Reading the Bible in a public setting is under attack in a Florida town – and one of the usual suspects is responsible for the attack.
At the conclusion of city commissioner meetings in Deltona, Florida, commissioners can make brief statements of their choice. Christopher Alcantara, who was elected in November, chooses to read scriptures from the Bible.
Commissioner Alcantara received a letter from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, claiming Bible-reading by a public official violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Alcantara tells OneNewsNow that's a false statement.
"I just think some people often misinterpret what the Establishment Clause says," he offers, "and a lot of that misinterpretation just spreads. It's like the plague that keeps spreading, and more people start buying into the false interpretation."
Regarding his penchant for God's Word, Alcantara explains that when he sees something that touches his heart and feels that others might benefit from it, he shares it in a meeting. "I don't expound on it – I just read it and more on," he tells The Christian Times.
The letter from Americans United describes reading scripture at the end of the meetings as "proselytizing," and asserts that requiring Alcantara to stop wouldn't violate his free-speech rights because he's a city official speaking on behalf of the government.
"My reaction when I first saw it made me laugh, I'm going to be honest," he tells OneNewsNow, "because they sent me this letter and I sent them an email [saying] Sorry, I didn't bother to read all of your letter. I'm not going to stop."
Alcantara – the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic – says he's not the type to be intimidated easily.
The mayor and vice-mayor, along with another commissioner, oppose the scripture reading while two of three other commissioners have no issue with it. The city attorney has written a memo to commissioners explaining that Alcantara isn't wrong in what he's doing, so he says the situation will have to play out.