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Florida atheists banned from starting public meetings with prayer, county commissioners say

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atheists turned away in FloridaCommissioners from a Florida county have effectively banned nonbelievers from starting government meetings with an atheist prayer.

In a unanimous decision, the five members of the Brevard County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to continue choosing clergy from its current pool of faith representatives, which includes Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Adventists, Mormons and Muslims — but no atheists.

County Commission Chair Mary Bolin Lewis issued a letter saying that the ceremonial prayer usually asks for guidance from a “spiritual authority” — one that atheists by definition don’t believe in.

“The prayer ... typically invokes guidance for the County Commission from the highest spiritual authority, a higher authority which a substantial body of Brevard constituents believes to exist,” Lewis wrote.

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