Members of the Lake Worth City Commissioners are causing a stir because of actions taken last week when an atheist gave the invocation before a government meeting. Preston Smith, an atheist from Miami, stood at the podium and prepared to give his invocation when Mayor Pam Triolo and three other commissioners stood and left the room.
“Our collective atheism — which is to say, loving empathy, scientific evidence, and critical thinking — leads us to believe that we can create a better, more equal community without religious divisions. May we pray together,” Smith began his invocation just after the walkout. According to the Broward/Palm Beach New Times, Smith invoked every religious figure in his prayer including Jesus, Buddha, Thor, and Zeus.
At the conclusion of Smith’s invocation, the mayor and commissioners reentered the room and the meeting proceeded. Wes Blackman, who posted the video on YouTube, told the Christian Post, “I think we ought to remember that part of free speech and expression is the ability to choose what you listen to. I am glad that I shared this video … I also think that the time has passed for invocations being a part of a government meeting.”
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, prayer is allowed in government meetings per the Supreme Court.
Mayor Triolo explained her actions this week and said her exit had nothing to do with Smith’s atheist position but rather because of a tweet he put out that she found offensive. “Free speech works both ways … You can say what you want and I can choose to leave.”
Triolo took her defense a step farther when she elaborated on her actions in a Facebook post discussing Smith’s offensive tweet in which he allegedly said the Biblical book of Deuteronomy sanctioned rape. Smith responded to Triolo’s post by calling it “slanderous” reports the Broward/Palm Beach New Times.
“Your recent public Facebook post is outrageously slanderous toward my image and I am urging you to immediately remove it and issue an apology to repair any damage caused,” Smith wrote. “The libelous nature of your maligned blame is nothing short of utterly appalling. We have taken note that this allegation has been posted on an official Mayoral account, using, presumably, city resources and time.”
Triolo did remove the post but the city website has been inundated with negative comments directed at the mayor. City Commissioner Christopher McVoy did not leave the meeting and believes the actions of his fellow commissioners was wrong. “[Walking out was] very un-American, and a slap in the face to the principles people fought very hard to make sure we had those rights,” said McVoy.
[ Image via Christian Post ]