For a while now, the Atheists of Butte County (in California) have been urging the Chico City Council to let them deliver invocations at meetings. After a lot of attempts — and some potential legal threats — the council finally agreed to let atheists speak at three separate meetings this year.
The first of those meetings was last night, and group leader George Gold (in hat, below) gave a wonderful invocation:
Good evening Mr. Mayor, members of the city council, administrators.
I’m George Gold. I’m the Coordinator of the Butte County Coalition of Reason, and I’m President of the Atheists of Butte County.
Rather than bowing our heads and closing our eyes in deference, we want to encourage you to open your eyes wide to face the reality that confronts us. We should do so without losing sight of our ideals and what we might achieve.
When this body comes together to govern, you do so with the consent of the citizens of Chico. Chico is a diverse community with many different views and opinions. The eclectic community, according to the Pew Research Center, includes 20 per cent of our population who are living secular lives.
In the city of Chico, that means, for the first time ever, I’m here representing over 17,000 secular Chico citizens with this invocation.
Humanists, non-believers, agnostic[s], and atheists by their very nature, believe that we have the power to solve all problems within ourselves, amongst ourselves, through science and reason, and that by applying this science and reason with the strength found in sympathy and compassion, we can overcome any hurdle we encounter.
It’s incumbent upon this council to make the best decisions for the entire community. In this regard, I ask that you use wisdom, common sense, and empathy in your deliberations.
In your work here, take into account the implications of your decisions — that they will have now and in the future. Be reminded of the joyous laughter of children playing in the comfort of the shade of our trees. You are planting seeds for the benefit of future generations.
Where there are problems, where there is debate, let us be accountable for our own actions. Let’s not point to the shortcomings of others. Let’s behave morally and judiciously. Let’s treat each other with respect.
When we need to find wisdom, let’s look to the documents of the government: the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and, yes, the First Amendment, which in one sentence provides for separation between church and state. And we might even consult the City Charter.
Let us open our hearts to the inherent dignity and worth of each person in our community. I hope we can appreciate and realize our differences of race and religion, and/or lack of religion.
In the end we are all human beings. When we bleed, we bleed one of the four basic blood groups. Regardless of race, regardless of where we live, regardless of our political affiliations, whether we are rich or poor, and yes, whether we are religious or decidedly not religious, for in every single one of us, the color of our blood is the same.
In the face of adversity, we need not look above for answers, but instead we should recognize the proven potential within ourselves and in each other to overcome the many challenges that we will face in the coming year.
Our commonalities unite us, and I hope we and you can recognize our humanity as we get ready for the challenges of this new year.
We, the secular community, want to participate in our communities with a life full of inspiration, imagination, and beauty.
Each of us wants to live a life honorable and ethical. We hope you feel the same.
Some people say I’m just a child of the 60s. Just look at my long hair [Lifts hat]. Oh, gone. My big black beard. Oh, gone. But I suppose that it might be true. Nevertheless, my mantra’s always been: make love not war. Today, I guess if nothing else, I still believe in that.
Thank you and Happy New Year.
An excellent job and a unique ending 🙂 Very nice.