When I think of Cobb County in Georgia, the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that, in 2005, school officials put stickers inside the Biology textbooks that read, “evolution is only a theory.”
But now I can think of something more pleasant.
On Tuesday night, American Atheists President Ed Buckner delivered the invocation in front of the Board of Commissioners.
But first, the Board Chairman Sam Olens issued a disclaimer basically saying Buckner was only allowed to speak because the rules allowed anybody who signed up to be able to speak. (Read: Not because anyone wanted him there.)
During the speech, Buckner mentioned that church and state ought to be separate and implored the Cobb County board to do away with invocations altogether.
You can watch a video of the speech by clicking here.
Olens, of course, became all offended:
“Did I find his comments repugnant and insulting? Yes,” Olens said. “He abused the process by giving an opinion … rather than providing inspiration.”
Olens said the county received an E-mail from Buckner requesting to do an invocation, and allowed it because of First Amendment laws.
“Had I stopped him before he started, he then would’ve had a federal action against the county,” Olens said. “That’s the price you pay for being American.”
And what’s with that last line: “That’s the price you pay for being American”?
I’ve used this line before, but you would never have heard that comment being made if a Jew or Hindu had delivered the invocation. It’s offensive and sadly under-reported.
What did Buckner say that inspired so much outrage?
Rather than any form of deity, [Buckner] invoked “the 700,000 people who live in this county — especially the majority (yes, over half) of those 700,000 who are not members of any church, mosque, temple, or other religious organization,” he said.
“I speak as well for those political leaders who despair that success in politics cannot be achieved without hypocritical piety from politicians and who would prefer to run for office and to govern based on competence and political philosophy rather than on beliefs, real or pretended, in any supernatural beings.”
“Join me in asking Cobb County to stop having invocations,” he said.
Again, you can watch the video here like I did.
I’d love to know why Ed’s speech was an “abuse” of the process. What he said was non-sectarian and could’ve been said by any religious leader as well.
By the way, immediately after Ed finished his speech, the Board members stood up to recite the Pledge of Allegiance (how’s that for irony?).
In the video, they focus on Ed during the “Under God” bit. He says something (maybe it’s not “Under God”?) but I can’t make out what it is.
(Thanks to Clayton for the link!)