Arizona Atheist Gives Opening Legislative Prayer

MENDEZArizona had an extraordinary moment this week during the opening prayer. No it is not what you think of some sectarian screed or other controversy. To the contrary, it was an unprecedented act of inclusion when the legislature allowed an atheist to open the session. An atheist state lawmaker tasked with delivering the opening prayer for this afternoon’s session of the House of Representatives asked that people not bow their heads. Democratic Representative Juan Mendez, of Tempe, is an atheist and opened the session by asking his colleagues not to bow their heads but look at each other.

Mendez told his colleagues:

“Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads. I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women 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 state.

This is a room in which there are many challenging debates, many moments of tension, of ideological division, of frustration,” Mendez said. “But this is also a room where, as my secular humanist tradition stresses, 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.”

He added, “Carl Sagan once wrote, ‘For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.'”

For atheists, it was a rare occasion for inclusion. Despite the increasing attacks on atheists and agnostics that we have been discussing, this was a moment of tolerance that is worth noting . . . and celebrating.

Source: New Times

42 thoughts on “Arizona Atheist Gives Opening Legislative Prayer

  1. The legislator said: “and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state.”

    It seems that like all of the rest in the room that he had no clue as to why the fuk he was there. That is very far from limiting yourself to protecting the Inalienable rights of those in your state.

  2. I thought there were other, more pressing issues in the legislature than acting like a church and doing the prayer thing.

    And this business Nick mentioned about baseball players making the sign of the cross. To me that is both arrogant and pathetic at the same time.

    Arrogant because it is akin to announcing to everyone they are special because they are so pious and hence better. Pathetic because they are so dependant on God, they can’t do anything by themselves without asking for His help: mollycoddled by religion.

  3. Religion with external prayer Jesus abhorred is the devil out there with in God another place. God needs to be in us directed to each other. God is in that atheist driving that home by having the people look at each other rather than looking down bowing. Religions relying on public prayer as they call it are not praying to God at all.

  4. Oh My…. Such a practice may be a common place…. Lest Jefferson roll over in his grave…

  5. “There might be a big guy in the sky,
    But you’re a god & so am I.”
    I don’t consider myself religious, but I do consider true Atheists religious. I just had a conversation with one. Nice guy, but he won’t consider anything he can’t perceive with the physical universe, which is, of course, matter energy, space & time. It does not matter to an Atheist that the mind cannot remember more than 3 months if it all had to be kept on the physical plane, but that’s a fact & provable, if one had the time & the Atheist doctrine, religion if you please, were not in the way.
    Of course, the word religion at one time meant ‘study of wisdom & knowledge’ but its far away from that today, even though every religion would gladly accept that idea for their religion, as long as you exclude all the others!

    • True atheists are Christians. Atheists condemning the same people as the religious people condemn are not true atheists. Religions who seek peace with all like Jesus seeks it are true Christians too. That shift is occurring with churches with all of their heart accepting people that are called gay.

  6. Blouise, Aunt Julia was a hoot. But alas she died in 2003 @ 98 years old. Someone may be messing w/ me, but it ain’t her.

  7. Blouise, This may sound stupid but I talk to the deceased people I loved, Julia among them. No..they don’t talk back. But, it helps keep them in my heart. Julia married late in life and didn’t have kids. We 4 were her favorite nieces and nephews. She would be in our living room when we came down on Christmas morning. She would lay a $20 bill on all of us which was serious dough. There was no checkpoint between her brain and mouth. That’s one of the things I loved about her.

  8. Why was he chosen to lead a prayer when he does not believe in it? FYI, Carl Sagan did not love his wife and son when he left them for another (younger) woman. He left behind a bitter ex-wife. Maybe Juan Mendez should have chosen a different saint.

  9. nick,

    I also had a dearly loved Aunt … great-Aunt who was childless. My father was named after her husband and she was like a grandparent to us. I named my youngest after her. Talking to those who have passed is comforting … I even yell at them sometimes.

  10. To the contrary, it was an unprecedented act of inclusion when the legislature allowed an atheist to open the session. An atheist state lawmaker tasked with delivering the opening prayer for this afternoon’s session of the House of Representatives asked that people not bow their heads.

    He added, “Carl Sagan once wrote, ‘For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.’”

    For atheists, it was a rare occasion for inclusion. Despite the increasing attacks on atheists and agnostics that we have been discussing, this was a moment of tolerance that is worth noting . . . and celebrating.
    ———————————————————————————————-
    I’m an agnostic. Carl Sagan was poetic.

  11. Y’all have it all one way or the other. God or no God. Well, folks, as one who has total recall of the trip through the Pearly Gates and the reassignment to life on Earth and being rewarded for living a good life the last time by being sent back as a dog in America, my views are different than most of the commentors. I am an athieist dog who believes in reincarnation and believes that Dog was put here on Earth on the 8th Day to look out for humans. I dont pray and I dont beg. Give me a biscy if I am a good dog but I dont beg. If someone praises the Lard on Sunday then I say praise Crisco on Monday.

    • Don’t you know scripture? Once to live and then the judgment. It will be in Gods light or in the devils jail. That jail is a torturous holding pen untill final judgment for evil souls. Your soul is not evil. Dog has Gods spirit in him. Nature does in fact, howbeit fallen one day to be restored to it’s former glory. The good thing about you is that you have praise in you not cursing. That is God in you.

  12. itchinBayDog 1, May 22, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Throw me a bone. The last dog I had would bury it in the garden.

  13. To: Blousie, writing @ May 22, 2013 at 9:18 am:

    Nothing to apologize for. Jewish tradition holds that God would rather we obey his Commandments, and deal justly with each other, than remember his name. I have no doubt that God (if such a being exists) took more pleasure in Representative Mendez’s invocation than in all the pious blather of people like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Donald Wildman, the Family Research Council, etc., ad nauseum.

  14. artiewhitefox 1, May 23, 2013 at 1:47 am

    Don’t you know scripture? Once to live and then the judgment. It will be in Gods light or in the devils jail. That jail is a torturous holding pen untill final judgment for evil souls. Your soul is not evil. Dog has Gods spirit in him. Nature does in fact, howbeit fallen one day to be restored to it’s former glory. The good thing about you is that you have praise in you not cursing. That is God in you.
    ________________________

    They gave me a bible, but I don’t know where it is. Lucifer doesn’t scare me. I wouldn’t have objected to the Navy brig.

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