A politician in Lake Worth, Florida, is breaking her silence one week after she joined others in abruptly and silently walking out of a city meeting before an atheist delivered his secular invocation.
Mayor Pam Triolo was joined by three commissioners in exiting the room in protest last Tuesday after Preston Smith stood up and took the podium to deliver his brief remarks.
It wasn't until Monday, though, that Triolo offered an explanation to WPTV-TV.
"I didn't leave because Mr. Smith is an atheist, I left because of his alleged tweet," she said, referencing an offensive social media message that Smith is said to have sent over the summer. "Free speech works both ways. You can say what you want and I can choose to leave."
But commissioner Christopher McVoy, who stayed through the invocation, said that he disagreed with his peers' decision to exit the room, calling it "very un-American."
"If we choose to have an invocation, we have a responsibility to respectfully listen," he told WPTV-TV.
Watch the walk-out and the invocation below:
During his brief remarks, Smith used the word "pray" and invoked "father Earth."
"Father Earth, we gather today in your redeeming and glorious presence," he said. "To invoke your eternal guidance in the universe, the original creator of all things."
He went on to mention numerous deities and to conclude by praising atheist and secular values.
Smith later said that he believes that the decision to leave before his address was an act of discrimination against his beliefs, according to WPTV-TV.
Battles over invocations have continued to rage following the Greece vs. Galloway Supreme Court decision, which allows prayer at public meetings. Atheists have since been offering their own secular invocations to counter religious messages.
As TheBlaze previously reported, the American Humanist Association is launched a website in May that offerd atheists information on how to provide atheist invocations at public meetings; we have covered examples of these “non-prayers” in the past.