A Small, Simple Victory

We always hear about city councils denying atheists the right to give an invocation at meetings. Priests and rabbis? They’re fine. But atheists are often turned away.

Usually, this is a long, drawn-out battle. It’s a lot of fuss over something that’s only symbolically meaningful, but it’s awful that there are people who would refuse to give atheists that opportunity (or walk out when the atheist finally does get to speak).

In Monroe, Michigan, atheist Mark Farris attended a city council meeting. These meetings, like many others, typically begin with a prayer. Farris voiced his objection to this.

This is how MonroeNews.com described it in their notes from the meeting:

Heard still more criticism from Mr. Farris, a self-described atheist, that the city shouldn’t be praying at the start of each council meeting. He said prayers don’t belong in government meetings, but since the city was allowing them, he wanted to say an atheist prayer.

The result?

Council permitted him to do so.

That’s it.

No controversy.

No headlines.

No walkouts or arguments.

Just an atheist saying a few words.

I don’t know what the “prayer” consisted of, but Farris makes this seem so easy…

Other city councils would do well to learn a lesson. An atheist said some secular words at a meeting and the world didn’t end.

It’s just that simple.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • Willie

    I wouldn’t look at this as some huge victory. I would view this as a group of intellectual individuals who know that they do have to deal with delusional people at times, and as such let him get his rocks off. He wishes to not have prayer, so he says a prayer himself. A little nuts to me.

  • Tom in Iowa

    Sound reasonable. Except that next week they’ll be back with a (most likely) christian prayer to start the meeting.

    I think Willie is on the nose. They get some wackos asking to say the prayer and it’s easier to let them do it one week and move on. They’ll lump their token atheist into the list and continue as normal in the future.

  • Michael

    WTF is an “atheist prayer”?

  • David D.G.

    I don’t see this as a “victory” for atheists or atheism, but I will agree that it is a victory for relative civility from the religious for a change. Even that is progress of a sort.

    ~David D.G.

  • Blake

    This just happened in late February about an hour north of Monroe in Port Huron, Michigan. He was not met with the same open mind.
    http://www.thetimesherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080222/NEWS01/802220308/1002

  • Willie

    The reasons seem to be that for some reason, some people object to a Christian invocation. So then why is it that they want to deliver up an invocation of their own? Just so they can say look what I did? I stuck it to the man? Traditions are set and the majority of people in elected positions are of some religious belief. That is probably because most of them don’t go around touting their religious beliefs. What Mr. Chaudry and Mr. Farris did was make themselves look ignorant to the majority who are of religious belief and they give less credibility to everything else they say. They come off looking like nuts.