Susan E.
Group Organizer
Jacksonville, FL
Post #: 628
One idea is that we will have quarterly meetings. And as part of those meetings, we will have a letter writing campaign.

One suggestion for the first letter writing campaign is to inquire about the City Council's policy about prayers prior to their meetings.

Here is an article about their policy:


Here is a list of who has given the invocation in the last year:­

I don't think there is much diversity. I feel that AU members might be alarmed at the lack of diversity. I realize that many members will be alarmed that any religion is favored at government meetings.

In the coming weeks, I will draft a letter and post here for your suggestions for changes and/or improvements. I will bring the final version of the letter to the next meeting to hand out to the members that would like a copy.
David V.
user 70086952
Orange Park, FL
Post #: 6
I am not sure how I missed that article, but I am very interested in helping. Please keep me in the loop and how I can help out. Email is the best way to get a hold of me. thank you
Susan E.
Group Organizer
Jacksonville, FL
Post #: 629
Here is a possible letter we could write to our city council member. Please offer feedback. Hopefully we will all meet for dinner to discuss in the upcoming months. I just sent this via email to the council member in my district:


I am in your district. I don't see a lot of diversity among the invocation speakers. Could you tell me what steps you are taking to give all religious and non-religious groups the opportunity to give the invocation at the city council meetings? Perhaps developing a rule that one person cannot give the invocation more than once per year? Sending invitations to various religious and non-religious groups?

If you answer that is too time consuming, then you should consider eliminating the invocation.   Government is NOT supposed to favor one religion (or non-religion) over another.
Susan E.
Group Organizer
Jacksonville, FL
Post #: 630
Our city is even worse...most of the invocations are Baptist...not even a variety of Christians.
AU web site talking about something similar
quote from that link:

On Nov. 6, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Town of Greece v. Galloway. The case, sponsored by Americans United, challenges the use of almost exclusively Christian prayers before meetings of the town board in Greece, N.Y.
Susan E.
Group Organizer
Jacksonville, FL
Post #: 638­

The case was heard. That is a link to what the national AU is saying.
Susan E.
Group Organizer
Jacksonville, FL
Post #: 639
quote from below link:
In other words, the fate of a thirty-year-old precedent, Marsh v. Chambers, was very much at issue in the one-hour hearing Wednesday on Town of Greece v. Galloway (docket 12-696), but its reaffirmation could be the only way to get together a majority after the Justices in coming weeks weigh a dizzying array of alternatives. If there are any alternatives that were not explored Tuesday, they probably would be too strange for anyone to take seriously.


Here is another quote from that article (something we might be able to work into our letter to our city council):

The Court has sometimes judged church-government issues by whether a policy or practice amounted to an endorsement of religion, and has sometimes used the test of whether government was trying to “coerce” someone into embracing a government-approved faith. And the Justices considered both of those tests, in varying formulations, but it was not evident that a consensus was looming.
Susan E.
Group Organizer
Jacksonville, FL
Post #: 641
Another article. Maybe we can quote this article in our letter:­
Susan E.
Group Organizer
Jacksonville, FL
Post #: 642

That is a link to an article about a Humanist that gave the invocation at his City Council meeting
Susan E.
Group Organizer
Jacksonville, FL
Post #: 643

That is link to the transcript of the oral arguments. Town of Greece vs Galloway

Below I am listing a few snippets from the oral arguments that I found interesting.

In the below section are some snippets talking about allowing prayers from various groups:

JUSTICE BREYER: ... Then the fourth approach ….. let's try to be inclusive. ….. so you didn't get the right prayer today, but you -- and even with the nonreligious, … you'll have your chance. And that's the thing I -- I would like you to explore. I mean, is there a way of doing that …

MR. LAYCOCK: We think that rotation does not work. First of all, because -- for several reasons, but most citizens come for a single issue to one or two meetings. They get the prayer they get that night. They don't benefit from the rotation scheme. …

In the below section are some snippets talking about what kind of prayer would be acceptable at a City Council meeting:

JUSTICE ALITO: … we have a very religiously diverse country. There are a lot of Muslims, there are a lot of Hindus, there are Buddhists, there are Baha'is, there are all sorts of other adherents to all sorts of other religions. And they all should be treated equally, and -- but I don't -- I just don't see how it is possible to compose anything that you could call a prayer that is acceptable to all of these groups.

And Justice Kagan sums it up:

JUSTICE KAGAN: Part of what we are trying to do here is to maintain a multi-religious society in a peaceful and harmonious way. And every time the Court gets involved in things like this, it seems to make the problem worse rather than better. What do you think?

And in another section, I think the Justices are joking…..

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: We've already excluded the atheists, right?

JUSTICE SCALIA: Yeah, the atheists are out already.

MR. LAYCOCK: We've excluded the atheists. I don't think the Baha'i are excluded, but I'm not certain.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Okay. So who else? … you say just the vast majority is all that we have to cater to.

MR. LAYCOCK: Well, I -- I think the – the atheists are inevitably excluded. We can't help -­

That was just a few snippets from the oral arguments. Hopefully the Justices don’t plan to exclude the atheists as Mr Laycock suggests. Below is a link to all the briefs. Please keep in mind that we’re the respondents. The Town of Greece lost their appeal so they are the petitioners. The brief filed by the ACLU is very cool. They certainly aren’t excluding the atheists. American Humanists and American Atheists also filed briefs.


Earl C.
Jacksonville, FL
Post #: 11
I respectfully disagree with what you submitted to Folio's mail section. Within a week or two I will post a retort as to why the Jacksonville City Council should have NO prayers at their public meetings.
Vice President, NE Florida Chapter AU
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Jacksonville­, FL

Founded Oct 16, 2013

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Susan Ert-ker, Bobbie Nord, david schwam-baird, Earl Coggins

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