Today the Humanists of Florida Association (HFA) released a letter they sent to the Mayor of Holly Hill Florida asking him to stop his practice of praying during city commission meetings and to remove a link to the Holly Hill YMCA, which is a Christian association, from it’s website.
According to Ellenbeth Wachs, President of the Humanists of Florida Association, she had received a letter from a Holly Hill resident, who is a Christian, but who feels very uncomfortable with the level of religiosity displayed by the new mayor of Holly Hill. The resident, who wishes to remain anonymous said the mayor’s prayer “is rather lengthy, and even though I am a Christian, I strongly believe in separation of church and state.”
The Humanists of Florida Association represents over 2,500 Humanists across the state and is a non-profit educational association that promotes freedom and democracy by using reason and science to create a more compassionate society.
In her letter to Mayor Roy Johnson Ms. Wachs reminds the mayor that, “Demanding that citizens in attendance pray is coercive, entirely inappropriate and hardly the role of city government officials.” She added, “It is your constitutional obligation to remain neutral in matters of religion.”
According to commission meeting minutes, Mayor Johnson has delivered almost all of the invocations since he became mayor in November of last year. At the meetings where the mayor doesn’t deliver the invocation, Rev. Wiley Lowe, who is the youth minister from the Holly Hill Church of Christ, delivers it. No minister other then Lowe has delivered an invocation to the city commission since Mayor Johnson took office. The only exception to these two men delivering the invocation was on Aug 9, 2011 when commissioner Penny led the invocation.
The link to the YMCA of Holly Hill is apparently a concern to the Humanists of Florida Association because the link occurs in the “Government” section of the website. It is not clear what role or relationship the YMCA has with the city of Holly Hill. It is not listed as part of parks and recreation department and no mention is given as to why they are listed as part of the governmental structure of the city as opposed to just one of the many resources presumably available to residents of Holly Hill. The links go directly to the YMCA website which does not mention any programs it conducts on behalf of the city that would warrant it’s inclusion as a resource provided by the city of Holly Hill. Additionally, it is the only non-governmental organization linked to in the entirety of the Holly Hill website. There are no other private organizations, churches or recreational groups mentioned or linked to.
The concern the Humanists of Florida Assocation states they have is that by linking to the YMCA and only the YMCA, whose mission is “to put Christian principles into practice,” the City of Holly Hill “is advancing the Christian religion” inappropriately by providing the YMCA with a special relationship with the city that no other organization or group appears to enjoys.
- For more information visit: http://www.floridahumanist.org/
- To visit the Holly Hill website visit: http://www.hollyhillfl.org/