The Clark County (Washington) Council just adopted a resolution that finally — finally — allows anybody to deliver an invocation. So congratulations to all the atheists and Satanists who will make the most of the new opportunity!
As recently as last month, the council was considering a policy that allowed religious speakers to deliver invocations while only allowing atheists to lead a moment of silence. That was clearly unfair and could have led to a legal challenge. But the new policy is much more inclusive:
The newly adopted guidelines allow groups or individuals “having no religious affiliation” to offer a brief statement or “reflect on the gravity of the moment, seek peace for the nation, wisdom for its lawmakers, and justice for its people, or generally appeal to universal values of our country” before council meetings. Any group or individual may also request a moment of silence in place of an invocation.
It’s a good policy and the councilors voted unanimously to adopt it.
But as many citizens said at yesterday’s meeting, there was another option: They could eliminate the invocation entirely. There’s no rule that says they have to open meetings with one, and if it’s creating this many problems for them, why not get rid of it and get to work? The elected officials and citizens are all able to pray just before the start of meetings on their own already; there’s no reason to formalize it.
This isn’t the first time Clark County has had a controversy over ceremonial religion. Two years ago, they voted to put the words “In God We Trust” behind them. That was followed by (unsuccessful) attempts to also put up the phrases “In Dissenters We Believe” and “E Pluribus Unum.”
(Thanks to Brian for the link)