This is the APPLE Biter Blog, commentary and news on local religion and secular government.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Facebook Xtian Exchange, John Amonett

  • This is pretty typical.  I cut off the conversation when it was clear he could not see beyond his narrow point of view.
To answer his last question (what do I want?) I want to be able to participate in my local government without our elected leaders asking anyone to pray against their conscience.

  • John Amonett

    Are you the jerk that keeps disrupting the school board meetings??
  • John Amonett
    John Amonett

    So write me back if you are man enough?

    Oh that's right, you have to go hide behind those loser idiots in Wisconsin

    With the ffffff fffff rrrrrrr ffffff

    Bunch of losers just like you are!!!
  • John Amonett
    John Amonett

    God bless you brother!!! I'll pray for you David!!!!
  • Today
  • David Suhor
    David Suhor

    I can see you are lost. May you be touched by his noodly appendages. May you embrace the Luciferian impulse to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. May you recognize the Constitutional tenet that our government shall establish no religion. Hail Goddess! Ramen.
    PS If you prefer, please read and obey Jesus's command in Matthew 6:5-6.
  • John Amonett
    John Amonett

    David, having a Christian prayer before a meeting does not in any way establish a religion!!! It is those board members that choose to pray!! The only thing our Constitution says is that the government shall not establish a particular religion!! I agree, however, this country was founded on Christian principles, and I expect it to be governed accordingly!! You, as well as everyone else, have the right to believe and worship as chosen, or do nothing!! But you don't have any right going to a meeting and disrupting it just because you have some idea that those board members don't do as you think they should!! Do you even have kids in that school district?
    As for you quoting the Bible to me, you are way out of line David!!!
  • David Suhor
    David Suhor

    The ECSB is welcome to pray all they want before the meeting. I invoke my right to the same right, but am called disruptive. Fine. But when they use the apparatus of government to promote one kind of prayer, they cross the line. Their own student handbook policy says that staff may not lead students in prayer, but that a moment silence is appropriate. Yet they push Christian prayer on the audience, routinely asking students and adults to take part. The fact that they refuse prayers from minorities expressly contradicts the Supreme Court's Galloway ruling - that any person may participate and that nondiscrimination is required in choosing who does. To understand the law better, you should read the letters from FFRF on my blog. Also, read about school prayer. It can't be instituted by staff. That includes the ECSB. Then refer back to Jesus' words, per the KJB. Rightly, he calls the ECSB hypocrites. They don't even pray before the other meetings - just when a large audience is present. Why is that? Finally,how would you feel if local councils started every meeting with a Muslim prayer? Unwelcome? Excluded? That how some minorities when our local governments ask us to pray to their genocidal, megalomaniacal, vengeful, paternal, and intensely jealous god. They should be doing the work of government, not imposing their personal faith. Nice to educate you, but I don't have time to school every right-winger. Read my blog - Goddess bless.
  • John Amonett
    John Amonett

    David, what makes your idea the correct way?
  • John Amonett
    John Amonett

    I will state it again. This country was founded on Christian principles!!! If a person chooses to believe otherwise, so be it!! They have that right!!! Islam is garbage!!! It says that women are 2nd class, the Bible says the complete opposite!!! Your prayers are done to disrupt the meeting!!! What other purpose do you have?
  • David Suhor
    David Suhor

    There's no point arguing. Come speak up at the meetings. Show 'em we're a Christian nation! How about the Lord's Prayer during the public forum? I dare you.
  • John Amonett
    John Amonett

    I've done it David

    Let me tell you something my little friend!!! I'm the one with the financial resources to start fighting against idiot groups like the ffrf. They have 21000 members!! The Christians in this country outnumber them exponentially!!!
  • David Suhor
    David Suhor

    Please fight for discrimination and Christian privilege and against secular government and the Supreme Court's rulings. AmericaStan needs your input.
  • John Amonett
    John Amonett

    What do you want David?
  • John Amonett
    John Amonett

    Your last message seems to be a little unclear!!

Friday, February 20, 2015

PNJ Article Facebook Comments - Bergosh Responds!

Jeff Bergosh ·  Top Commenter · School Board Member- 1st District at Escambia County School Board Office
We follow the law Richard White--and you are dead wrong on this issue. I will stand my ground on this and not cow-tow to the loudest voice in the room on this. Understand this Richard---- as long as we are diverse in the selection of whom it is we allow to pray, then we do comport with the law and the board's attorney has confirmed this on multiple occasions at multiple meetings. Go find the tape and roll it back if you don't believe me. And the majority of the board has affirmed twice now at open meetings that we wish to continue our current practice. We are safe from losing a suit as long as we are diverse in the religious prayer we allow.. And let me tell you, we've been diverse. The last four meetings, here is the recap: 1. Christian prayer, 1. Jewish prayer, 1. Secular Oath (Future Farmers of America pledge), 1. Secular meditation (the flight of Geese). According to the law and the decisions in Marsh v. Chambers and Town of Greece v Galloway-per our attorney-we can maintain our practice of having the board rotate having speakers deliver a prayer for the benefit of the assembled legislative body (which the school board is, by the way, because we make policy and levy taxes) as it contemplates the actions it will take at the legislative assembly. Dime-store observations and arm-chair quarterbacking from those who do not apprehend this issue do not help. And one final thing. this board has not violated the law, the law does not state anything about freedom from religion--it is freedom of religion. Freedom of religion and freedom of religious expression enumerated clearly by our founding fathers, not freedom from religion or a wall of separation that appears nowhere in the constitution but rather was a phrase in a congenial letter written to a baptist association by an aging founding father, the content of which has been misappropriated and misinterpreted for centuries since...Figure these things out please for the love of God!
Reply · Like · 2 · Unfollow Post · about an hour ago

Matt Garner ·  Top Commenter
You show yourself in this response to be educated in the letter of the law, but in the reports of your actions during Mr. Suhor's prayer to be deficient in respect for others. For as much as you understand the legal aspect, you are woefully ignorant regarding the religious one. There is no relation whatsoever between pagan beliefs and Satanism. Satan is a solely Christian construct, and your attempt to slander Mr. Suhor as a wicked individual is not a behavior that I, personally, would want to see in a school district representative and as an example to our children.
Reply · Like · about an hour ago

David Suhor ·  Top Commenter · Singing telegrams at
Even the town of Greece maintains a policy that ANY PERSON may give an invocation, not just those approved by board members. ECSB rejects good faith invocation offers from minorities they don't like. Your own student handbook policy is that whenever students are present (as at school board meetings), staff may not hold prayers. To start a government meeting with prayer, and only of Christian-compatible flavor, is against Jesus's command (Matthew 6:5-6 - "hypocrites"), discrimination (illegal under Galloway), and an unnecessary entanglement of church and state. And it makes non-Christians feel unwelcome. To then threaten arrest when someone else prays according to their conscience is an unconstitutional abuse of power. This is a Godzilla-size distraction from your job and an exercise in political privilege and pious pretense by the board. A moment of silence or school-relevant secular words (as in Nov, Dec) respects all in attendance. You don't want to hear other faith's prayers? Don't push yours onto public functions. Just pray in your closet beforehand.
Reply · Like · Edited · 55 minutes ago

Jeff Bergosh ·  Top Commenter · School Board Member- 1st District at Escambia County School Board Office
David Suhor just because you blew off the invitation my counterpart made to you does not mean we are violating any law. You know it is not about prayer for you at all it is about getting attention like with your facebook post. Just re-read my post above and understand we are in compliance with the laws and the rulings and just because you and your friends may not have yet been invited does not mean we are discriminating against anyone--but you know that already dave. And remember, you always have the option of not coming to the meeting, seeing as so far as I can tell you have no connections to the schools whatsoever, excepting your extreme desire to garner and focus all the attention on yourself. So the better idea, since I actually serve and work in schools, is that if having diverse prayers from diverse speakers offends you so badly, I'd suggest you be the one to stay in your closet and say your renditions of prayers there, then if you must come to our meetings you can come out of the closet at that point and miss the opening prayer.

Debbie Trautmann ·  Top Commenter · University of West Florida
Why do you feel compelled to have an invocation at all? If it is so diverse, then have a Muslim or other non-Christian do it next month.
Reply · Like · 40 minutes ago

David Suhor ·  Top Commenter · Singing telegrams at
Jeff Bergosh Another lie, like when you denied asking me "are you Christian?" before rejecting my initial offer. I did not 'blow off' Mrs Hightower's invitation. I had a conflict that month. I cleared my schedule, then she rescinded, saying my religion is "offensive". If your policy is so open, why not put it in writing for all to see? And why not accept the multiple non-Biblical invocation offers you've received, rather than seeking out your first ever non-Xtian and unwitting token (by definition) Jewish substitute? It's the exclusion and censoring of minorities that will get the ECSB sued first. I hope you end up personally liable. BTW, I do have a connection to the schools. I am a certified social studies teacher, soon to be subbing in prep for next year's hiring. I'd make a great teacher of civics. Maybe I'll see you around school... if I don't get blacklisted.
Reply · Like · Edited · 33 minutes ago

Jeff Bergosh ·  Top Commenter · School Board Member- 1st District at Escambia County School Board Office
David Suhor Dave there was never any litmus test--just because you repeat that big lie over and over will never make it true--do you understand that?, the reason you were not invited by me was because you were so off-putting in your demand that I bring you as my invited guest to do a satanic prayer. That was how you wanted me to prove to you that I was not discriminating against you. I don't owe you anything, and I don't have to prove a damn thing to you, understand? You were invited and you declined. Now, get back in line and try being a little less antagonistic, why don't you? Remember, you get more more flies with honey that you will using straight vinegar.
Reply · Like · 3 minutes ago

Matt Garner ·  Top Commenter
Mr. Bergosh, your imperious attitude is highly off putting, and indicative of an entitled attitude. The audacity of telling another grown man to get back in line, and then in the same breath tell him that he can catch more flies with honey than vinegar!
Get a reality check, sir. You serve on a school board. That in NO way entitles you to speak to members of the public in this fashion!
Reply · Like · 10 minutes ago

David Suhor
Another lie.  I have only asked to give a Pagan invocation.  You mislabeled that "Satanic" and derided other traditions on your blog.  The litmus test was clear when you asked "Are you Christian" no... Pagan... "oh no, not ever, ever on my watch".    In fact, if you had listened to the Satanic Temple's beautiful invocation, you'd have heard a message of wisdom and reason to guide the school board.  And they are agnostic, not even believing in a literal Satan.  That's your fear, not mine.   As for vinegar and honey, I could have asked politely for years and never been called to offer my beautiful Pagan invocation of the four directions.  And what about the other offers?  They are not protesting, but are still being excluded.  So, yes, I choose to stand up for what's right.  My own only motive is equality and Constitutional justice.  Attention is necessary to make that happen - else the exclusion would be swept aside.  You'll get plenty more, and not just from me.  Finally, what of Matthew 6:5-6??  "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

Richard White ·  Top Commenter · Gulf Breeze, Florida
Mr. Bergosh - in reference to your comments about 'dimestore opinions' and 'armchair quarterbacking, and Mr. Suhor's interest in the process, please allow me to refresh your memory. Your budget indicates that you take both Federal and State funds - as long as ECSD is slopping at the public trough then EVERY tax payer has both a right and a duty to participate in the process to see that those tax dollars are spent wisely. The very theory of taxation of childless citizens who will never use the system is based upon the notion that a good educational system will improve the quality of life for all citizens and benefit society as a whole. You are an elected public official, and as such you are the EMPLOYEE of all of those tax payers and I would request that you treat each and every one with the respect due and employer by an employee.

The very nature of your 'selection' of diverse religions to insure that no minority religions are excluded lends itself to litigation _ iw ould suggest that you ask Ms. Waters about discrimination through omission as well as direct discrimination. The fact that there is a 'selection' system at all operated completely at the direction and discretion of the Board implies that some criteria is used to make the selection, therefore it can not be absolutely proven to be free of discrimination. On the other hand if you instituted a process whereby anyone wishing to offer an invocation had their name placed in a jar and the name randomly selected there could be no charge of bias. Perhaps you should explore this, and other, options.

In that vein, and in view of your stated reason for denying Mr. Suhor's request to you, I hereby RESPECTFULLY request that I be placed in that line to give an invocation at your next earliest convenience. As you have indicated that there is a 'line' I also request to know not only my number in that line, but the identity of the others ahead of me in that line. Please advise if you need an official public record's request to provide the information that I seek.

Respectfully yours,

Richard White
Reply · Like · 23 minutes ago

David Suhor ·  Top Commenter · Singing telegrams at
Richard White Spot on. I hope you'll speak out at the meetings as well. FYI: The BOCC uses the same discretionary (unwritten) policy, with the choice rotating between commissioners. Except that Mr May allowed me to pray (after much prodding). Mr Robertson straight up refuses non-Christians, also calling Pagans "Satanic". I suggest emailing your requests. The contact info is deep in my blog - September, I think. One thing I'll say good about Jeff - he speaks his mind.
Reply · Like · 2 seconds ago

Thursday, February 19, 2015 Article "Prayer issue plagues Escambia schools"

Here's the link.  I commented on it via Facebook:
by Will Isern
The Escambia County School Board has had enough of David Suhor, but they may soon be seeing him in court.
Suhor, a musician, singing telegram and self-described agnostic pagan pantheist, has made a habit of showing up to school board meetings with a prayer rug and delving into chanted prayers during invocations and public comment time. He wants the board to end its practice of opening meetings with prayer.
At the board's January meeting, Suhor chanted during an invocation by the rabbi Joel Fleekop who had been invited by board member Jeff Bergosh to open the meeting. The ongoing saga has been particularly heated between Suhor and Bergosh, who have gone back and forth trading barbs on their personal blogs.
"The ECSB is determined to do whatever they want (lead the room in CHRISTIAN prayer), regardless of the legality of such activities," Suhor wrote on his personal blog Thursday. "They even disregard their own attorney's advice to the contrary. The last thing they want to do is bring a policy for public discussion or answer letters. I foresee a lawsuit."
Suhor has enlisted the Freedom From Religion Foundation to his cause, and a FFRF staff attorney sent a letter to the school board's lawyer, Donna Waters, on Wednesday.
"Prayer at public school meetings is unnecessary, inappropriate, and as the board is discovering, divisive," the letter read. "Calling upon board members, as well as parents and students to pray is coercive, embarrassing, and beyond the scope of a public secular school system. . . . The board should cease prayer at board meetings."
At a recent workshop, the board discussed their options in dealing with Suhor in the future.
"I just want to say some brief things about what happened last month," Bergosh said. "It was infuriating to me. It was extremely disrespectful. It was an attack. It was an attack on my invited guest. . . . We've got to find a way to rein this person in. I understand people have a freedom of speech and freedom of expression, but when you cross the line and are disrupting a meeting and insulting invited guests, it must be shut down."
Waters advised the board their best option, legally, would be to do away with the opening prayers and instead have a moment of silence, but the board members were adamant they wanted to continue opening their meetings with an invocation.
"This month it's my decision to invite someone to give the invocation," board member Gerald Boone said. "I have no intention of compromising what I believe and what I've done for eight years because of the whims of one person that we would rather just go away. I don't care if he's here at every meeting until he's as white-headed as I am, I don't plan to compromise."

for the PNJ Viewpoint Opinion Section - "School Board Doubles-Down on Christian Privilege"

Finally under 600 words (minus headline and byline).  We'll see if it gets published.

VIEWPOINT: School Board Doubles-Down on Christian Privilege

I was disappointed, but not surprised, that the ECSB again affirmed illegally imposing Biblical prayer at its monthly public meetings.  In a workshop February 12, the board rejected its own attorney's recommendation of an inclusive moment of silence.  Instead, they agreed to seek out only Christians to kick off their meetings with a prayer.

That decision directly contradicts the Supreme Court (Galloway v Greece NY, 5-4, May 2014) which said that local legislative prayer there was OK because "a minister or layperson of ANY persuasion, including an atheist, could give the invocation" and because "the town maintains a policy of nondiscrimination".  The ECSB blatantly and stupidly flouts that ruling.  For months, they've disregarded requests from religious minorities, their attorney recently calling them of "bad faith".

Worse yet, the board suppresses non-Christian prayer, during the prescribed time and in the public forum.  At the same meeting, District 2's Gerald Boone angrily demanded that the board chair stop such prayerful "antics", as not of "relevance to public education".  Neither was the prayer he gave in February, but that doesn't seem to count.

District 1's Jeff Bergosh cites Christian privilege, saying "I believe... we're entitled to bring someone that represents our views" - as if citizens attend to hear prayers asking Jesus to bless this mess of self-righteous board members.

District 3's Linda Moultrie will only react if threatened with litigation, saying "I am willing to continue until someone says we have to do a moment of silence".  By someone, she must mean a judge.

For months, civil rights groups ( and have campaigned for clarification and change.  The board refuses to respond substantively and present a written policy.  Clearly, they cannot write one that comports with the law and let's them keep it Christian.  God forbid they bring the issue for a public vote and discussion.  That would just be divisive.

So, our school board continues discriminating.  In fact, they only recently had their first non-Christian "token".  Poor Rabbi Fleekop had no idea why Jeff Bergosh invited him in January... until I told him.  Bergosh wrote me with the truth, pretending he wanted "to be inclusive and diverse."  Yet he refused offers from Humanists, Pagans and atheists.

Just like the Escambia Commission, nothing changed after Galloway.  Each member still chooses who they want to pray and censors those they don't - thus assuring discrimination.  Thanks to school board chair Patty Hightower, at least now they are warning the audience (including many students) about what's coming.

Unfortunately, such prayers are against their only published policy; from the student handbook: "No person and no employee or agent of the District shall coerce, advocate, or encourage in any way whatsoever prayer or any other religious activity by students."

Oddly, ECSB only feels the need to impose prayer on some meetings.  They don't pray at the less-popular workshops, probably because there is no political reward in showing their piety to empty seats.

So here we stand... some of us anyway.  The school board will not obey the Supreme Court; they will not follow their own student policy; they will not even honor Christ's command, from Matthew 6:5-6.  What hypocrites!

It's time for the school board to welcome everyone at their meetings equally.  It's time to drop church from the agenda and get on with the business of schools.  It's time to put this issue to rest before a lawsuit takes money and focus away from our schools.  It's time to go to a moment of silence, so everyone may pray (or not), according to their conscience.

David Suhor, Activist for Religious Freedom,
blogging at

FFRF - Letter #3 to ECSB

Thank you, FFRF!

Sadly, these letters have become pointless.  The ECSB is determined to do whatever they want (lead the room in CHRISTIAN prayer), regardless of the legality of such activities.  They even disregard their own attorney's advice to the contrary.  The last thing they want to do is bring a policy for public discussion or answer letters.  I foresee a lawsuit.  It's just a matter of picking the right plaintiff, the right issue - whether it be inclusion for minorities per Galloway or ending it altogether, as school boards have students present and are not protected by Galloway anyway.  Until suit is filed, I'll keep up my activism, with some surprises in store soon!


VIDEO, Letter to ECSB's Boone After He Lead's Meeting's Prayer

- On the plus side, Mrs Hightower gave a nice warning.  That's good, but doesn't make this legal or right.  The prayer itself is illegal, against their own policy and Jesus', and has no place at a public meeting, especially for a (non-legislative) school board.

My Email:

Mr Boone, 

Sorry I could not be there in person. I had a long-scheduled previous engagement. I plan to be back next month.
You should know... your prayer Tuesday directly contradicts the student handbook, Supreme Court, and Jesus Christ:

Handbook: “No person and no employee or agent of the district shall coerce, advocate, or encourage in any way whatsoever prayer or any other religious activity by students." The room was FULL of students.

Galloway Decision: By passing over good faith offers from minorities and giving the invocation yourself (thus endorsing Christianity), you defy SCOTUS's narrow support of invocations: "a minister or layperson of ANY persuasion, including an atheist, could give the invocation" AND "So long as the town maintains a policy of nondiscrimination..." 

Matthew 6:5-6: "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

I also find it hypocritical and ironic that you think your prayers are relevant to school activities and protected as free expression, but you want to suppress mine and others' as illegal and irrelevant. That's rich.

I hope you will re-consider praying before the meeting and in private, so the board will not face litigation or further monthly reminders (from me and others) of your illegal co-mingling of church and state. I won't quit speaking up until you do.

with Regret, 

David Suhor
850 512-2220

PS. I still await a written invocation policy. It's too bad your attorney cannot craft one that supports what you want to do AND comports with the law.

Monday, February 16, 2015

SCOTUS Justice Kagan in Galloway Dissent

Everything about the situation infringes the First Amendment. That the Town Board selects, month after month and year after year, prayergivers who will reliably speak in the voice of Christianity, and so places itself behind a single creed. That in offering those sectarian prayers, the Board’s chosen clergy members repeatedly call on individuals, prior to participating in local governance, to join in a form of worship that may be at odds with their own beliefs. That the clergy thus put some residents to the unenviable choice of either pretending to pray like the majority or declining to join its communal activity, at the very moment of petitioning their elected leaders. That the practice thus divides the citizenry, creating one class that shares the Board’s own evident religious beliefs and another (far smaller) class that does not. And that the practice also alters a dissenting citizen’s relationship with her government, making her religious difference salient when she seeks only to engage her elected representatives.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

DRAFT - Comments for ECSB's Meeting, Tuesday 2.17.2015

As PREVIOUSLY planned, I could not attend that meeting.  I'll bring some of these comments next month... depending on what happened at the most recent meeting and whether the board acts to put their policy in writing (highly doubtful).  Also, there may be a legal challenge soon - not about making them stop leading public prayer (which they absolutely should), but making about the ECSB follow the dictates of Galloway - to include any person who wants to offer an invocation.  That's discrimination is an obvious loser for them.

Everyone here needs to know - this board has no intention of altering its illegal imposition of Christian prayer on the room; nor will they allow anyone else to pray during the meeting; nor will they define their policy of promoting one religion above others; but they WILL face litigation in order to maintain their Christian prayer privileges.

At a recent meeting, this board's attorney smartly advised you to go to an inclusive moment of silence or risk being sued.  You chose to keep ignoring non-Christian invocation requests and push prayer you approve of.  In doing so, you show no respect for the Constitution's establishment clause.  But I PRAY you'll respect a higher authority.  Jesus Christ did not mince words on this subject.  Matthew chapter 6 verses 5-6 quotes him thusly:

"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.  But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

That's our board - pious, public, and proud to show it.

And now, for the 6th month in a row, I'm back asking for the SAME SIMPLE THING - a WRITTEN invocation policy.  Americans United even wrote one for you.  But you prefer to no accountability, instead of outlining your policy clearly.  And why not?  Your system, undefined as it is, virtually ASSURES only Judeo-Christian prayer alone.  This, even while the rest of school system has clear policies advocating religious neutrality.

From the student handbook: "No person and no employee or agent of the District shall coerce, advocate, or encourage in any way whatsoever prayer or any other religious activity"

From your employment policy: "The School Board does not unlawfully discriminate against any person on the basis of... religious creed"

And now, apparently your public forum policy forbids prayer - according to the MEMBER from District 2 anyway; he says our comments may only address "matters of relevance to public education".  Since wisdom, prayer and guidance are not relevant to education, we'll be called out of order for such transgressions.  That's quite hypocritical, considering the board invites a Christians to pray and that is not only relevant - they think its protected by Constitution.

This leads me to only one conclusion: in this venue alone, and for the board alone, religious expression is A-OK.  But all other invocations and prayers are forbidden.

That is SO illegal!  Yes, the Supreme Court allowed legislative prayer by the town council in Greece, New York - but only because (quote) "a minister or layperson of ANY persuasion, including an atheist, could give the invocation" AND "So long as the town maintains a policy of nondiscrimination..."

We know this board discriminates.  According to your attorney, multiple invocation offers received last year were rejected due to "BAD FAITH" and disruptive.  That's a nice choice of words, Madame Counselor.  Just because you don't trust our audience to hear prayers they don't agree with, you forbid us.  In fact, I believe our messages would bring unique, positive wisdom to this board.  Maybe you'd even learn to fear minority religions a little less.

So, why do you discriminate so blatantly?  The MEMBER from District 1 explained it well last week.  Quote: "I believe that it's a privilege, that we're entitled to, to bring someone that represents OUR views to come bring the invocation"  That's right.  It's his Christian privilege to choose who prays for him and who doesn't... and our kind just isn't welcome.

Your attorney stupidly supported this, saying "when an atheist or Wiccan or Muslim or whatever is on the school board, THEN it would be appropriate to include them in the rotation."  Never mind that the Supreme Court says a person of ANY persuasion may give an invocation.  That's not for us.  

Your attorney also said that prayers are not intended for the audience.  Then, why do you ask us to stand?  Why not pray on your own time?  I hope it's not to show that you're good Christians.  Because a good Christian would probably obey Jesus.  Again, see Matthew 6 verse 5 and beyond.

Folks... we all know where this is going.  I WILL keep pushing until this wrong is made right.  And it's NOT just me.  We minorities are many and we WILL demand equal opportunity.  If reason and words fail to convince you, we WILL act - legally, but in ways you that, unfortunately, distract from the important work you should be doing.

But you CAN bring this to a dignified end - by moving an inclusive moment of silence, where we may all pray (or not) as we like.  OR you can invite litigation, where an inclusive solution WILL be forced on you.

That lawsuit will not come from me, but from concerned parents who object to elected officials practicing religious discrimination and making a mockery of the establishment clause.  In fact, we're collecting names at this very meeting.

That process will waste funds that should go to support our students, but were spent defending your self-righteous choices.  Wouldn't you rather put this behind you and concentrate on your job?  That's what you were elected to do.  And nothing else.

Thank you.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Escambia County (lesser) Boards Lead Public in Prayer Too

Word got back to me that several sub-committees and boards of Escambia County (not just the BOCC, who is legally entitled, with some restriction) start off their meetings with prayer.  They are:

- The FL-AL Transportation Planning Organization (meeting in the BOCC Chambers).  This is not an people-elected body, but one of volunteers and employees.  The Chair (Charles Bare of the City Council) leads a prayer.

- The Escambia Planning Board.  Their prayers are led by Alvin Wingate.  I have reached him by phone and asked him to stop.  I followed up by email, so he could refer it to their attorney.

- The Merit Protection Board.  No action yet.  I'll have to learn more about them.

There may be others.  I'm trying to identify them.

Essentially, only one board is protected by SCOTUS to offer invocation prayers - the elected, legislative body of that municipality.  Others are breaking the establishment clause of the Constitution.   These prayers have no place at a public meeting and they have nothing to do with the business at hand.  They should stop.

Jeff Bergosh Latest Self-Lauding Blog Entry

I only publish Bergosh's blog post because he tends to delete them after he talks to the ECSB attorney.  He won't publish any comments or corrections either.  Typical.  Here's the latest "vitriolic garbage".

Pre-Meeting Prayer: Is This the Next Domino to Fall?

This afternoon's meeting of the Escambia County School Board became an excruciating exercise in restraint.

Listening first to a dissertation from our attorney about the ins and outs of pre-meeting prayer and the pros and cons, and the potential legal pitfalls, the ups and downs, the how we can do it but maybe we shouldn't--left my head spinning like a centrifuge and the issue about as clear as mud.

At the end of it I think her opinion is/was that we can continue to do our pre-meeting invocations but that to guarantee no litigation a moment of silence should be adopted as our policy.

I'll only go along with that if I'm forced to, or if the majority of the board votes to adopt this as a policy.

It came as a refreshing surprise that three board members stated they preferred to continue the long established practice of having each board member, on a rotational basis, bring a guest to deliver a pre-meeting prayer monthly.

For a moment I thought the pendulum had swung all the way, the last domino had fallen, and the board was going to completely capitulate on this issue.

All around the country-everywhere I look-people seem to just bow down and genuflect to the loudest voices in the room with ridiculous demands that are counter to the majority of the people's values.

Doesn't look like that is happening here yet, thankfully.

VIDEO; ECSB Will Keep Discriminating, Bans Other Prayers


One of the most interesting points comes early, when Mr Boone says that prayer has nothing to do with the school system, so it should not be allowed.  YES!!!

Here are some other quotes I found interesting.  MY RESPONSE IN CAPS:

Boone: "those antics need not even happen... will allow comment on "any matter of relevance to public education"  IS THE PRAYER RELATED TO PUBLIC EDUCATION?  NO.  THEN WHY HAVE IT?

5:08  Bergosh "...people have reached out to me to give an invocation... I believe that it's a privilege that we're entitled to.. to bring someone that represents our views to come bring the invocation"  THERE IT IS.  HE WILL ONLY BRING VIEWS THAT MATCH HIS RELIGION, OR SOMETHING CLOSE THERETO

8:45  Waters - "I believe you have a right to have an invocation at the meetings of the SB; the Galloway decision does not tell us a whole lot about how that looks when we put it into practice"   COMPLETELY FALSE.  GALLOWAY SAYS THAT "ANYONE", EVEN AN ATHEIST, SHOULD BE ABLE TO DELIVER AN INVOCATION.  IT ALSO GIVES GUIDELINES FOR CONTENT.
10:30  "As your attorney... strictly from risk mgt viewpoint... you need to go to a moment of silence because that would not incur any chance of spending money on litigation.  As your legal advisor, I have to tell you, that's my professional opinion"  BRAVA, MADAME COUNSELOR!
11:15  "If a person praying from a Christian viewpoint that doesn't parellel mine, I'd rather hear a moment of silence"  BRAVA!  EMPATHY!!  IF ONLY THE BOARD HAD SOME RESPECT AND FEELING FOR RELIGIOUS MINORITIES OTHERS, THIS COULD ALL BE AVOIDED

12:55  Moultrie  "I am willing to continue until someone says we have to do a MOS"   IN OTHER WORDS, UNTIL WE GET SUED, I WANT TO KEEP DISCRIMINATING

13:40   Hightower: "I think he continues to come because one of our board members has given him fodder to take up to court; there was a response that could get us in trouble"  IT STARTED BECAUSE OF THAT ONE QUESTION: "Are you Christian?"  AND NOW HE (BERGOSH) denies it.  JUST MORE LIES TO COVER YOUR GODZILLA-SIZED MISTAKE.
14:15   "Melody does a wonderful job - he is never in the videos"   YOU CAN'T HEAR ME ON THE VIDEO EITHER.  MELODY SHOULD BE DOCUMENTING THJIS INSTEAD OF AVOIDING IT.
18:00  "We had a number of students in the room last month.  We ask for a MOS at our schools, so we are not offending anyone"   EXACTLY!  THAT'S THE WAY TO GO.  I HAVE NEW RESPECT FOR MRS HIGHTOWER.

21:20  Waters:  "It is not for the audience; it is to focus the minds of the board members - to bring attention to the fact that you're following a higher purpose"  SO, THAT'S WHY YOU PRAY - TO BRING ATTENTION TO YOUR GODLINESS!  YOU CAN PRAY BEFORE THE MEETING, JUST AS EFFECTIVELY AND WITHOUT INDUCING THE AUDIENCE TO JOIN
"...Therefore, given that language in the Galloway decision, there is some authority for the fact that if none of the board members are of that persuasion, do they really have to invite it?  That when an atheist or wiccan or muslim or whatever is on the school board, then it would be appropriate to include that in the rotation"  -THIS SPECIFICALLY CONTRADICTS GALLOWAY, WHICH SAYS THAT ANYONE CAN OFFER A PRAYER
22:15 "you are a legislative body, but I will tell you there is no clear case law on that, as the individual has noted, there are a couple of federal courts that have looked at it and concluded that school boards were NOT legislative bodies."... (did not levy taxes, make a statute when you pass a rule)  THIS BOARD IS WILLING TO GAMBLE AGAINST TWO FEDERAL COURTS IN ORDER TO RETAIN ITS CHRISTIAN PRIVILEGE.
"you are a legislative body, you have the right to pray, that prayer is intended for your benefit, not the benefit of anyone in the audience; and further that the Galloway decision does not require that when someone makes a BAD FAITH request, with the stated intention of being disruptive that you have to honor that."  ALL OFFERS WERE GENUINE.  MINE WAS AND MY PRAYER WOULD BE APPROPRIATE.  HOW DARE ANYONE SAY I DID NOT ACT IN GOOD FAITH.  YOU HAVE NO BASIS FOR THAT ASSERTION.

27:55  Hightower "If he moves to start an invocation, I will cut him off at that point"  AN INVOCATION OFFERS GOOD WISHES, WISDOM AND GUIDANCE.  THAT'S WHAT THE SATANIC TEMPLE'S PRAYER DID.  WHY IS THAT OUT OF LINE?

28:45  Slayton  "I am concerned about the students that we have in the audience... the influence and the notorierty"  I do not want to do anything that wouild cause litigation... that would give him the promotional right to do it, that we have to let this happen"   YOU HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THE STUDENTS HEARING PRAYERS OF YOUR ILK.  HE HAS ADMITTED THAT STUDENTS ATTEND AND ARE INFLUENCED.  BUT HE IS NOT CONCERNED ABOUT HIS RELIGIOUS INFLUENCE VIA THE SCHOOL BOARD.  THAT'S WHY SCHOOL BOARDS SHOULDN'T HAVE PRAYER - OF ANY KIND.
30:15  "The people that are on this board, if they need to, we pray; we pray to ourselves"   PERFECT!  WHY INVOLVE THE AUDIENCE AT ALL, EXCEPT TO ENDORSE CHRISTIANITY?

Friday, February 6, 2015

BOCC's Grover Robinson Thinks The "Right to Refuse" Invocations at Esc Cty is OK

I like Grover, but he doesn't want the privilege of religious discrimination at the BOCC to change.  I'm sure he's tried to include minorities.  In fact, he said he invited a Jew about 3 years ago (and only Christians since).

His biggest falsehood:  "We have a system that provides diversity and tolerance"    Bullshit!  It does the exact opposite.  Still, what is the objection to changing the system in light of Galloway?  Is this issue just too hot to handle?  Well, then they shouldn't be leading the public in prayer at government meetings.  Here is the latest email exchange, from most recent to oldest:


I'm sorry, but your system does not allow equal opportunity for all religions. In fact, it discourages equality, since some commissioners refuse non-Christian minorities outright. This was evident when I was invited IMMEDIATELY on my first invocation... when it was assumed I was Christian. Once it was clear I am not, I had to lobby for months and months before I could even get a response. Luckily, Mr May (reluctantly, finally) allowed me - maybe because he is a minority himself... or just understands the 1st Amendment establishment clause. One Humanist was allowed (by an outgoing commissioner) because he was a Navy man. The other requests are still being ignored. 

What's more, repeats have been VERY common, even while others are waiting. There is no coordination or tracking at all. You yourself repeated a speaker after he spoke at the previous two meetings. You haven't had a non-Christian in at least two years, maybe more. Meantime, minorities still get no answer. This is to say nothing of the content of some prayers, for which the speakers are offered no guidelines and which often strays into evangelism. This is all addressed in the model policy I emailed. Please watch (who was invited back later) and ... and you don't need content guidelines? 

Things changed in May 2014 (when SCOTUS ruled). Won't you consider adjusting your system to meet the dictates of the Galloway decision? Or is the question just too controversial for discussion? It seems to be. I think what AU has offered is a reasonable system that removes all favoritism, patronage, and potential for discrimination. Surely that's worth considering. If nothing else, our county needs to be able to deflect these (actually true) allegations of institutional religious establishment and discrimination. If you don't believe me, I can provide a list of repeats, speakers and inappropriate messages that paint an ugly picture.

When a fair system is implemented - one that does not allow repeats, rejections or personal discretion to influence the picking - I will respect it. Until then, I will continue to use the Public Forum to bring awareness to the inequity and to deliver minority prayers (from MANY unrepresented faiths). Our citizens need to know the legal peril and discriminatory nature of the BOCC invocation "policy" (which I am still waiting to see). 


Finally, now you know how it feels to sit through a prayer not of your faith. Why would you want to make our religious minorities sit through government-led prayers we find just as offensive and out-of-place? Is that your job? I can't tell you how many people have stopped me or written me thankfully, saying this tradition feels like an intrusion of church on state matters. Some of these folks feel our government does not respect them. They don't want to return to meetings. I think a moment of silence serves ALL our citizens inclusively. That's a worthy goal, but seems unlikely here. Short of welcoming and including all via a MOS, the BOCC could AT LEAST take steps to remove any appearance or system allowing religious favor.

Please. Let's give a new, fair system a chance. Doesn't it deserve a discussion? Or do you prefer more minority prayers at public forum, more protests and scrutiny, and potential legal entanglements? Your choice. 

My best, 


From: "Grover C. Robinson" []
Date: 02/06/2015 07:37 AM
To: "wordsnmusic" <>;
CC: "Alison A. Perdue" <>;
Subject: Re: Invocation policy?

As always I appreciate you comments. However we do have a policy and we do create diversity that is representative of the population. You offering the pray every week is not a very fair an open way. Neither is a first come first serve list.

We have had yourself as well as a humanist and agnostic within the last year. You don't like certain prayers just as other citizens don't like yours. However if we are to have a proper functioning community that truly complies with the intent of the Constitution we need a community that respect the religious choices of its diverse citizens.

We have a system that provides diversity and tolerance. Just because it is not your system does not make it bad.

Thank you for comments but we really need your religious tolerance and respect.


Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 5, 2015, at 4:37 PM, "wordsnmusic" <>; wrote:

> Commissioner Robinson,
> Thank you for your comments at tonight's meeting, though I wish I could have corrected them in real time.
> If this issue was brought up at another meeting, I am not aware. Can you tell me when that happened so I can look it up? Likewise, if the BOCC now has a written invocation policy now, I am not aware. Would you please forward it to me and to the attorneys at FFRF and AU?
> While I appreciate that YOU may reach out to different denominations, all commissioners are not as egalitarian. Some have NEVER had a non-Christian speaker. Mr Robertson has explicitly refused non-Christian speakers. To my knowledge, only Mr May has accepted a request from a minority. I also know of at least three others (non-theists, laypersons) who requested to give invocations - asking all five commissioners - but have not been accepted, despite being legally eligible. Most commissioners just ignored these requests. Some of those same commissioners allowed repeats of their favored speakers.
> In short, as long as each commissioner chooses who may speak (for him) and who may not, a minority will have a less-than-equal opportunity. That's why this should not be left to discretion and why an impartial, fair system is needed. There are myriad other legal issues too - including when the prayer is given, coercing the audience to participate, and illegal prayer content - all unaddressed. The model policy I sent addresses them all.
> This is not about me speaking again - though I will when (AND IF) my turn comes up. This is about a fair, IMPARTIAL system that does not allow personal religious discrimination and which comports with the dictates of the Galloway decision. More importantly, it's about welcoming everyone and maintaining a separation of church and state.
> I welcome your response by phone, email or in person. I hope we can put this issue to rest with a fair, legal written policy. If not, I'll be there at public forum with more comments, pleas, and minority prayers. As a pantheist, I have MANY to offer.
> Best Regards,
> David Suhor

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