Who has given the invocation during the 2018-2019 city council year?

Aug 29, 2018–the next meeting

Aug 14, 2018–Reverend Katherine Morehead-St. Johns Episcopal Church

July 24, 2018–At this LINK you can hear the invocation given at the first city council meeting of Aaron Bowman’s term as city council president.  Perhaps if you listen to the introduction to the invocation, you (too) will have these questions:

1. What did Council Member Schellenberg mean by faith-based?  Is he signaling that he (like Doyle Carter) won’t be inviting those that are non-religious to give the invocation?  

2. Why did Council Member Gulliford ask everyone to stand before the invocation?  That’s not allowed, correct?

3. Is Council Member Schellenberg the new appointed Chaplain per Jacksonville City Council rule 1.106 ?  

RULE 1.106 CHAPLAIN The President may appoint one Council Member to be Chaplain of the Council, who shall arrange to open each meeting of the Council with a prayer/invocation. The President or Chaplain may invite or designate others to provide appropriate ceremonies.


Don’t burden the public schools with unnecessary rules

If a rule is good, then all schools getting taxpayer money (including those tax credit scholarship funds) should be required to follow it.  If it isn’t a good rule, then why do public schools have to follow it?

Please write your state representative.  And if they don’t agree with you, please consider that when you vote in August and November.  Why are charters and private schools that receive taxpayer money not required to follow the same rules (including FS 1006.28 to 1006.31) as public schools?   You can find those statutes at LINK

In my view Florida Citizens Alliance is the bad guy in this story.  Flascience.org is the good guy.

Quote from an article found at http://www.flascience.org/?p=3280 :

And parent Eric Otto said “… Florida Citizens Alliance wants religion to balance science in a science class. To me that seems like teaching financial literacy in english class.”

Here is a quote from the Florida Citizens Alliance website (LINK)

[Under] FS 1006.31 Charlotte County residents [note it says residents and not parents] presented their concerns to the school board ……. at least fifteen of the textbooks present evolution as fact. … which violates [according to Florida Citizens Alliance] Florida law (FS 1006.31.2) that requires textbooks to be “accurate, objective, balanced, non-inflammatory”

Excerpt from Rabbi Shapiro’s article that alerted me to this issue:

The Florida Citizen’s Alliance, the FLCA, is likely to bring their efforts to a county near us!  We must remain vigilant and prepared to preserve academic integrity and sound science. When they challenge textbooks being used in our neighborhoods, a hearing is required [by FS 1006.31]. You can be a hearing officer, if you wish!  Just contact the school board and let them know you wish to become a hearing officer for cases of school book challenges!

How to Contact the Board Office


• District 1 – The Honorable Cheryl Grymes| grymesc@duvalschools.org

• District 2 – The Honorable Scott Shine  shinef@duvalschools.org

• District 3 – The Honorable Ashley Smith Juarez| juareza1@duvalschools.org

• District 4 – The Honorable Paula D. Wright| wrightp@duvalschools.org

• District 5 – The Honorable Warren A. Jones | jonesw2@duvalschools.org

• District 6 – The Honorable Becki Couch | couchr@duvalschools.org

• District 7 – The Honorable Lori Hershey | hersheyl@duvalschools.org


• District 1 – The Honorable Cheryl Grymes | 390-2371

• District 2 – The Honorable Scott Shine | 390-2386

• District 3 – The Honorable Ashley Smith Juarez | 390-2239

• District 4 – The Honorable Paula D. Wright | 390-2374

• District 5 – The Honorable Warren A. Jones | 390-2372

• District 6 – The Honorable Becki Couch | 390-2373

• District 7 – The Honorable Lori Hershey | 390-2375

IF someone insists on discriminating against minority religions as part of their government job, then that isn’t the job for them.  Catholics, Baptists, Jews, Buddhists, Atheists, and all other world views need to be treated equally.

During the 2017-2018 City Council year, Doyle Carter has invited mostly Baptists to give the invocation. Here is a link to the list of invocation speakers for the 2017-2018 City Council year:  https://uniteusdonotdivideus.com/category/invocations-and-jacksonville-information/who-has-given-the-invocation-this-year/

I have asked Doyle Carter repeatedly about his selection process.  My question went unanswered.

If Doyle Carter runs for another office, please keep in mind that he did not answer my question asking him how he selects invocation speakers.  I was told by City Council President Anna Brosche that Carter volunteered for the position of chaplain.   Why is he refusing to tell us how he selects the invocation speakers?  Is that the kind of elected official you want in office?   Do you want to elect someone who won’t tell his constituents how he conducts the job he has volunteered to do?

The Jacksonville City Council has an invocation forum which is supposed to be open to the public. The Greece v Galloway U.S. Supreme Court decision is clear when it comes to invocations at City Council meetings. If the Jacksonville City Council opens the forum to the public, then it must be open to all voices. In other words, you don’t get to pick and choose whom you accept and whom you refuse. When you ignore a Jacksonville citizen or an entire subset of Jacksonville citizens attempting to participate in this public forum, you are essentially saying to that person or persons their beliefs or their invocations are not welcome in their own community. It’s prejudicial and unconstitutional, but it is also unkind and unfair.

The City Council President can appoint a chaplain.  The chaplain is in charge of appointing invocation speakers.  The City Council President (and hence the President’s appointees) changes every year. I hope future City Council Presidents will appoint chaplains who do not have a goal of excluding people from the invocation period.

IF someone has the belief that all prayers need to include the words “in Jesus’s name we pray” and if they also believe  no one should be allowed to give the invocation (out loud at the podium at a government meeting) unless they agree to say those words, then this person is NOT someone who should be appointed as chaplain.   Here is a quote from past City Council President Clay Yarborough:

 “The scripture teaches that unless one prays in the name of Jesus Christ, and since he is our only way to the Father, that is how one should pray. And that is what I believe.”

That quote can be found at this link: https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/inquisition-in-jacksonville-religious-right-grills-muslim-nominee-for  When Yarborough became City Council President, he appointed Doyle Carter to be Chaplain.  During that 2014-2015 City Council year, only Doyle Carter and Kimberly Daniels gave the invocation. They both always said the words “in Jesus’ Name We Pray” during the invocation period.  Many people spoke during the public comment period about the practice of not inviting the entire community to have the opportunity to speak during the invocation period. Here is a link to one of those 3 minute public comments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Facp1ckvJAA

During the 2015-2016 City Council year, a Humanist’s request to give the invocation was accepted.  Here is the link to his invocation at the city council meeting:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyoD4__nfZ0&t=14s

During the 2016-2017 City Council year, there was more diversity as seen on the list at this link: https://uniteusdonotdivideus.com/2016/07/31/invocation-speakers-july-2016-to-june-2017-for-jacksonville-city-council-meetings/

BUT during the 2017-2018 City Council year, Doyle Carter has invited mostly Baptists to give the invocation. Here is a link to the list of invocation speakers for the 2017-2018 City Council year:  https://uniteusdonotdivideus.com/category/invocations-and-jacksonville-information/who-has-given-the-invocation-this-year/  Please note that it is one Catholic and the rest Protestants and mostly Baptists.  Why didn’t Carter invite speakers from other religions?  Why did he volunteer for a job that he didn’t want to properly perform?

Here is a copy of my emails where I asked Carter about his policy:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Susan
Date: Mon, Apr 9, 2018
To: “Carter, Doyle” <doylec@coj.net>, “Brosche, Anna” <ABROSCHE@coj.net>, “Gabriel, Jason” <JGabriel@coj.net>
Honorable Doyle Carter,

The list that you sent me did not include the date that the speakers applied.  IF you do NOT keep track of that, please let me know.  IF you did keep track of it, please provide me that information under the rules of 119 or the Florida Statutes.  Specifically I have these questions:
1. Do you put people on the schedule as they apply?  If yes, was the list that you provided me in order of when people applied?
2. Do you put people on a list of people applying with no indication of the date they applied?  If yes, how do you pick who will be on the schedule?
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Susan
Date: Fri, Apr 6, 2018

Council Member Carter— Thank you for the list (attached).  I had hoped that it would include the dates that people contacted you requesting to be put on the list and the method by which they contacted you.  Would you please include that information?  How do you make your choices?  Do you put people on the list as they call (or email) with the date of contact?
Concerned citizen that loves our First Amendment


Please ask the city council to be inclusive and respect all residents of Jacksonville

I appreciate the hard work of the city council.   I appreciate that other city council presidents have invited diverse groups.  I hope that future city council presidents won’t follow the example of City Council Chaplain Doyle Carter as he followed a discriminatory policy during his 2017-2018 reign as chaplain.  There should be an open and transparent and non discriminatory policy of inviting invocation speakers.   Everyone needs to be included and be given the chance to pray or give an inspirational invocation OR else they should quit doing them.

Please consider writing the new city council president.  Perhaps you’d say something like this (I copied it from someone else):

Past Council Presidents, through their designated Council Chaplains, have gotten this practice right. For example, the diversity of the invocation speakers was very appropriate, and affirming of all people, during the time your colleague, Council Member Joyce Morgan, served as Chaplain. However, her sterling example served as a tremendous contrast to the invocation speakers selected by her successor, Council Member Doyle Carter. Unfortunately, despite repeated requests made to Council President Anna Brosche and Council Member Carter, there was very little diversity among the invocation speakers selected to deliver remarks in the current Council year.

We are asking you today, before your term as Council President begins, to be thoughtful about your selection of Chaplain. We especially are asking that the faith and thought leaders chosen to give the invocation at future Council meetings is as representative as possible of the diversity of our City. As a world-class City, we hope to see men and women, racial and ethnic diversity, and theists and non-theists represented.

Sometimes we decide that we’re going to speak out about the injustices

Reprinted with permission.
This is by Rabbi Merrill Shapiro

The story goes that three frogs were sitting on a lily pad when one decided to jump off to cool herself off in the refreshing waters in the pond. At that point, how many frogs were sitting on the lily pad?

This is a frequently told story by former Mayor of Palm Coast, Jon Netts. A long time educator in Bergen County, New Jersey, Netts would use this story to illustrate an important point.

So….what’s the answer?

Netts, with his charming smile and sparkling eyes would be happy to tell you.

The answer is three!! Were you fooled? Or, did you see where this was headed from the start?

Making a decision to do something just isn’t the same as getting it done! We all, at some time or another, make a decision to do something, but never quite follow through, never quite turn our decision into a reality.

Sometimes we decide that we’re going to speak out about the injustices sustained by non-Christians every time a Jacksonville City Council invocation includes the name of Jesus. But do we follow through? Do we jump into the cool, refreshing water or does a body at rest tend to stay at rest? Think about the non-Christian children who attend those meetings. Do they deserve to have their “leaders” let them know they are only second-class citizens because of their heartfelt beliefs?

Sometimes we decide that we need to weigh-in on laws that discriminate on the basis of religious beliefs. Certainly while you are reading this, our Muslim sisters and brothers would like to see us step up and do something. But, we too often find ourselves just sitting on the lily pad. The inertia in our bones and hearts allows an unconstitutional and downright un-American practice of not permitting Muslim immigrants access to our borders, to become rooted.

After all, the only thing evil needs to triumph is my silence and yours!

Let’s go ask the city council to be inclusive.

I know many wish government personnel would just quit doing prayers out loud at the podium at government meetings.  And maybe some prefer a moment of silence to start off a government meeting so that each person can silently pray in their own way right before the meeting.  BUT barring either one of those two options, it seems to me it might be nice if a group like One Jax would volunteer to co-ordinate invocation speakers. Don’t Republicans love outsourcing? Why not outsource the job of finding invocation speakers to a group who honors and embraces the value of inclusiveness? One Jax may not want to do it but maybe there is a group similar to One Jax who would agree to do it.

From One Jax website:

OneJax is an interfaith organization dedicated to achieving civility, understanding and respect for all through education, dialogue and community-building. Our vision is an inclusive community where difference is welcomed and celebrated.

Jacksonville is a very diverse community. The prior City Council Chaplains were able to find a wide variety of people to give the invocation.  Why won’t Doyle Carter?

Jacksonville city’s attorney seems to knows that what Carter is doing is wrong.  The attorney’s memo dated September 20, 2014 includes the words:

“The Court suggests that nondiscrimination is important ….. This should be taken as a warning that if a legislative body chooses to invite speakers, then it should be careful not to engage in discrimination.

For your convenience, here is the link to the memo:


Why did Carter pick so many Baptists to give the invocation? Is it because Carter is a Baptist? There is one Catholic on the list to give an invocation.   No Jews. No Humanists.  No Buddhists.  No Hindus.  No Sikhs.   No Unitarians.   Why not?

Do you think the invocation period could  be an opportunity for the city council to embrace inclusiveness? Why did Carter pick so many Baptists to give the invocation? Here is the list of who Carter has chosen:

7/25: Pastor McGinley- Old Plank Baptist Church
8/8: Keith Russell- Westside Baptist Church
8/22: Adam Peterson- Rise Church
9/18: Pat Archuleta- Chaplin of Cecil Field POW/MIA and Jesus Loves Veterans Ministry
9/26: Mac Brunson- First Baptist Church of Jacksonville
10/10: Chaplain David Williams from JSO Jails Division
10/24: Dwayne Sumner- Normandy Baptist Church
11/14: Clarence Jarrell- JSO Chaplin
11/28: Bishop Guns- St. Paul’s Missionary Baptist Church
12/12: CM Carter
1/9: Jason Reed- Old Plank Baptist Church- Family Ministries
1/23: Bishop Edward Robinson- Southside Church of God in Christ
2/13: Brunson Clements- Whitehouse Baptist Church
2/27: David Hill- First Ministries
3/13: Ted Corley- Mission First Coast
3/27: Mark Griffin- Wayman Temple
4/10: Tom Messer- Trinity Baptist Church
4/24: Esther Wilder- Westside Family Worship Center- Women’s Ministry
5/8: Gary Wiggins- Evangel Temple
5/22: Fred Newbill: First Timothy Baptist
6/12: Father Tom Willis- Diocese of St. Augustine
6/26: Amy Slater- Sr. Associate St. Mary’s Episcopal Church

No spanking

All this is copied from Becky’s page where she said we were free to share:

I’ve [again this “I” here and below is Becky since this was copied from her page] been asked to share some links to studies and information about using corporal punishment with children.

Here we go! See the comments for additional links.

This is public, you are welcome to share.


This may be one of the best articles to read because of how plainly it illustrates that in the US, we overvalue pain and undervalue children. This simple phrase – overvaluing pain and undervaluing children – is a really devastating indictment of our culture.

And it’s true, you can see in many domains of life how children are undervalued (e.g. funding of education) and pain is overvalued (consider the dominant religious culture that is founded on human sacrifice, torture, and blood atonement; or consider the pressures of the workplace)


Slapping and spanking in childhood and its association with lifetime prevalence of psychiatric disorders in a general population sample

This study took place in Canada.


When you hit your kindergartner more, your kindergartner hits their peers more.


This is a video discussing child abuse in the context of the video game of The Walking Dead, for those who might be more interested in video content, gaming, etc than reading scientific studies.


Spanking increases antisocial behaviors.


This study was investigating whether effects of spanking are different amongst different cultural/ethnic groups.


Spanking 3 year olds increases aggressive behavior seen through age 5.


“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents be encouraged and assisted in the development of methods other than spanking for managing undesired behavior.”


This is a good article from a mommy blog that gives parents some good tips for how to manage their toddler’s behavior. This is a good resource for those who want to get their information from a layperson who has several children of their own.


Spanking and Child Development: We Know Enough Now to Stop Hitting Our Children

Spanking is violence against children.


Article by Rabbi Shapiro about Amendment on Florida’s Nov 2018 ballot

Forward–article by Rabbi Shapiro
Did you know that Florida has a commission, mandated by Sunshine State voters in 1968, that meets only every 20th year? It began in 1978, met again (different commissioners, but same commission) in 1998, and now in 2018! Prepare yourself—it will meet again in 2038 and 2058 unless the law is changed!

This group is called “The Constitution Revision Commission” and is made up of the Attorney General, fifteen appointees from the Governor, nine appointees from the Florida Senate President, nine appointees from the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and three appointees from the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court. You need to know this just to get an idea of where on the political spectrum, from left to right, these commissioners are situated!

The work of the Constitution Revision Commission began in September 2017 with organizational meetings and the process of collecting proposals for changing Florida’s Constitution. Proposals were solicited from the public and the commissioners themselves. A process for narrowing the list down from the 782 public proposals and 103 commissioner proposals led to a list of 37 proposals that were brought to a series of “listening meetings” around the state including one on the campus of the University of North Florida. It was an opportunity for public comment on the 37 proposals and 180 people signed up to have their voices heard.

One of the proposals calls for the elimination of language from our Florida Constitution, Article I, SECTION 3. Religious freedom. That Section 3 currently reads:

There shall be no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting or penalizing the free exercise thereof. Religious freedom shall not justify practices inconsistent with public morals, peace or safety. No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.

Proposal 4 (it will have a different amendment # when it appears on our ballot) calls for the elimination of that second sentence of Article 1, Section 3. Eliminating that second sentence would allow the government to take revenue from the “public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.”

A powerful delegation, led by Freethought Society’s Earl Coggins went to the hearing to oppose Proposal 4. The speakers on our side (and there were many who were not part of the Freethought Society, educators, representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters, prominent among them) were eloquent in their defense of the wall of separation of church and state that has made our country so great. Many spoke of the real intent of this proposal, to fund religious schools that otherwise are unregulated by the state, have teachers with little more than high school educations, principals who have not graduated from college, curricula that teach science based on superstitions debunked during the renaissance and revisionist history that speaks to the Christian roots of our country. Many did not want to be coerced into supporting religious institutions whose teachings are counter to their own beliefs.

Hopefully the commissioners were listening! But if not, Proposal 4 calling on the end of the restriction of funding religious institutions with tax money, yours and mine, will, undoubtedly, find its way to a ballot that you will have an opportunity to cast this fall!

The price of our liberty is eternal vigilance! We were lucky to have Freethought Society President Earl Coggins and his delegation speaking for us, against this proposal!

All must be included


Excerpts from article at above link :
A federal court on Sept. 30, 2017 struck down a Florida county’s divisive practice of refusing to allow non-theistic invocations at the start of the county commission’s meetings. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit brought by Americans United and allies.

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ruled that the policy of Brevard County’s Board of Commissioners to allow only monotheistic, overwhelmingly Christian invocations violated both the U.S. and Florida Constitutions – due to the government’s favoring of certain faiths.

David Williamson, one of the plaintiffs in the case, told the newspaper Florida Today, “I’m very pleased with what I read in the decision. This was straight-up discrimination, in relegating us to second-class citizenship in denying us our participating in the invocations.”

In 2014, Williamson, a U.S. Navy veteran and ordained Humanist celebrant, requested that a member of the Central Florida Freethought Community be permitted to offer an invocation. He was denied.

Commissioners seemingly just assumed that the intent of the non-theists was to denigrate Christianity and other monotheistic religions. In reality, the non-theists had no intention of speaking ill of other faiths, nor were they seeking to stop others from giving monotheistic prayers. Rather, they simply wanted the chance to occasionally offer words of encouragement to their government officials and solemnize the meetings in a way that was inclusive to people of all faiths.

“People are often surprised by what they hear, and they like it,” Williamson previously told Church & State about the non-theistic invocations offered elsewhere in Florida. “All of the invocations conducted in central Florida thus far have been radically inclusive of everyone in attendance, celebrated the diversity of the community and acknowledged that together we can face the challenges that come our way. ”

Barry W. Lynn, AU’s then-executive director, summed up the inclusivity required of legislative prayers when the Fields case was filed: “When governmental bodies open their meetings with invocations, no viewpoints should be excluded. That includes people who do not believe in God. No one should be made to feel like a second-class citizen by their government.”