After the Supreme Court’s awful decision to allow sectarian prayers at government meetings, there’s finally a bright spot that I hope will shine elsewhere, too: Amanda Novotny, President of the Siouxland Freethinkers in South Dakota, will be giving the invocation at a Sioux Falls City Council meeting this coming August:
After reading Mayor Mike Huether’s reaction to the ruling in Tuesday’s Argus Leader, Siouxland Freethinkers President Amanda Novotny contacted him about giving her own address.
“It is extremely important for people to be engaged and active in government on all levels, and opting out on account of a prayer prior to the meeting is simply not a viable option, especially for a minority group (such as non-theists) that need to be aware of decisions that are being made and advocate for the rights of non-theistic citizens as needed,” she said.
Novotny will give a secular opening remark at the Aug. 5 City Council meeting.
Of course, she could’ve given an invocation before the Court’s verdict, too, but it’s interesting to consider that she can now give a “sectarian” Humanist address without punishment. She can say “God doesn’t exist” instead of the usual, appeases-everyone, “let’s use reason and critical thinking.”
It might be considered rude to be so dismissive of others’ beliefs at a government function, but maybe giving Christians a taste of their own medicine will help them see the problem with the Court’s ruling. This is what conservative groups wanted, so why not give it to them?
Last night, I asked Amanda to comment on what she plans to say at the August meeting — and it turns out she’s much nicer than I am:
Although I don’t have my opening remarks written yet, I do know that it will contain an all-inclusive humanistic message, focusing on our shared human values and responsibility to work together to improve upon the city of Sioux Falls and the state of South Dakota. The focus will definitely be on the power of people working together, [with] a complete omission of any mention of supernatural entities of any kind.
I’m sure it’ll go over well, though I worry that many Christians who have the same opportunity around the country won’t hesitate to deliver a message focused on their God, everyone else be damned. How many of them, like Amanda, will try to be fully inclusive of everybody, including the non-religious?