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Request For Humanist Invocation Denied by Florida County Commissioners

American Humanist Association Legal Center Demands End to Unconstitutional Behavior

For Immediate Release


Maggie Ardiente, mardiente@americanhumanist.org, 202-238-9088 x116
Monica Miller, mmiller@americanhumanist.org 202-238-9088 x 120

(Washington, DC, Dec.11, 2013) — The Martin County Florida Board of County Commissioners has denied a request by a humanist to deliver the invocation at a regular board meeting, making the unconstitutional claim that only the Martin County Ministerial Association can grant the request stating that “the County does not organize that function.”

The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter on Dec. 9, 2013 to the board on behalf of Joe Beck, a Humanist chaplain and founder of the Humanists of the Treasure Coast, making it clear that it is not permissible to give away this responsibility. “The government can neither delegate its functions to a religious organization nor employ invocation selection procedures that  categorically exclude a specific faith, such as Humanism,” the letter states. “As such, this letter demands that Martin County permit Mr. Beck or a member of his Humanist congregation to deliver an invocation and to revise its selection procedures to comport with the Constitution.”

“One of the other constitutional problems with this practice is that it permits certain faiths such as Humanism to be categorically excluded from the selection process,” said Appignani Humanist Legal Center attorney Monica Miller. “Because of this, the invocations being offered are by clergy selected by a sectarian religious entity with the ultimate power to exclude speakers from any faith it desires.”

Martin County Attorney Michael D. Durham has told the Appignani Humanist Legal Center they will be launching an investigation.


Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.