VIERA, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - The Brevard County Commission is holding its first meeting since a federal court ruled that its invocation policy is unconstitutional.
Brevard County commissioners conducted business as usual, but there is a chance the way they start meetings could change, based on the big blow they received from an appeals court Monday about religious invocations.
"We think that the Brevard County Commission has spent far too much of the taxpayers' money fighting for religious bigotry. That needs to stop," said David Williamson, executive director for the Central Florida Freethought Community, a chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
At the Brevard County Commission meetings, silence continues to speak louder than words. The commissioners started doing moments of silence after the Freedom From Religion Foundation sued them for not being allowed to deliver invocations at their meetings.
"It's not that we're trying not to allow groups to speak. It's just that we call it an invocation. When you invoke something, you're invoking usually a higher power," said Brevard County communications director Don Walker.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation represents those who don't believe in a god or a higher power, but they have given invocations at other meetings, including the Orange County Commission meeting just last week.
After years of litigation, an appeals judge ruled Monday that Brevard County's procedure for selecting invocation speakers was "discriminatory" and "unconstitutional," writing "the Commissioners may not categorically exclude from consideration speakers from a religion simply because they do not like the nature of its beliefs."
"We're thrilled that a second court has affirmed the fact that this commission was discriminating unconstitutionally," said Williamson.
The county has 21 days to appeal.
"We're going to weigh our options," Walker told FOX 35.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation says the only option is to stop the fight and allow everyone to take part in the invocation.
"If they bring back the invocations, would you guys be willing to go in there and do one?" a FOX 35 reporter asked Williamson. "We would expect nothing less," he said.
For now the commissioner will continue to start meetings with a moment of silence. But the commissioners are different from the ones in place when all this started, so that could change.