Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

On National Day of Prayer, atheists renew call to end invocations at Tampa city meetings

TAMPA — Atheists came out in full force to the Tampa City Council meeting for National Prayer Day Thursday to repeat their pleas to end prayer at government meetings.

Atheists have been pressuring the council to stop its invocations for months. On Thursday, more than a dozen turned out wearing blue shirts adorned with heavenly clouds and the words: "Don't believe in God? You're not alone."

Their opportunities to speak during the morning's 30-minute public comment portion of the meeting were limited, though. The council gives preference to people addressing items on the agenda scheduled for discussion.

That didn't stop Rob Curry, executive director of Atheists of Florida.

He stepped up to the podium and said he wanted to talk about a proposed ordinance regulating digital billboards, set for debate later in the day. The atheists, he said, might be interested in using these billboards to share their message.

"If you want to pray, pray in your church. If you have to pray, pray in your closet like Jesus tells you to," Curry said. "Jesus says don't be one of these pious politicians who goes and prays to make a spectacle of himself."

Council chairman Tom Scott interrupted Curry, telling him to stay on the billboard topic.

"It is connected because these signs give us the opportunity to advertise," Curry said. "We value freedom of speech."

He pointed out that besides Thursday being National Day of Prayer, it is also National Day of Reason.

The meeting grew tense for a moment when Atheists of Florida president John Kieffer followed Curry at the podium.

Even before he started talking, Scott told Kieffer he needed to address agenda topics.

When Kieffer started questioning Scott, a police officer stepped to Kieffer's side. Kieffer stepped down.

Scott said he just wanted to stick to council rules.

"We are not trying to silence anyone who wants to speak," he said. The atheists could return, he said, when the council finishes the day's business.

The remarks during the council meeting came at the same time a National Prayer Day event was under way in a park across the street from City Hall.

Orthodox Rabbi Mendy Dubrowski, who delivered Thursday's City Council invocation, encouraged everyone in the room to honor the National Day of Prayer and pray for a rabbinical student who died in Tampa Sunday after a water scooter accident.

Dubrowski began his invocation, "God in heaven, master of the world," and told council members they hold "God-given" jobs to assure a "peaceful and moral society."

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

On National Day of Prayer, atheists renew call to end invocations at Tampa city meetings 05/06/10 [Last modified: Thursday, May 6, 2010 1:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Romano: On this education bill, you decide who is evil

    Politics

    The political ramifications are not lost on Kristine Benson.

    Six-year-old Chase Benson was born with down syndrome and autism. He attends a private school in Palm Harbor through a Gardiner Scholarship. [Photo courtesy of Kris Benson]
  2. St. Petersburg police team with federal agencies to crack down on gun and drug offenders (w/video)

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police say Raymond Adams, 29, jumped a fence to break into a home in the 800 block of 51st Street Avenue S.

    Some of the guns confiscated during an eight month firearms, drug trafficking, and violent crime operation dubbed the St. Petersburg Violent Crime Reduction Initiative were on display Wednesday, 5/24/17 at the St. Petersburg Police Department.  Federal charges have been filed against 35 individuals and state charges have been filled against 9 individuals in St. Petersburg. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times

  3. Graco recalls car seats; webbing may not hold child in crash

    Public Safety

    Graco Children's Products is recalling more than 25,000 car seats because the harness webbing can break in a crash and may not keep children restrained.

    Graco has recalled eight different car seat models.
  4. Pro Bowl returning to Orlando in 2018

    Bucs

    ORLANDO — The Pro Bowl will return to Orlando in 2018 for the second straight year.

    Bucs  wide receiver Mike Evans runs a route as Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. defends during the first quarter of the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl in January at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. Plan your weekend: Memorial Day, Sunset Music Fest, comic Pablo Francisco, sci-fi writer Jeff VanderMeer

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    Holiday

    Memorial Day: Monday is the day to honor those who died serving their country, and the Bay Pines VA Memorial Day Ceremony will have Fox 13 anchor Alcides Segui as emcee, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and musical performances starting at 10 a.m. at 10000 Bay Pines Blvd., St. …

    GULF SHORES, AL - MAY 20:  Diplo of Major Lazer performs at the Surf Stage during 2017 Hangout Music Festival on May 20, 2017 in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Hangout Music Festival) 700050769