Andrew Lovley Explains His Secular Invocation Speech

Back in December, the founder of the Southern Maine Association of Secular Humanists (SMASH), Andrew Lovley, delivered a secular invocation for Tom Coward, the new mayor of South Portland, Maine.

There was a little bit of backlash from the secular community — some people objected to the very idea of invocations in the first place and didn’t like that Andrew gave a speech at all.

At the recent Secular Student Alliance New England Leadership Summit, Andrew spoke about how he was chosen to deliver the invocation as well as his responses to the backlash.

My favorite bit comes at 20:45 :)

Once you watch the speech, you can tell why Andrew was chosen. He’s a terrific representative of the Humanist community.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    I thought it was interesting that the attending minister (who had given invocations there before) agreed with the values but thought the invocation should of had some component of deferring to some other power. I’m curious that if humanists give invocations and if there is an expectation on including a “deferring to another power” component, what would humanists include?

    I would suggest a call to the study of history and not to live in a bubble of only like-minded individuals (all too common among political figures). I think that would be an excellent and appropriate “deferring to others” where one doesn’t make all decisions by oneself (in a vacuum).

    At the same time, ultimately, as Truman used to say “the buck stops here”. That is why I wouldn’t make a reference to a HIGHER power.

  • http://teapotatheism.blogspot.com Chris Ray

    I knew Andrew BEFORE he was famous!

  • tom coward

    Thanks Hemant for continuing to feature Andrew Lovely. He is a fine representative of Humanism, and I hope this is only the beginning of his career.

    One questioner (you flagged this moment at 20:45) makes the point that an elected public official (that would be me) took a risk to choose to have a Humanist deliver the invocation. In fairness to my community, I would stress that it was not as much of a risk as you might expect, as we are generally a very liberal community. The religious right is largely marginalized, and the City also overwhelmingly supports such positions as marriage equality. That being said, I did have a little bit of concern, as I wanted the inaugural to go smoothly and to be inclusive rather than devisive. I did discuss this with Andrew early on, and suggested to him that I didn’t want this to be a protest or an attack on religious believers. I needn’t have worried on this point, as he really is a lovely person and didn’t need me to make this suggestion to him.

    Personally, there has been a little ongoing comment, mostly positive, except for one attack by a local right wing radio commentator who trotted out the old and tired Humanism=Atheism=Communism trope.


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