Last year, atheist Joseph Richardson delivered an invocation in front of the Polk County (Florida) Board of Commissioners… but only after Commissioner Bill Braswell assured the public there wouldn’t be “any pigs blood or a goat’s head” involved.
On Tuesday, another atheist gave an invocation. No animals were harmed during that speech either.
Sarah Ray, the co-founder and director of the Atheist Community of Polk County, gave an address that shows yet again how some Christians are paranoid over nothing. (Some of the wording comes from a 2013 invocation given by Arizona State Rep. Juan Mendez.)
You can hear it about 30 seconds into the video below:
Freethinkers, atheists, non-believers, whatever label you wish, this group comprises a significant part of our population. I am honored to be here to address you on their behalf, and on behalf of all the citizens of Polk County.
Most invocations in this room begin with a request to bow your heads. I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. Instead, I would like to ask that you to take a moment to look around the room at all of the people here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our County.
In our role as leaders, we often find ourselves engaged in challenging debates, moments of tension, of ideological division, of frustration — especially in these unusual times. But by the very fact of being human, we have much more in common than we have differences. We share the same spectrum of potential for care, for compassion, for fear, for joy, for love…
Carl Sagan once wrote, “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” There is, in the process of governance, much to bear. Let us cherish and celebrate our shared humanness, our shared capacity for reason and compassion, our shared love for the people of our County — and let us root our policymaking process in these values that are relevant to all Polk County residents. In gratitude and in love, in reason and in compassion, let us all work together for a better Polk County. Thank you.
Beautifully put, and no sign of any backlash. Local governments would be better off without invocations at all, but if they’re going to have them, it’s important to have non-Christian voices in the mix. Hard to find any problems with the sort of invocation given at this meeting.