WNEP-TV 16 article: “Man Objects To Prayers Before City Council Meetings”

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"Man Objects To Prayers Before City Council Meetings" c/o WNEP TV-16
“Man Objects To Prayers Before City Council Meetings” c/o WNEP TV-16

WNEP-TV writer Julia Melf authored an article titled “Man Objects To Prayers Before City Council Meetings” concerning my June 13, 2013 address to Wilkes-Barre City Council objecting to government-led prayer urging council to remove prayer from future meetings.

The comment section — with more than 120 comments — includes individuals asserting I secretly hate America, saying I should leave the United States because I am not welcome, telling me to “shut up and listen” to prayer, and suggesting I ought to leave council meetings (or not attend) if I object to prayer.

For more information pertaining to my objection to council prayer, read my extensive analysis. Those who have not viewed my address to Wilkes-Barre City Council ought to watch the below video:

Consider also watching an audio version of the WNEP-TV reporting:

Text of the article follows:

WILKES-BARRE — An objection was made Thursday night at the Wilkes-Barre city council meeting over the council’s use of prayer before meetings.

After the pledge of allegiance was recited and the weekly prayer was read, Justin Vacula stood up to make his case to city council.

Vacula, a self-proclaimed atheist, is the co-organizer and spokesperson for the NEPA Freethought Society and said although the act of prayer has been a long standing tradition at council meetings, government officials should leave prayer to individuals and refrain from leading prayer at council meetings.

Wilkes-Barre City Council President Bill Barrett said the board would get back to Vacula on the matter.

"City Council Agenda" Note that prayer is not included on the agenda, yet it comes directly after the Pledge - all during, not before, the meeting.
“City Council Agenda”
Note that prayer is not included on the agenda, yet it comes directly after the Pledge – all during, not before, the meeting.

This article was one of the first media reports concerning my objection to government-led prayer at Wilkes-Barre City Council meetings. The reporting was a decent short piece although the title appears to be misleading; prayer does not occur before council meetings, but rather occurs during council meetings – after the [“one nation under God”] Pledge of Allegiance which is prominently included as the first agenda item. For whatever reason, prayer — although it occurs during council meetings and is lead by Councilwoman Maureen Lavelle — is absent from the agenda.

The WNEP TV-16 article allowed for open discussion through commenting enabled on the article. Many secularists and individuals appearing to be theists joined the comment section which, this afternoon, has 125 comments. Secularists provided insightful comments while many who appear to be theists largely did not.

Following are some comments accompanying the article:

ScreenHunter_282 Jun. 16 11.38

“Seems to me you want to limit other peoples free thought”

ScreenHunter_283 Jun. 16 11.38


ScreenHunter_283 Jun. 16 11.39

“…This is how they inject excitement into their otherwise dreary and ordinary lives.”

ScreenHunter_284 Jun. 16 11.39

“Tell him to stand in the hall until after the prayer is said and then enter the meeting if he is so against prayer!!!!”

ScreenHunter_285 Jun. 16 11.40


ScreenHunter_286 Jun. 16 11.40

“Tell him to stay out of the meeting room till the prayer is finished.”

ScreenHunter_284 Jun. 16 11.40
“Tell him not to go to the Council meetings or better yet go back to where he comes from ! This is America! Home of the free and land of the brave ! Jackass”

ScreenHunter_286 Jun. 16 11.41

“Tell that guy if he doesn’t want to hear the prayer then don’t go to the meetings or at least attend after the prayer is read. There is always somebody that wants to upset the apple cart. I personally think it should be read.”

ScreenHunter_287 Jun. 16 11.41

“…You and his kind, just like deleting traditions from society and probably secretly hate the U.S. Go live in Iran…”

ScreenHunter_287 Jun. 16 11.42

“If you don’t like prayer don’t participate but don’t take away other peoples rights to pray…”

ScreenHunter_288 Jun. 16 11.42

“…Waste even more time and resources by making it an unnecessary political issue…”

ScreenHunter_288 Jun. 16 11.43

“…I just dont see how anyone that does not believe in something has any hope…”

ScreenHunter_288 Jun. 16 11.44

“…If you do not believe in God, then you do not have to take part in the prayer. Just sit quietly until it is over. It is not as if someone is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to pray to a God that you don’t believe it, because their not…”

ScreenHunter_289 Jun. 16 11.44

“…If you object to a prayer being said at the beginning of the meeting, wait outside till it is done and you won’t have to listen. I’m tired of the ppl who think their right to not believe is the law of the land…”

ScreenHunter_289 Jun. 16 11.45

“…If your an atheist then you have the right to leave the room while prayer is being said. Stop crying about it. No one is forcing you to sit and listen or shoving anything down your throat you do not believe in…”

ScreenHunter_290 Jun. 16 11.45

“…that man could have left if he didn’t want to hear it…”

ScreenHunter_291 Jun. 16 11.46

“…Tell him to sit down, shut up and listen to the meeting. If he has anything constructive to add to the decorum, then it shall be duly noted, otherwise, SHUT UP…”

ScreenHunter_290 Jun. 16 11.46

As always, feel free to leave your comments below.

Consider also commenting on the WNEP-TV 16 article.

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