Today's date is August 15, 2022

Group Seeks Petitions to Return Prayer to Longwood City Meetings


A group has been established to gather petitions to request the Longwood City Commission reverse its decision to replace prayer with a moment of silence to open its commission meetings. Seminole First, a political committee formed by GOP State Committeeman Jesse Phillips, has created a petition to request the commission reinstitute the opportunity for an invocation, citing First Amendment concerns.  Longwood Petition

“The First Amendment guarantees the right to public religious expression, a cherished right upheld by the US Supreme Court in 2014, which ruled invocations in local government council meetings were protected speech under the First Amendment,” said Jesse Phillips. “We are asking the Longwood Commission to reverse its ban on opening prayers and to respect our first amendment rights.”

The Longwood commission banned prayer at its meeting in January, replacing an invocation with a moment of silence on its standard agenda. The decision prompted Longwood residents to voice their concerns. The petitions have been circulated online, receiving more than 60 signatures ahead of Monday’scommission meeting. The resolution being circulated reads as follows:

“On Monday, January 15th, on the eve of National Religious Freedom Day, Longwood Mayor Ben Paris and the entire City Commission voted to replace prayer with a moment of silence to open commission meetings. We respectfully demand Mayor Paris and Commissioners Drummond, Morgan, Sackett and Shoemaker reverse this policy and reinstitute the opportunity for a prayer to open the meetings. Prayers need not be offered by any specific religion, or by a pastor. Prayers may be offered by a resident in attendance. Although the circumstances of any given meeting may vary, Longwood residents must be allowed to recognize the importance of faith in public service and be afforded the opportunity to express those beliefs at city council meetings. The vital role of faith in public life, and our nation’s history of recognizing and protecting the free and public expression of religion, demands the Longwood City Commission

Jesse Phillips (contact 407-492-4915) will be available for comment on the effort during the Longwood City Commission meeting at 6pm on Monday, February 5. Longwood Petition 


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Leon Aprile is a pseudonym for different freelance writers that submit articles to OPO.

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