Justin Vacula objects to prayer at Wilkes-Barre City Council meeting - June 14, 2013
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Published on Jun 14, 2013
Atheist and separation of church/state activist Justin Vacula objects to government-led prayer at a June 14, 2013 Wilkes-Barre City Council meeting during the public comment section. Vacula's speech is followed by various questions to the council, a response from council, and remarks from Mayor Thomas Leighton.
Text of speech:
"My name is Justin Vacula. I am the co-organizer and spokesperson for the NEPA Freethought Society -- a local community group of atheists, agnostics, and freethinkers with meetings in Wilkes-Barre, PA. I am also a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation -- the largest group of freethinkers in the United States. I speak on behalf of the NEPA Freethought Society.
I address city council today to object to prayer which was delivered at the June 1 work meeting and at tonight's meeting. Prayer at public government meetings is divisive, inappropriate, coercive, exclusionary, unnecessary, and an unwelcome religious imposition on meeting attendees. Government officials should not be leading or scheduling prayer at government functions.
Luzerne County and Wilkes-Barre are regions including Muslims, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, and members of other religious or non-religious identities and should not be subjected to prayer, a religious ritual, led by government officials and endorsed by government, against their will. Religion, according to the Pennsylvania state constitution, is a personal matter which should be up to individuals' consciences. Government should not takes sides on matters of religion or religious ritual.
I urge council to cease prayer at future meetings. End this divisive, inappropriate, coercive, exclusionary, unnecessary, and unwelcome religious imposition."
(Recorded by Angelica Manzietti)
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