WINTER GARDEN, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - The Winter Garden City Commission this week changed a policy on how prayers are conducted at city meeting, in response to complaints.
Before the policy change, any non-profit organization was allowed to do an invocation at the beginning of the meeting. Now, only commissioners will lead the invocations.
"They'll each take a turn, and on their turn, they'll have a choice of doing a prayer or invocation," says City Manager Mike Bollhoefer. "Not necessarily a prayer. [It could be] a moment of silence or they can give their turn to another commissioner."
Joseph Richardson, of Central Florida's Free Thought Community, says he attends just about every commission meeting. He says the prayers themselves are not the problem.
"Our group is mostly non-believers, so we wouldn't have prayers -- all of our invocations are non-secular," he says. "It's the fact that they're not including all their residents in the process."
Richardson says the policy change was extremely disappointing.
"We had been hoping they'd be more inclusive, but based on the decision last night, they're just going to be more exclusive."
We asked Richardson if he would be accepting of a moment of silence.
"Absolutely," he says. "That's one of the things that we asked for."
Richardson isn't sure what he'll do next.
"It's been primarily himself that has done the opposition. This new policy definitely meets the criteria of the Supreme Court," Bollhoefer adds.