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ACLU opposes proposal to reinstate opening prayer at Miami-Dade commission meetings

The ACLU of Florida on Wednesday formally opposed a proposal to reinstate opening prayers at Miami-Dade Commission meetings.

The proposal, by Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, is scheduled for a final vote Tuesday.

In a letter to commissioners, ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon and John de Leon, president of the organization’s Greater Miami chapter, urged commissioners to keep their opening moment of silence, warning that prayer could be “divisive” and lead to a possible lawsuit.

“Inevitably, as the Commission has experienced in the past, some religious leader will offer an invocation that may genuinely be intended not to ‘advance any particular faith,’ but which will not be so interpreted by members of the community who are in attendance and who may be made to feel uncomfortable, marginalized and like second-class citizens of our community because their religious views differ from those offered by the Commission-invited religious leader,” the letter says.

Diaz’s proposal would require the county to create a database of local religious leaders who would be limited to the number of invocations they could deliver at the county each year. Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s administration estimates that setting up the database would cost $22,000, with about $4,000 in annual maintenance costs.

More background on the prayer proposal here and here.


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Good for them.

Dr. Judy Meissner

Is Anyone at the ACLU Keeping Tabs on Howard Simon?

Mr. Howard Simon ramblings against the overwhelmingly approved Miami-Dade County Invocation Restoration Ordinance are absolutely absurd. He is recklessly leading the Florida ACLU down the wrong path. Mr. Simon is using the group's clout to fight civil rights, rather than defend them, to push for discrimination, rather than oppose it, to divide the community, rather than unite it.

Mr. Simon has completely lost it. His Chicken Little reaction to what essentially is a speech equality issue is symptomatic of an individual totally disconnected from the group he represents.

The American people have started public meetings with invocations and prayer since our nation’s founding and the sky has never fallen. So what’s all the silly hysteria about? Could it be bigotry, intolerance, and Christianophobia?

Those in charge of ACLU Florida would do well to retire Mr. Simon before he inflicts more damage to the group’s good name and financial resources, like needlessly wasting donors’ money on laughable, frivolous lawsuits that, frankly, don’t have a prayer.

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