DELTONA, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Reading from the New King James version of the Bible, newly elected Deltona City Commissioner Christopher Alcantara isn’t shy about sharing the word of God.
“Luke 8:16 knowing when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel, ” Alcantara read at the May 15th Deltona Commission meeting.
In fact, at nearly every commission meeting since he was elected, the 27-year-old commissioner has used part of his commissioner comment section to recite bible verses to the public.
“It’s something that God put in my heart to do,” Alcantara said.
But, not everyone is on board with the bible readings.
“This isn’t church, this is a government meeting,” said Rob Boston of American United for Separation of Church and State. The Washington D.C. based organization sent a letter to Alcanatra and the Deltona city attorney accusing the commissioner of proselytizing at commission meetings.
“When there’s readings from one particular religious scripture, done on a regular basis I think it’s sending a message that this particular commissioner has a certain religion -- a favorite religion, and that’s fine but he wants to push that out and press that onto the people that he’s supposed to be serving,”
“I’m not trying to convert anyone that s not my goal im not trying to force religion down anyone’s throat I’m just sharing words of wisdom that I feel that everyone should here, so i just think that their claims are false,” Alcantara said.
In response to letter, the Deltona city attorney issued a memo, saying that because the commissioner isn’t “denigrating religious practices” or “coercing participation” he’s not violating any laws.
Alcantara -- who identifies as a Christian -- says he isn’t stopping. “I’m not changing anything I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing I’m going to keep sharing words or wisdom every meeting” Alcantara said.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is calling on Alcantara to put an end to the scripture readings – they say they’d prefer to settle the dispute out of court but say they have the resources to go to court if necessary.