Attorney: City council 'trampled' on Constitution by excluding Wiccan invocation

Published: Jun. 29, 2014 at 7:41 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2014 at 3:47 PM CDT
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Huntsville City Council (Source: WAFF)
Huntsville City Council (Source: WAFF)

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Huntsville City Council members revised the agenda for Thursday night's meeting to exclude an invocation by Wiccan priest Blake Kirk.

Staff Attorney for the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Andrew Seidel, said the change "trampled all over the Constitution."

According to Seidel, Huntsville City Council's actions violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, the First Amendment, and article 6, section 3 of the Constitution that states no religious tests should ever be required as qualification for office or public trust.

"The Supreme Court just handed down a case, The Town of Greens Vs. Gallaway, and there's language all throughout that case which explicitly rejects the kind of discrimination that Huntsville City Council has just engaged in," said Seidel.

Pearlie Stamper, Administrative Aid to the City Council, said she was told by council president Mark Russell to remove the invocation by Blake Kirk from the meeting agenda Thursday afternoon, but was not told why.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation sent a letter to the city council on Friday demanding Blake Kirk be allowed to give the invocation at the next meeting and requesting an Atheist also be allowed to give a non-religious invocation in the near future.

A practicing Pagan who lives in Huntsville said she was sad to hear what happened at the meeting, but it is something she has come to expect.

"Just because of the region that we're in, it's not very uncommon for people to be uninformed about Pagan religions, so it just wasn't very surprising," said Lydia Pinkston.

Council President Mark Russell and City Attorney Peter Joffrion have yet to comment on the story.

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