Over the next two weeks, the Iowa General Assembly will finally hand the microphone to an atheist and a Humanist to deliver separate opening invocations.
Lynda Waddington of The Gazette has the story:
Throughout the years, a variety of religious and community leaders have spoken. Christian denominations hold the lion’s share of these appearances, but legislators also have heard from Jewish rabbis, Muslim imams, and one Wiccan priestess.
And now two secularists will join their ranks.
This Wednesday, Manchester native and atheist Justin Scott will lead the ceremony.
Then on April 17, Roxanne “Rocky” Gissler, president of Humanists of Linn County and a certified humanist celebrant, will take a turn in conjunction with “Reason on the Hill.” The event is another first in state politics featuring advocacy efforts by the state’s roughly 20 active secular groups.
I mentioned Rocky Gissler on this site yesterday after she delivered a beautiful speech at an anti-bigotry event. And Justin Scott is practically a staple on this website for the questions he asks local and national politicians.
They’ll each have 90 seconds to speak, though neither has a speech prepared just yet. We’ll post updates with their invocations as soon as they’re available.
Incidentally, the Wiccan priestess who delivered an invocation in 2015 was invited by State Rep. Liz Bennett, who welcomed the news of two atheists doing the honors:
Kudos to my colleagues in the State House, Rep. Art Staed and Rep. Timi Brown-Powers. When I invited my constituent, Deborah Maynard (who is a Wiccan) in 2015, many people thought the sky would fall. It didn’t. It’s true that some people either didn’t understand or resented sharing, like entitled children. Still, I received messages that surprised me from Iowans of many faiths, who feel left out and intentionally excluded. The State House is the people’s house, and people believe many things. They should be welcomed in their state capitol. See you soon, Roxanne Gissler and Justin Scott.
I know it’s easy to get cynical about politics, but remember that there are decent people in government who actually respect the Constitution and want to do the right thing instead of playing games to score political points. Inviting non-Christians to give invocations at the start of legislative sessions can’t be easy in Iowa, but these elected officials did it anyway.
(Image via Shutterstock)