FFRF is appalled at a Kansas county commissioner’s censure of nonbelievers.
FFRF recently wrote to the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners after a Sedgwick County resident was denied an opportunity to deliver a secular invocation before the board because his request was “not made on behalf of a religious group.” FFRF requested that the commission either end its practice of hosting prayers at meetings, or alter its invocation policy to ensure that it does not discriminate against atheists and freethinkers.
In response, County Commissioner Dave Unruh stated, “If you don’t believe [in God], it’s fine with me. I don’t care. Go to hell. It’s fine.”
Unruh’s comment was made at a Board of County Commissioners meeting on March 13, during a conversation with County Manager Mike Schole regarding FFRF’s letter:
Unruh: “Are we gonna get sued by those people who want us to not believe in God?”
Schole: “We have an executive session to talk about that tomorrow.”
Unruh: “Alright, I just keep wondering why are you so exercised about trying to prove to me something doesn’t exist? I mean it’s logically stupid. If you don’t believe it, it’s fine with me. I don’t care. Go to hell. It’s fine.” [laughs]
Schole: “I’m willing for my name to go to the Supreme Court.”
“Prayer at government meetings is unnecessary, inappropriate and divisive,” FFRF Patrick O’Reiley Legal Fellow Chris Line had written to the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners. “However, if the Board insists on continuing to host prayers at public meetings, it must not discriminate against any person.”
Furthermore, a Sedgwick County code restricts those who can give an invocation to only religious leaders and clergy members, which is unconstitutional because it treats similarly situated persons differently. FFRF emphasizes that this provision of the Sedgwick County code cannot be enforced because treating an atheist or nonbeliever who wishes to give an invocation differently from a religious citizen constitutes discrimination.