florida man led prayer to Satan at city council meeting
In a bid to make a mockery of the Lake Worth, Florida’s city council tradition of beginning each session with a Christian-themed invocation, atheist Preston Smith read a “prayer” that alternately hailed and praised both mythical and anti-religious figures.
But before Smith began to read his invocation, three city commissioners joined Mayor Pam Triolo in leaving the chambers.
“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,” Smith began.
Satan, Zeus, Buddha, Jesus
“May we pray together,” he continued:
Mother Earth, we gather today in your redeeming and glorious presence to invoke your eternal guidance in the universe. The original creator of all things.
May the efforts of this council blend the righteousness of Allah with the all-knowing wisdom of Satan. May Zeus, the great god of justice, grant us strength tonight.
Jesus might forgive our shortcomings, while Buddha enlightens us through his divine affection.
And so on. You can see the entire prayer here.
It was a few days before the mayor offered any explanation as to why she left the chamber, according to NBC affiliate WPTV.
“I didn’t leave because Mr. Smith is an atheist, I left because of his alleged tweet,” Triolo said, as quoted by the station.
She went on to say that Smith tweeted an offensive interpretation of scripture over the summer, and she explained that she thought his prayer would be along those lines, so she decided to leave before he began.
“Free speech works both ways,” Triolo said. “You can say what you want and I can choose to leave.”
One commissioner, Christopher McVoy, did remain during the invocation. He told the local station he had no idea why the other commissioners walked out before Smith began but he said their decision to do so bothered him.
“If we choose to have an invocation, we have a responsibility to respectfully listen,” McVoy told the NBC affiliate’s news team. He added that if there was an issue, then it should have been taken care of prior to the meeting.
“There’s just a place where I draw a line“
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,” he said.
McVoy said he had not yet seen the tweet to which Triolo was referring to, and Smith refused to confirm to the news team whether or not he actually authored it.
“There’s just a place where I personally draw a line, and I have to be who I am,” Triolo said.
The three other commissioners were either not reached prior to the story or did not comment on why they left the chamber.
For his part, Smith said he believes that the act was nothing but discrimination against his views.