Bill Knight, the mayor of Greensboro, North Carolina, recently decided to have prayers before city council meetings.
A couple nights ago, the founder and current president of that group, Phillip Drum, spoke out against it as well.
Here’s video of his speech — a transcript is below:
Hi, my name is Phillip Drum… I am the founder and current president of UNCG Atheists, Agnostics, and Skeptics.
I come to speak to you tonight because I believe that the Mayor has taken steps toward excluding a valuable group in our society. I have been an atheist for many years and I feel that by encouraging and mandating a prayer at meetings the Mayor is trampling on my rights as a citizen of the United States.
Before entering college I served six years in the United States Army in the Infantry branch and eventually reached the rank of Staff Sergeant and the position of a Platoon Sergeant. I have been to Iraq twice, and worked to defend this country at every opportunity. The ideas behind why we were in Iraq never entered my mind because I had a job to do as a soldier. I had an obligation to my subordinates and my fellow Soldiers, to keep them safe and to look out for their welfare. In the same way, you, Mayor Knight, have an obligation to the great citizens of this city. An obligation to ensure that no one is discriminated against. An obligation to conduct inclusive City Council meetings regardless of the citizens’ faith or lack thereof. You sir, have an obligation to citizens like myself who have done everything in their power to help defend this great country.
I would also like the Mayor and the City Council to know that I am respecting them because I have not organized all the members of my organization to come and speak. Tonight, I will be the only one speaking on behalf of my organization. In the future, I have encouraged only one person to speak at every council meeting. I do not want to monopolize the time of this forum and drown out the voices of the rest of the community..
I would like to conclude by reiterating: What is wrong with a moment of silence where all people with and without faith can collect their thoughts and pray if they choose? A moment of silence allows everyone to be respected and there was nothing wrong with this event where everyone in the city can take part in. I ask the Mayor to reconsider his policy and the City Council to urge the Mayor in public and in private to change this policy, because it is the right thing to do.
Thank you very much.
I love that he’s sending one member of the group to every city council meeting to make sure the message gets heard 🙂
There’s been no policy change yet, but people are talking about it… there’s hope. And if enough people keep pressuring the council, maybe they will come to their senses.