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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Atheists say DCF head Wilkins abused office by emailing prayer to employees

An atheists group contends Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins "abused his office" by emailing the text of a prayer to agency employees.

The group wants Gov. Rick Scott to tell Wilkins he can't use state resources for "projecting his religious views." A concerned employee contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation, wrote foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor to Scott on May 3.

"The Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits government sponsorship of religious messages," she wrote. "By sending a prayer message to employees, Secretary Wilkins abridged his duty to remain neutral."

The email contained the text of a prayer Wilkins gave at a National Day of Prayer event at the Capitol this week. The email is below.

"This memo is a continuation of the ongoing dialogue the Secretary has with employees to share details about public appearances and agency activities," said DCF spokeswoman Joe Follick. "Neither this message or any of the Secretary’s daily actions on behalf of the agency’s 13,000 employees and providers ever carry any attempt to impact every American’s right to believe and follow their faith of choice. We are proud to have the nation’s best social services team working to improve this state and are proud that among our employees are men and women of all faiths."

The agency distributed Wilkins' prayer as a press release last year.

We will update with a response from Scott's office if we get one. The letter is attached.

DCF Colleagues:

Today, May 3, is the National Day of Prayer. This morning, I was blessed to
be able to speak at the National Day of Prayer observance at the Florida
Capitol, where I prayed for all of Florida's children and families.

The following is a copy of that prayer.

   Dear Lord,

   We thank You for this beautiful Lord's day! It is a celebration to be
   able to come together to pray to you, Our Sovereign God, for the
   children and families in our great state of Florida.
   We come to you today with complete reverence for all that You are, Lord,
   and we thank You that You are sovereign over all of Your creation.

   Lord, We pray that You will pour out Your Spirit upon the children and
   families in this state. We pray that You will deliver them from any evil
   that would rob them of their lives, that would steal away their
   uniqueness and giftedness or compromise the path that you've called them
   to walk, or to destroy the person that You created them to be. May they
   not be a follower of anyone but You, Lord, but may they be a leader of
   people into Your kingdom.

   Help them to grow into a complete understanding of their authority in
   You, Lord, while retaining a submissive and humble spirit. We pray that
   the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
   goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control grow in them daily.
   We pray that they find their identity in You and view themselves as Your
   instrument, and that they will know that they are fully complete in You,
   and You alone.

   In Jeremiah, You tell us that You know the plans You have for us...
   plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a
   future. We pray that our young people will see themselves as You do--
   from their future and NOT from their past. Help them be convinced that
   Your thoughts toward them are thoughts of peace and not of evil, and
   that You will give them a future and a hope. Teach them to look to You
   as their hope FOR the future. Help them to understand that it is You who
   has saved us and has called us with a holy calling, not according to our
   works, but according to Your purpose. We pray that their commitment to
   being who You created them to be, enable them to grow daily in
   confidence and boldness.

   You created each one of your precious children uniquely different....
   each perfect with the talents and abilities to do Your will here on
   Earth. We pray that You will develop those talents and abilities, so
   that they can be used for Your glory. We pray as they recognize that
   they are uniquely different from anyone else that You have created, that
   no feelings of inadequacy, fear, or uncertainty will keep them from
   following You and being willing to be used for Your purposes. May they
   hear the call You have on their lives so that they do not spend their
   lives living in a state of confusion, trying to figure out what it is
   that You would have them do with their lives.

   Let their talent never be wasted, watered down by mediocrity, or used to
   glorify anything or anyone other than You, Lord. We pray that You will
   reveal to them what their life work is to be and help them excel in it.
   Bless the work of their hands, and help them see that they can be used
   to help others.

   In Proverbs, You tell us that, “A man's gift makes room for him, and
   brings him before great men.” We pray that whatever our precious
   children do, that it will find favor with You and with others and it
   will be well received and well respected. We pray that the gifts and
   talents that You have placed in them be released to find their fullest
   expression in glorifying You.

   We know that You are the One that oversees all that we do and we thank
   You that You are with us in serving the children and families and ask
   for a special blessing for the most vulnerable.
   We ask You to lead us, to guide us, and to direct our paths as we do
   Your will and we will give You all of the glory and praise!

   Forgive us of our sins, Lord.

   In Your name, Amen

[Last modified: Friday, May 4, 2012 1:25pm]

    

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