majority of meeting attendees who are overwhelmingly Christian?

I mean, should the majority of persons in attendance at one of our meetings really have to listen to a satanic verse? What if a “Witch Doctor” comes to the podium with a full-on costume, chicken-feet, a voodoo doll and other associated over-the-top regalia? It could easily get out of hand, so far as I can tell….(I wonder what our local media would say about this?)

And I won’t stay and listen if someone tries to be disrespectful like that. I’ll leave the room and come back after, or wear BOSE noise cancelling headphones. Or I’ll turn around and raise my fist in the air like the ’68 Olympians did(uh, I’m being sarcastic-I wouldn’t really do that…)…… I won’t be part of someone’s prank.

You know, there actually are “witch doctors” like this. There are adherents to Santeria, for example. But if they were to provide such a prayer in their own religious tradition, Bergosh would consider that a “prank” and walk out. But from the perspective of the government, the Santerian and the Christian are exactly the same. The prayers and religious exercises of the two people are equally protected and their access to public proceedings is as well, even under the new Supreme Court ruling in Greece v Galloway.

Locally, I’ve been bombarded by people offering their willingness to give invocations lately…. However, as a current practice each board member has the latitude to select whomever he/she wants to deliver the invocation before the meeting. In my eight years on the board, I’ve utilized a priest, two pastors, a youth pastor, the leader of my bible study group, several members of the district staff, a school community volunteer, and I’ve delivered the invocation on a number of occasions myself. I like having the flexibility of the board’s rotation system, and I’m not in favor of changing it…

I’d even be willing to select someone other than a Christian to deliver the invocation. I’ve recently been contacted by someone of the Jewish faith, and I’m considering having that individual bring the invocation when it is next my turn, in January 2015.

Well that’s mighty magnanimous of you. Let me tell you what is likely to happen here. The board’s policy is likely to be challenged and even under the Greece ruling, it is likely to be found unconstitutional. Allowing the commissioners to choose who gets to give the invocation when all the commissioners are of one faith and refuse to allow anyone of another faith to give one is the same thing as shutting out all other religions, which even that ruling forbids.

This is a good example of how their claims of “religious freedom” are really about Christian privilege. They want exclusive access to the public square for a de facto government endorsement of their religion. Frankly, they’re quite obsessed with maintaining that privilege.

Comments

  1. D. C. Sessions says

    Frankly, they’re quite obsessed with maintaining that privilege.

    More and more, without it they’re nothing.

  2. peterh says

    “… who knows what someone with a massive “axe to grind” on this issue might do…”

    In the matter of axe-grinding, Suhor might try a mirror.

  3. says

    In my eight years on the board, I’ve utilized a priest, two pastors, a youth pastor, the leader of my bible study group, several members of the district staff, a school community volunteer, and I’ve delivered the invocation on a number of occasions myself. I like having the flexibility of the board’s rotation system, and I’m not in favor of changing it…I’d even be willing to select someone other than a Christian to deliver the invocation.

    (emphasis mine)

  4. John Pieret says

    But how is everyone going to know they are right that Jesus is God unless the government tells ‘em so?

  5. tsig says

    Hey, it’s not like the Christians are proposing something stupid like zombies and the dead walking the Earth…..oh wait.

  6. Alverant says

    I’m not one who discriminates, and I won’t here either.

    No, that’s exactly what he was doing.

  7. Erk12 says

    I’ve utilized a priest, two pastors, a youth pastor, the leader of my bible study group, several members of the district staff, a school community volunteer, and I’ve delivered the invocation on a number of occasions myself.

    Sounds like they’ve got both types of music; country and western.

  8. brucegee1962 says

    Well sheesh, if those pagans want to give a prayer, they’ll just have to scrape enough votes together to elect their own commissioner. If they can’t be bothered to do that, I’m pretty sure the language in the Constitution says something along the lines of “suck it, minorities.” Amiright or amiright?

  9. beezlebubby says

    And now the town board in Greece has passed a new bylaw restricting who can deliver the opening invocation, specifically drawn up to exclude atheists. Yeah, they’re ALL about “inclusion”. They’re a fucking embarrassment to those of us who live in the region. You’d think they’d get tired of all of the negative publicity from the misdeeds of their police department a few years back. http://www.religionnews.com/2014/08/22/greece-n-y-policy-may-prohibit-atheists-public-invocations/

  10. says

    beezlebubby “And now the town board in Greece has passed a new bylaw restricting who can deliver the opening invocation, specifically drawn up to exclude atheists.”
    I don’t see why they bothered. What’s an Athiest going to stand up and talk about, their belief in nothing?

  11. himurastewie says

    beezlebubby “And now the town board in Greece has passed a new bylaw restricting who can deliver the opening invocation, specifically drawn up to exclude atheists.”
    Modusoperandi “I don’t see why they bothered. What’s an Athiest going to stand up and talk about, their belief in nothing?”

    So would that make it the Seinfeld of invocations, then?

  12. scienceavenger says

    What if a “Witch Doctor” comes to the podium with a full-on costume, chicken-feet, a voodoo doll and other associated over-the-top regalia? It could easily get out of hand, so far as I can tell…

    Yeah, I hear one nut job showed up with a sculpture of a half naked dude nailed to a tree, can you imagine!

  13. spamamander, internet amphibian says

    Was that the same dude who was going on about some virgin getting knocked up and crackers being the meat of the dead guy? Total nutjob that one.

  14. says

    Actually, Modus, I’ve been thinking about that.

    “I address my invocation, not to any supreme being, but to those gathered here for the purpose of writing laws. As you conduct your work, I ask that you exercise care and forethought. May justice, compassion, and reason guide you in your task; and your constituents, both those who voted for you and those who did not, be your first concern. Thank you.”

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