A Seminole County group is petitioning to return prayer to Longwood city meetings


  • Screen grab via Facebook.com/City-of-Longwood-Fl
Following a vote that cut the opening prayer at Longwood city commission meetings earlier this month, a grassroots group in Seminole County has begun to gather petitions requesting that the decision be reversed.

Seminole First, a political committee formed by GOP State Committeeman Jesse Phillips, is behind the push to reinstate prayer in the meetings.

“The First Amendment guarantees the right to public religious expression, a cherished right upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014, which ruled invocations in local government council meetings were protected speech under the First Amendment,” Phillips told the Orlando Political Observer. “We are asking the Longwood commission to reverse its ban on opening prayers and to respect our First Amendment rights.”

Phillips is referring to the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 ruling, in May 2014, that legislative bodies — specifically, city councils — can begin their meetings with prayer, even if it distinctly favors one person’s faith in the message.

“Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the court’s conservative majority.

It was the latest example of how our nation’s highest judicial body has become increasingly lenient on how government may interact with religion in the civic atmosphere.

The next Longwood city commission meeting takes place on Monday, Feb. 5, at 6 p.m.