PALM BEACH, Fla. — A professing Florida atheist who recently led an invocation to Mother Earth, Satan and other entities at a public meeting in Lake Worth has been denied his request to do the same at a commission meeting in Palm Beach County.
As previously reported, as Preston Smith of Miami stepped to the podium to deliver the invocation on Dec. 2, a number of commissioners–as well as Mayor Pam Triolo—exited the room so they would not be participants in what was about to take place.
“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,” he said. “May we pray together.”
“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,” Smith began his invocation. “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,” he continued. “We praise you, Krishna, for the sanguine sacrifice that freed us all. After all, if Almighty Thor is with us, who can ever be against us?”
Smith then scorned the concept of Heaven and Hell and urged adherence to humanistic attempts to define right from wrong.
“And finally, for the bounty of logic, reason, and science, we simply thank the atheists, agnostics, Humanists, who now account for one in five Americans, and [are] growing rapidly,” he stated. “In closing, let us, above all, love one another, not to obtain mythical rewards for ourselves now, hereafter, or based on superstitious threats of eternal damnation, but rather, embrace secular-based principles of morality —and do good for goodness’ sake.”
“And so we pray,” Smith concluded. “So what?”
In a recent interview with the Christian Post, Smith stated that he has sought to do the same in Palm Beach County, but was rejected.
“[M]y next invocation was aimed at the Palm Beach County Commissioners meeting. However, they have denied my request, opting instead to strictly allow the Commissioners themselves to give [overtly Christian-themed] invocations,” he said. “I consider this a monopoly of a certain religious viewpoint, the very opposite of the Supreme Court’s intention.”
It is not known if Smith will continue attempting to deliver invocations at meetings across the state. However, he told local television station WPTV that his goal is to stop prayer before public government meetings altogether.
Atheist and blogger Chaz Stevens, known for erecting a Festivus Pole made of beer cans at the Florida Capitol Rotunda, has a similar goal. He submitted a request to deliver a Satanist prayer in Lake Worth.
“We want to make a circus out of it,” Stevens told the outlet. “We want to make a fiasco out of it. We want to make it so … utterly ridiculous that they rethink this.”
It is not yet known whether Stevens has been denied or approved.