I was on my little vacation last week, so I missed the story on the FFRF’s podcast Freethought Radio regarding Dan Courtney, an Atheist activist from Rochester, NY, who gave the first secular invocation at the opening of Greece, NY’s town hall meeting. As you might recall, this is the town at the center of the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision allowing sectarian prayer at government meetings. The ruling also stated, however, that the government had to allow equal access to others who wanted to give non-Christian invocations, which also includes non-believers as well.
On the show, Mr. Courtney was interviewed, and he stated that he came up with the idea of writing a specifically secular invocation when he realized there really wasn’t one, and that it was a “blind spot” for Secularists in their fight for equal access. There are links to the full text of the invocation and a video of him reciting it over at the Friendly Atheist blog.
The Supreme Court decision was obviously complete bullshit, as anything religious has absolutely no place in any government setting. Since, however, it is a fait accompli, Atheists, Secularists, and anyone who believes in the separation of Church and State should do whatever they can to make sure they really push for getting these sort of invocation presented in all government meetings to counteract the religious influence in civil life. This is something on which individuals can take action, without the need of a big organization. Go to your local meeting and state that you would like to give an invocation. You could use Mr. Courtney’s, or you could craft your own statement which would include people of ALL beliefs, including the 20 percent of the population who don’t identify with any religion. If people really get behind this sort of movement, they could turn a negative into a positive, and actually increase the visibility of Secularism in this country.
I completely agree with you, and if anybody wants to use my invocation I would be honored. Just one minor correction to your post. It is the theists that have the “blind spot”, since they can’t seem to imagine non-theists participating in the invocation process. People like Justice Scalia are blind to non-believers in so many ways, but this is one of the most obvious.
Keep up the good work.
It’s great to hear from you. You are absolutely right about the Justices having the blind spot. I wish we had more secular minded people in positions of power in the government so the religious bias could be counteracted. We just have to make sure our voices are heard, and you are an inspiration for people to do just that.
Thank you. When you have six Catholics and three Jews trying to understand an atheist’s perspective you’re going to get an imperfect result at the least.