Arizona Legislator Leads Colleagues In Double Prayer To Repent For Prayer By Atheist Member The Day Before

steve-smithWe recently celebrated the showing of tolerance in Arizona when the legislators allowed an atheist member to give the opening “prayer.” 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. That did not sit well with Arizona State Rep. Steven Smith who proceeded the next day to give not one, but two prayers. The second prayer was to express “repentance” of the secular invocation offered the day before by Mendez. He was joined by half of the Arizona lawmakers in using prayer as a condemnation of Mendez and atheists.

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.'”

It appears that those words filled Smith and many of his colleagues with rage. Smith describes himself as a religious conservative. His faith does not extend it appears to the protection a healthy environmental for families. He received a zero from environmentalists for his voting while receiving near a 100% from the NRA. However, what really distinguishes him now is his sectarian and religious prejudice.

Smith is the the Director of a Phoenix-based Talent Agency and bills himself as basing his public life on “GOD, FAMILY, COUNTRY.” It is the God part that proves a recurring political theme for Smith, whose campaign literature proclaims “As devout Christians, Steve and his family strive to live their lives according to God’s will.” He was “ranked #1 by the Goldwater Institute, the Pachyderm Coalition, and named ‘Champion of the Taxpayer’ by Americans for Prosperity.”

Smith’s second prayer was meant to negate the prior inclusion of atheists and nonbelievers before the legislature. He proclaimed “If you don’t love this nation and want to pledge to it, don’t say I want to lead this body in the pledge, and stand up there and say, ‘you know what, instead of pledging, I love England’ and (sit) down. That’s not a pledge, and that wasn’t a prayer, it’s that simple.”

So to recap. For a day, Arizona was celebrated around the world as a symbol of tolerance and pluralism. Smith then stepped forward to denounce such inclusion as an affront requiring repentance from the legislators. That is his legacy and the legacy of his colleagues who joined him. With religious violence and hatred sweeping the world, they wanted to be on record as rejecting the inclusion of atheists and secularists.

Source: Washington Post

28 thoughts on “Arizona Legislator Leads Colleagues In Double Prayer To Repent For Prayer By Atheist Member The Day Before”

  1. How true, Mike. Those of us that remain here just chalk it up to the intense heat beating down on the state politicians collective crainums (or is it ‘crainia’? Been here too long!).

  2. I used to live in Arizona, but I escaped. It was crazy then, it has only gotten worse.
    Let’s separate faith (what you believe) from religion (what specific rituals and practices you do). Religion is a set of rules. Faith is an open heart, caring for others, doing the right thing. Faith certainly has a place in politics – decisions should be made for the betterment of all. Religion has no place in politics because we may all differ on specifically how to do things. Most of the loudest voices on morality fail to show any shred of caring for ordinary people, let alone the most needy.
    As a person of faith I have absolutely no problem with what the atheist said to open the legislative session (though I would differ with him on the “god” question of course). We are all human and we need to remember that.

  3. Fanatical secular humanists? Any examples, Bron. Or are you acting as the resident fanatical anti-fanatic?

  4. That is his legacy and the legacy of his colleagues who joined him. With religious violence and hatred sweeping the world, they wanted to be on record as rejecting the inclusion of atheists and secularists.
    For about six weeks before I was fired they had me sequestered in an interview room in the IRS building in Milwaukee. They put a sign on the door. “Special Project.”

    That is their legacy.

  5. I know I’m mixing gambling metaphors, but – I’ll see your reasonable humanist invocation, and double-down with stupid intolerance…

  6. If Steven Smith really believes the crap he’s spewing, he should go to Iran and complain about the arrested priest.

    Anyone who wants religion in government wants theocracy. He’s an enemy of democracy and should be charged with attempting to overthrow the country.

  7. Mullahs of Iran meet Arizona State Rep. Steven Smith. Y’all share a certain creepiness of thought.

  8. That’s not prayer, it’s a empty clanging political cymbal. To use prayer to grow hatred and intolerance is not “Christian”.

  9. Most of the time when a politician uses religion it is all for show; just like those lapel pins of the flag or state seal.

    It would be more accurate if they just had a picture of themselves for a lapel pin since that is the thing they support the most.

  10. Directed group prayer shouldn’t be a part of any government sponsored activity. However, I will say that the atheist’s words are much more like what Jesus would say than those of the so-called Christian.

  11. If I were an atheist I would just chuckle and say, “Obviously it takes 2 prayers to contradict one atheist announcement.”

  12. the religion of religion vs. the religion of secular humanism, 2 peas same pod. Both think man small and feeble, incapable of existence except by the grace of God or government.

    My silent prayer is that they never figure out they are the same at their diseased, fanatical roots.

  13. Too many inmates seem to be leading the Arizona asylum. A good rule for judging ones fellow humans is that those who most loudly proclaim their piety are usually the most corrupt.

  14. religious conservative = bigot. Just like Fat Tony Scalia. Republicans continue to slide to further uselessness and will never win a national election again with such “rage” filled religious bigotry. Classic republican voter outreach fail. With no indication of change, I’m filled with joy at the prospect of republicans ostracizing themselves for the foreseeable future. In fact, I’m joining the local tea bag party, today! Now if I could somehow find a way to hate grift this republican abortion to wealth, I’d be set.

  15. Another reason why faith doesn’t belong in government. At all. Public protests, public displays, public expressions, yes. People are free to do so and should exercise that right. But doing so via public office is entirely inappropriate, because the very idea of representation rests upon inclusivity, not demonizing or willfully ostracizing entire segments of people.

    No one should be opening any governmental meeting with a prayer: that’s for private time. And while I align with the atheist’s sentiments, even he shouldn’t be able to open a meeting.

    As George Carlin comically said, “Keep thy religion to thyself.” We are free in this country to practice any myth we wish, but that’s where it ends. The imposition of anyone’s warped morality upon another is exactly what’s guarded against by our Constitution.

    Because in a secular society, religious pluralism thrives; whereas in theocracies, or in regions where the religious attempt to dominate society, only tyranny flourishes.

  16. As I read here from a posting by OS…. Don’t tell me what you believe…. Show me how you act and ill know what you believe….. Aptly put here…

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