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Atheists blast DCF chief for ‘proselytizing’ to agency workers

by Dara Kam | May 4th, 2012

Atheists are accusing Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins of breaking the law with a prayer he sent to the agency’s workers yesterday asking God to help his workers “find their identity in You.”

Wilkins, a Baptist who is also the Florida’s chief operating officer, sent the missive to DCF workers yesterday after offering the prayer at a National Day of Prayer event – also attended by his boss, Gov. Rick Scott – in the Capitol.

“This message from a Department head to all subordinates is shocking and unconstitutional,” Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote in a letter to Scott and Wilkins’ general counsel yesterday. “The message gives the appearance of government endorsement of Christianity. Civil servants should not be subject to such ridiculous calls to religion in the workplace.”

Wilkins’ prayer refers to the Old Testament without mentioning Jesus Christ and basically asks God to protect the state’s children and families and help them to be better people.

“Help them to grow into a complete understanding of their authority in You, Lord, while retaining a submissive and humble spirit. We pray that the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control grow in them daily. We pray that they find their identity in You and view themselves as Your instrument, and that they will know that they are fully complete in You, and You alone,” part of his prayer reads.

The memo is part of an “ongoing dialogue the Secretary has with employees” to share information about his public appearances and agency activities, Wilkins’ spokesman Joe Follick said.

“Neither this message or any of the Secretary’s daily actions on behalf of the agency’s 13,000 employees and providers ever carry any attempt to impact every American’s right to believe and follow their faith of choice.
We are proud to have the nation’s best social services team working to improve this state and are proud that among our employees are men and women of all faiths,” Follick said.

But sending the prayer to employees is unconstitutional because it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibiting government sponsorship of religious messages, Gaylor argued.

“Government officials may of course attend private functions on their own time as private citizens. It is a misuse of office, however, for government actors to use their position to disseminate their religious messages spawned by the National Day of Prayer. A state department head may not use state resources to promote such a sectarian message,” Gaylor wrote. “Governor, you have taken the oath of office to uphold the secular U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Florida, and you must ensure that your office and public officials under your oversight do not abuse their position to further their personal religious beliefs.”
Read Wilkins’ entire prayer after the jump.

“Dear Lord,

We thank You for this beautiful Lord’s day! It is a celebration to be able to come together to pray to you, Our Sovereign God, for the children and families in our great state of Florida. We come to you today with complete reverence for all that You are, Lord, and we thank You that You are sovereign over all of Your creation.

Lord, We pray that You will pour out Your Spirit upon the children and families in this state. We pray that You will deliver them from any evil that would rob them of their lives, that would steal away their uniqueness and giftedness or compromise the path that you’ve called them to walk, or to destroy the person that You created them to be. May they not be a follower of anyone but You, Lord, but may they be a leader of people into Your kingdom.

Help them to grow into a complete understanding of their authority in You, Lord, while retaining a submissive and humble spirit. We pray that the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control grow in them daily. We pray that they find their identity in You and view themselves as Your instrument, and that they will know that they are fully complete in You, and You alone.

In Jeremiah, You tell us that You know the plans You have for us…plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future. We pray that our young people will see themselves as You do–from their future and NOT from their past. Help them be convinced that Your thoughts toward them are thoughts of peace and not of evil, and that You will give them a future and a hope. Teach them to look to You as their hope FOR the future. Help them to understand that it is You who has saved us and has called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to Your purpose. We pray that their commitment to being who You created them to be, enable them to grow daily in confidence and boldness.

You created each one of your precious children uniquely different….each perfect with the talents and abilities to do Your will here on Earth. We pray that You will develop those talents and abilities, so that they can be used for Your glory. We pray as they recognize that they are uniquely different from anyone else that You have created, that no feelings of inadequacy, fear, or uncertainty will keep them from following You and being willing to be used for Your purposes. May they hear the call You have on their lives so that they do not spend their lives living in a state of confusion, trying to figure out what it is that You would have them do with their lives.

Let their talent never be wasted, watered down by mediocrity, or used to glorify anything or anyone other than You, Lord. We pray that You will reveal to them what their life work is to be and help them excel in it. Bless the work of their hands, and help them see that they can be used to help others.

In Proverbs, You tell us that, “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.” We pray that whatever our precious children do, that it will find favor with You and with others and it will be well received and well respected. We pray that the gifts and talents that You have placed in them be released to find their fullest expression in glorifying You.

We know that You are the One that oversees all that we do and we thank You that You are with us in serving the children and families and ask for a special blessing for the most vulnerable. We ask You to lead us, to guide us, and to direct our paths as we do Your will and we will give You all of the glory and praise!

Forgive us of our sins, Lord.
In Your name, Amen”

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15 Responses to “Atheists blast DCF chief for ‘proselytizing’ to agency workers”

  1. .... Says:

    Amen!

  2. Downtown Danny Says:

    So now we have con artist, one who ran a company that was fined $1.5 billion for theft & fraud of taxpayers money, trying to force their preacher man interpretation of a 2,000 year old book on state employees. Where in the bible does it say its ok to steal billions from medicare? Where in the bible does it say its ok to have everyone walking around with a gun ready to kill anyone who “stands their ground.”
    Where does it say in the bible that its ok to cut funding to the mentally disabled and give those fund to the rich in the form of tax breaks?
    The bible, and organized religion – is the oldest con artist game on the planet. It has been used to kill thousands of people and create massive wealth thru false shame.
    I can believe in God without someone sending me their prayers.

  3. Coach Says:

    I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

  4. Ruth Walker Says:

    Unbelievable! I’m 71 years old and learned in a one-room country school that the First Amendment meant separation of church and state and learned in Sunday school that Jesus said to pray in private and not flaunt religion. Matthew 6

  5. Same Ole, Same Ole Says:

    As said before:

    We shall always be surrounded by innocent religionists others.

    They are not (by definition) bad but a part of our culture and have had their (often positive) input in the way thing are done.

    Our job is simply to teach.

    This is a never-ending process.

    We succeed, we win.

    We lose, then the horrific and barbaric Muslims will win . . . and all of us will lose our culture — as we know it!

    Have you really researched and want this?

  6. Ronald Wall Says:

    These fundamentalist Christians have one goal – prepare for the Kingdom of God on earth. The problem with this is that they believe for that to happen, our country (obiviously the place where that “Kindom” will surely be built)must start obeying the laws of the Bible, not of man. They believe their calling is greater than the U.S. Constitution (although they will strongly deny that). If they succeed in their mission our democracy will be a thing of the past. If you think the muslim Taliban is bad, wait to get a load of the Christian version.

  7. Babs Parker Says:

    Citizen Wilkins can ask others to pray and believe in his god. Citizen Wilkins would be taking advantage of his right to freely exercise his religion. But Secretary Wilkins may not use the resources of his office and his governmental title to promote his religion. Secretary Wilkins must not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment which protects us all from government imposing a religion upon us. Therefore Secretary Wilkins must cease and desist his proselytizing.

  8. Ruth P Says:

    Senator Wilkins was simply saying a prayer on behalf of the children and families that need help. How is that wrong? I do not see anything wrong with giving hope to the hopeless. I did not read anywhere where he tried to change someone views. The prayer was uplifting and encouraging. If we are free to choose what we believe and what we say why do “leaders” have to keep silent about their views or beliefs. There also was a statement about this prayer being an update on his activities and appearance so really its just a recap.

  9. Voter who knows Says:

    “Amen” to “Downtown Danny.”. Wilkins should keep his preaching to himself. DCF workers are underpaid, overworked, and blamed for the horrors committed by sick parents. I don’t think they need Wilkins to lead them in prayer. I think they need the Gov to get serious about their funding. Just think of the good the Governor’s $70 million, that he used to buy his seat, could have done for the people of Florida. All areas…roads, jobs, services, tax breaks for distressed ho downers…

  10. Educated One Says:

    You can obviously tell who doesn’t believe in God on here. For one, anyone should be able to pray when they feel like it. He is not forcing his religious beliefs on anyone. With all that is happening to kids someone needs to be praying, because the families of those kids who have been mistreated, beaten, killed, and abused mentally and physically sure aren’t doing it. Good job Mr. Wilkins.

  11. ron hardcastle Says:

    Secretary Wilkins was sharing a prayer with Department staff that focused on the children and families we serve.

    As a Judeo-Christian society, we should take every oppurtinity to thank and praise our Lord. Individuals who do not have faith do not have to read the message.

    Joe Follick should not try to cloak the intent of the Secretary’s prayer by suggesting the intent of the message was “ongoing dialogue to share information about his public appearances…”

    It is about the message, the prayer; not the function, the prayer breakfast, or the man, Wilkins. He was acting as a conduit, and did an exceptional job.

  12. Tom S. Says:

    Ruth P.

    Sorry your school didn’t teach you what the 1st amendment actually says, there is no mention of “separation of church and state”

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Some have said that Jefferson created the “a wall of separation” with the following letter. I would beg to disagree and I read it to say the government has no business restricting speech or expression of ones religion. *my emphasis added*

    Gentleman,

    The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or *prohibiting the free exercise thereof* thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
    *I reciprocate your kind prayers* for the protection and blessing of the *common Father and Creator of man*, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect and esteem.

    Th. Jefferson

    January 1, 1802

  13. geez Says:

    Annie Laurie Gaylor is an idiot. DCF can use all the help they can get. Let Annie enjoy her Godless, sin-sick society all she wants. When she dies and wakes up in hell, she’ll wish she had chosen otherwise. What a moron!

  14. geez Says:

    yeah!

  15. JonBoy Says:

    If someone really believes in concepts like eternal life, heaven, hell, eternal salvation or damnation then how much would he or she have to hate me to not try to save you?

    Not really germane to the topic but maybe a little love tap to the anti-religious folks out there. And to set the record straight, true “Christians” are the turn the other cheek type and not the “I want to hurt you for not believing like I do” type.

    Secretary Wilkins should not have to hide his beliefs anymore than Ms. Gaylor should have to hide hers. I read the prayer and he’s not trying to convert anyone and nowhere in his missive is anything approaching the hostility that Ms. Gaylor afflicted on him.

    Keep on praying Wilkins. Government doesn’t seem to be helping. Maybe God can. Couldn’t be any worse than what we have now.

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