Please ask people to apply to give the invocation

I wrote this letter to the editor a couple of years ago when Clay Yarborough was City Council President and Doyle Carter was chaplain:

http://members.jacksonville.com/opinion/letters-readers/2014-09-05/story/sundays-lead-letter-prayers-city-council-should-be-more

In the Supreme Court decision, Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Court emphasized that a government’s prayer practice must be “nondiscriminatory” and it must make reasonable efforts to include invocations from all members of the community, regardless of their faith. In fact, the completely open selection process was crucial to the prayers being upheld: “The town at no point excluded or denied an opportunity to a would-be prayer giver. Its leaders maintained that a minister or layperson of any persuasion, including an atheist, could give the invocation.” (Town of Greece, N.Y. v. Galloway, 12-696, 2014 WL 1757828 (U.S. May 5, 2014)) Therefore, excluding a particular faith group from consideration is unconstitutional. (Pelphrey v. Cobb County, 547 F.3d 1263, 1276 (11th Cir. 2008)).

The Supreme Court ruled in Greece v. Galloway that if city councils want to have prayers at government meetings, they need to rotate among all the groups in town.  When Greg Anderson and Lori Boyer were City Council President, they appointed chaplains that did an OK job rotating speakers.

I know some may wonder why it matters.  And I know many think that people should pray with like-minded folks rather than as a public display at a government meeting where people of various faiths are in attendance.

However, I think the invocation period could be used to help to make the various groups within our city feel welcome.  So in my view, it makes sense that the current chaplain (Doyle Carter) should want to reach out to the minority groups.

Quote from President Bush’s recent speech (LINK ) about the need for leadership:

This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed. (Applause.)

And it means that the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation.

We need a renewed emphasis on civic learning in schools. And our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.

If you know anyone (especially someone from a minority group) that is willing to give the invocation at a city council meeting, please ask them to contact Doyle Carter.   You can email him at doylec@coj.net.   If he refuses to put a speaker on the schedule from your group, please consider letting the watch group know at this link:

https://au.org/get-involved/report-a-violation/form

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