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

Monday, March 9, 2015

RAW STATISTICS: Escambia County Religions v Invocations

Some local government officials have said their bodies (ECSB, City Council, ECUA, BOCC) choose prayer-givers to reflect the local demographics.  That is clearly not the case, as we are not 95-100% Christian church-goers.

Here are some 2010 statistics:

As you see, just under 1/4 of our citizens don't identify with a recognizable religious affiliation.  So why aren't there 1/4 moments of silence?  Moreover, less than 50% of Escambians attend church regularly. But they get church content at 100% of government meetings.  I cannot accept the excuse that Commissioners (like Mr Robinson) coordinate to make sure they reflect the population.  In fact, I see no coordination AT ALL when board members choose the speakers themselves.  All I see are officials repeating their favorite Christians and excluding and denying non-Christians the chance to take part.  And there is still NO WRITTEN POLICY!

Just this week, according to the 2014 General Social Survey, one in 4 citizens say they pray less than once a week.  That's probably the same "unaffiliated" group that is now the fastest growing among religious demographics.  We are second in % of population only to Christians - and larger than any single denomination.  But we don't get ANY consideration in invocations - certainly not 22%.

I urge our boards to quit lying, saying they reflect the population, consciously or otherwise.  They don't and I have the records to prove it.  Their prayers run 95-100% Christian.  Even the Supreme Court cautioned against trying to do parse the population - calling it an entanglement with religion.  If they do try this tactic, they should at least cite their statistics, put their system in writing to make sure it it followed.

The best solution is to get our government out of the business of leading prayer.  An inclusive moment of silence would achieve that beautifully.  But is anyone brave enough to suggest that, possibly losing their image of church-defenders and the political privilege they gain from inviting churches into the state's business.  From the responses I've gotten, I doubt it.

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