NEPA Freethought Society to deliver secular invocation at June 12, 2014 Wilkes-Barre City Council meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 1, 2014

Media Contact: Justin Vacula, justinvacula [at] gmail.com

NEPA Freethought Society to deliver secular invocation at June 12, 2014 Wilkes-Barre City Council meeting

Wilkes-Barre – The NEPA Freethought Society — a social, educational, activist, and philosophical coalition of atheists, agnostics, humanists, secularists, and skeptics predicated on support and community which upholds the separation of church and state and promotes critical thinking — will deliver a secular invocation at Wilkes-Barre City Council’s 6:00 PM June 12, 2014 meeting.

Justin Vacula — NEPA Freethought Society Spokesperson and Co-organizer — will deliver a secular invocation as an alternative to the Judeo-Christian government-led prayers offered by Councilwoman Maureen Lavelle at each council meeting.

Vacula has voiced objections to council’s prayers and council’s refusals to include alternative perspectives to prayer, both religious and non-religious, during several council meetings. Councilman Tony George, at a May 29, 2014 council meeting, although refusing time for Vacula to speak during openings of meetings, permitted Vacula to provide a secular invocation during five minutes of the public comment section.

Vacula, on June 1, explained his rationale for providing a secular invocation, “Wilkes-Barre City Council continues to exclusively provide government-led Judeo-Christian prayer during its meetings despite objections. Since council will not allow citizens to speak during openings of meetings, the proper response is to offer a secular invocation during the public comment section as a form of protest and an inclusive model which council can utilize.”

The secular invocation will not denigrate believers, critique religious belief, or rebuke members of city government Wilkes-Barre Mayor Thomas Leighton described as “people of faith” at a May 2013 council meeting, but rather will provide an inclusive message which council members and citizens can reflect upon to inform their thought processes and discourse. A voice for non-Christians delivering an alternative to Judeo-Christian government-led prayer, for what might be the first time, will be represented at Wilkes-Barre City Council meetings.

Members of the public — both religious and non-religious — are also encouraged to attend the June 12 council meeting and future council meetings to offer invocations of their own as alternatives to Judeo-Christian government-led prayers. Prospective attendees must arrive prior to start of meetings (preferably 15 minutes) to complete a provided speaker form lest they are not permitted to speak.

More information about the NEPA Freethought Society can be found on their new website located at www.meetup.com/NEPAFreethoughtSociety.

Vacula’s website can be found at www.justinvacula.com.

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Justin Vacula

Justin Vacula hosts the Stoic Philosophy Podcast; serves as co-organizer and spokesperson for the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Freethought Society; and has hosted monthly Stoic Philosophy discussion groups for the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia. He has appeared on and hosted various radio shows and podcasts; participated in formal debates and discussions; was a guest speaker for college-level courses; was featured in local, national, and international news; and has been invited to speak at various national, local, and statewide events. Vacula received bachelor's degrees in Philosophy and Psychology, a minor in Professional Writing, and the distinguished W.A. Kilburn Memorial Award for Philosophy from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He is currently living in the Scranton, PA area attending Marywood University's graduate-level Mental Health Counseling program and has worked with the Arc of Luzerne County's Transition to Community Employment program as a teacher's assistant and job coach alongside adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He also plays poker; volunteers as a member of the website and media team for the Greyhawk Reborn Dungeons & Dragons campaign while playing at events in the Eastern United States; and enjoys metal music.