First Coast Freethought Society

Wednesday on “First Coast Connect," we spoke with Clay County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis (00:58). We also heard from the director of communications from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State Rob Boston (28:00) and we were joined by PS 27 managing partner Jim Stallings (45:12)


On Monday’s First Coast Connect we discussed the problem of sewage overflows in Jacksonville after Hurricane Matthew. More than 11 million gallons of sewage have been discharged around Duval County, and after Hurricane Hermine, 20 million gallons flowed into Tampa Bay. Host Melissa Ross spoke by phone with Alyson Kenward of Climate Central, an independent organization researching climate change. We also spoke with Bill Mefford, the faith outreach specialist for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, regarding a Monday meeting at the First Coast Freethought Society, and Cole Pepper talked about the Jaguars win over the Chicago Bears plus the weekend’s sports news.   

   

City of Jacksonville

Updated, 5:15 p.m., Tuesday, March 22:   

Every Jacksonville City Council meeting begins with an invocation — but the one before this evening’s meeting was different from all the others before it.

  Jacksonville City Councilman Tommy Hazouri announced Saturday that he will suspend his push to adopt local discrimination protections for the LGBT community.

Hazouri is withdrawing his bill that would amend the city’s human rights ordinance to protect those citizens from discrimination in jobs, housing and public accommodations. The move means this divisive local issue will be put on the back burner, at least for now, leaving Jacksonville one of the largest major cities that still lacks legal discrimination protection for the LGBT community.

The HRO has been controversial in large part because opponents have raised religious objections to the legislation.

We’ve also seen the debate over rights vs. religious liberty at the national level.

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. recognized a for-profit corporation's claim of religious belief. Following this ruling many states, including Florida, have since proposed expanding state religious freedom laws to include for-profit corporations.

We speak with Toni Van Pelt is co-founder, president and Congressional lobbyist for the Institute for Science and Human Values. She’ll be speaking about the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act” and what she calls its its dangers to secular society and government at an event presented by the First Coast Freethought Society.


Florida Coastal School of Law

A Florida Coastal School of Law professor will be making the case that government should stay silent on controversial issues at a First Coast Freethought Society forum Monday night.

The lecture, titled "When the Government Should Shut Up," will highlight how government contradicts itself about what qualifies as free speech.