News Columns & Blogs

Save prayers for Sundays, commission

Pray or don’t pray.

That’s a vexing issue facing the Manatee County Commission.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation from Madison, Wis., has requested our esteemed commissioners cease prayers before their weekly commission meetings.

Unnecessary, inappropriate and divisive.

That’s what a foundation attorney called the practice.

Expensive, too, he might’ve added.

If this turns into a lawsuit, that will not go over well with Manatee taxpayers.

The commissioners want to fight to pray?

Don’t do it on our dime.

The fuss is over a non-denominational prayer given by a rotation of ecumenical folks -- ministers, priests, rabbis, lay people -- before each Board of County Commissioners meeting.

County attorneys say the commission is within its constitutional rights and is covered by the precedent of earlier rulings by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Judicial Circuit.

That probably doesn’t satisfy this group.

Just like its name implies, the Freedom from Religion Foundation is reportedly the largest association of freethinkers in the United States with more than 17,000 members.

It includes agnostics, atheists and skeptics.

Among them, I suppose, are the people who complained and live here.

That such a coalition, based in Wisconsin, would stick its nose in our business is almost amusing.

Don’t they have more urgent things to get worked up about in the Cheesehead state?

Like whether the Green Bay Packers will go unbeaten and repeat as NFL champions.

They must not think Vince Lombardi was God, either.

Imagine that.


Anyway, the prayers in question are that our commissioners will have the wisdom, vision and judgment to make the best decisions for our community.


The commission doesn’t need divine guidance for that.

They’ve got Joe McClash.

Not that there aren’t some matters for which some commissioners would seek deliverance through prayer.

Like the notion of spending four more years with Donna Hayes, who recently changed her mind and decided to run for a third term.

When it comes to offering up prayers, most of us say them in church.

Or with friends.

Or in private.

If this comes to a costly court fight, Manatee County commissioners should consider doing the same.

Unless they want to pay for it themselves.

Can I get an Amen?

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at Please include a phone number for verification purposes.