In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Greece vs. Galloway ruling in favor of sectarian prayer at public meetings so long as all voices are invited to lead invocations, atheist activists are ensuring that their own secular proclamations are uttered in cities and towns across America.
And on Tuesday night, atheist Dan Courtney took to the podium at a Greece Town Board meeting in Greece, New York — the epicenter of the now-settled legal battle — to issue his own secular “prayer.”
Considering the town’s role in the First Amendment debate, Courtney’s act garnered national attention. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, officials invited him to lead the meeting “in a moment of prayer,” as a packed room of citizens and reporters watched in anticipation.
But unlike traditional appeals to a higher power, Courtney, an engineer from Hamlin, New York, mentioned the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence and touted the importance of atheists and nonbelievers.
“I appreciate this opportunity,” he said in his opening. “Freethinkers, atheists, nonbelievers — whatever term you wish to use — this group represents a significant portion of our population so I am honored to be offering the invocation on their behalf.”
Courtney also spoke of citizens’ quest for both knowledge and wisdom before encouraging politicians to seek guidance and input from all members of society.
“And we can say with confidence that it is in seeking the counsel of our conscience that we find the beginning of wisdom. It is in the exercise of our duty as citizens that we find the beginning of knowledge,” he continued. “We as citizens, the beginning and the end — the Alpha and Omega of our destiny — are not, as the great philosopher Immanuel Kant warned, mere means to the ends of another, but we are ends in ourselves.”
Watch the invocation below:
As TheBlaze previously reported, the American Humanist Association, a secular activist group, has focused upon a portion of the Greece vs. Galloway ruling that called for local governments to be fair to all theological views within their jurisdictions.
Rather than remain silent while Christians and other people of faith pray at government meetings, the secular group is encouraging nonbelievers to also exercise their right to offer public invocations.
So, the Humanist Society, a supplemental arm of the American Humanist Association, launched a website that offers atheists information on secular invocations, including a definition of what these non-theistic prayers consist of, examples of these invocations and an interactive U.S. map showing where individuals who are qualified to deliver them reside.
Read more about that project here.