Fla. Mayor Objects to Humanist Week Because Group Doesn't 'Believe in Jesus Christ'

At a heated city council meeting earlier this week, Mayor Craig Fletcher of Vero Beach, Fla., voted against a proclamation which would have declared June 16-23 as Humanist Recognition Week.

Mayor Fletcher denied the request of the local Humanists of the Treasure Coast to designate Humanist Recognition Week because humanists "[do] not believe in Jesus Christ."

"I refuse to support any organization that does not believe in Jesus Christ," Fletcher said at Tuesday's city council meeting at City Hall in Vero Beach.

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 "It's a proclamation for Humanists. They do not recognize Jesus Christ as their savior," the mayor continued. "I'll have nothing to do with it. If you want to out vote me, that's fine. Go ahead, make a motion and get it done."

Fellow city council member Jay Kramer then said that he would make a motion to approve the proclamation, arguing that the proclamation represents a "freedom of speech issue."

"We treat everybody equal on this thing," Kramer added.

"In the interest of tolerance and openness I believe we should keep that on the agenda," City councilwoman Pilar Turner added.

The text of the proclamation states that the "constitution of [the United States] recognizes that all religious perspectives are treated equal."

"As a nation and community of citizens from so many diverse backgrounds and beliefs, the only way we can solve our problems is through cultivating intelligent and ethical interactions among people with tolerance and respect," the proclamation added.

While Fletcher and Vice Mayor Tracy Carroll voted against the proclamation, the remaining three city council members passed it, therefore allowing Humanist Recognition Week to take place.

During the public comments section of the meeting, Carroll sought to clarify that the reason she voted against the proclamation was because after researching the term "humanist" on the Internet, she found it coincided generally with the definition for atheist, and therefore she thought it inappropriate to designate a day of recognition for atheists.

Additionally, Carroll argued that the Humanists of the Treasure Coast have "chastised" the city on various past issues, including complaining that the city not recognize Thanksgiving because of its historic purpose of giving thanks to God.

Carroll argued that the attempt by the humanist group to designate a day of recognition for themselves contradicts all issues they've previously fought for.

Phil Katrovitz, a member of the humanist group, thanked the council for approving the proclamation and informed them that the reason the group chose these particular dates for Humanist Recognition Week is because major humanist groups, including the International Humanist and Ethical Union, have designated June 21 as World Humanist Day.

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