Atheists are celebrating after a court said a Florida county board is discriminating against non-theists.
The case involves the Brevard County Board of Commissioners, which was accused of allowing only monotheistic religions to deliver the invocation.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, among several other groups, went to court claiming that was unconstitutional and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida agreed.
"It seems like the Who's Who of Atheism and Secularism got together and sued Brevard County, Florida," observes Liberty Counsel attorney Horatio Mihet.
The allegation, Mihet says, is that the county commission was discriminating against so-called secularists and humanists, and atheists, by not allowing them to participate in the opening prayer.
"But we all know what they were actually wanting to do," says the attorney, "which is to offer divisive and offensive, ridiculous so-called prayers just to cause division, to rile up the audience and eventually shut down the prayer practice."
A press release cheering the decision hinted at that, since a spokeswoman for the Freedom from Religious Foundation suggested the county body was "excluding dissenting points of view.”
Atheist groups are responding to a landmark 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that permits opening prayers if people of all faiths are given an opportunity to participate.
Following the Florida court's ruling, Brevard County attorney Scott Knox has said he will recommend that the county appeal the judge's ruling.
"We don't agree with the judge. We don't agree with the reasoning at all," Knox told FloridaToday.com. "I'm highly recommending that they appeal it, because I think the judge was dead wrong."