Atheists in central Florida have sued the city of Lakeland over its practice of opening city commission meetings with prayers.
Atheists of Florida filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Tampa.
A federal appeals court has ruled that Lakeland’s invitations to local clergy to offer prayers is constitutional, but the judges also stipulated that governments must make a reasonable effort to include all religious faiths.
The director of the atheist group’s Lakeland chapter said Lakeland hasn’t made that effort. The lawsuit claims the group was made to feel uncomfortable because they did not stand during the prayers or say “under God” while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
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Mayor Gow Fields said he had expected the lawsuit. He declined further comment.