By James Coffin
Commissioners on the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners were no doubt stunned when, on July 8, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit unanimously declared (Williamson v. Brevard County) that the commissioners’ practice of automatically denying atheists the opportunity to offer solemnizing invocations/reflections at the board’s meetings was “discriminatory,” “unconstitutional” and “must be rejected.”
Judging from the commissioners’ earlier depositions, they probably view the court’s decision as an assault on Christianity. How could judges say it’s “discriminatory” and “unconstitutional” to not allow atheists to provide invocations at government meetings?
For many Christians, however, the court’s decision is seen as moving one step closer to fully realizing the religious egalitarian ideal envisioned by our nation’s founders.
Tony Perkins, a conservative Christian and the newly elected chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, declared in an article posted recently by the Religion News Service that “a Christian worldview requires [Christians] to care about religious freedom — including the religious freedom of others.” And Christians must do so, he argued, “even when those beliefs are very different from our own.”
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