Colorado Atheists Speak at City Council Meeting: Victory?

They usually start city council meetings in Grand Junction, Colorado with Christian prayers.

That’s not just “bothersome,” as one news article notes. It’s illegal and it needs to stop.

At least the Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers are trying to get their message included in the mix. They’ll get a chance to speak before the January 3rd meeting.

“They offend some people because for decades, they’ve been primarily Christian based prayers mostly mentioning the name of Jesus Christ. And if you don’t happen to be Christian, you are essentially forced intro a prayer session against your will, even though you’re there to get a sewer permit or whatever,” Anne Landman, with Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers said.

This is a perfect example of when Interfaith practices go wrong.

It’s not good enough for city councils to allow people of any faith (and no faith) to give invocations. They need to stop doing them, period. I’m glad atheists sometimes get thrown into the shuffle but I’d much rather see lawsuits thrown at the city councils. They’re more effective and they get right to the heart of the problem.

I also have yet to hear about a city council that does an “all-inclusive” invocation where non-Christians speak just as often as the Christian ones. It always seems to be Christian, Christian, Christian, okay-we’ll-throw-a-bone-your-way-for-a-week, Christian, Christian, Christian.

  • Troglodyke

    This is one of those areas where even moderate Xtians sometimes wonder why we atheists make such a fuss. “It’s ONE MINUTE! You can ignore it.”

    What they don’t understand is that it’s the POINT. How many more concessions to Xtianity will nonbelievers have to make? Am I “offended” by these prayers? Not on the surface; I’d just ignore them.

    But I do find it offensive that so many people simply do not understand why we have such a problem with them. They think it’s the prayer itself. It’s not. I couldn’t care less what the words say. They are meaningless to me.

    It’s the belief that we are easily offended, weak, and crybabies because we protest this activity (they conveniently forget that it’s ILLEGAL). It’s the belief that we should just shut up and deal with it, but they don’t really understand that we already DO this with so many things every single day.

    I don’t complain about most of those things, but I am starting to stand up and protest more. Give ‘em an inch, and, well, they already have taken multiple miles. They seem to think they own the miles.

  • Richard Wade

    Here’s an idea:

    Add up every cost of running the city council meeting. The rent or mortgage on the building, the several insurance policies, the building maintenance, the rent and maintenance of all the equipment, the utilities, the internet service, the paper and supplies consumed during the meeting, the salaries of everyone who is working in the building during the time of the meeting, from the janitor to the secretaries to the Council Persons up to the Mayor.

    Distill that huge sum down to dollars per second. Multiply that by the number of seconds each invocation takes, and present the city council with a bill for the tax money illegally wasted on praying to invisible beings, to be rebated equally back to every taxpayer of Grand Junction. They paid for the city to get business done, not to say magic words to garner the favor of spooks.

  • tim

    Have those same lawmakers visit a ball game in or a committee hearing in Hawaii which are frequently opened up with a Buddhist monk reciting a prayer. They usually come around real fast. Of course that assumes these lawmakers leave their country more than once in their lifetimes.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ChristopherTK ChristopherTK

    This will not stop until the courts are involved more thoroughly. Government bodies that allow and encourage religious practices must be forced to suffer financially; too many have proven incapable or unwilling to use correct judgment on their own.

  • AnonymousSM

    I don’t even get why they think they’re useful. I don’t care if it’s cross-denominational or whatever, there’s no point to it. As you pointed out, people go there for local city concerns and projects like speed bumps and parking, etc. It doesn’t concern religion at all and seems like a throw back to old times when everything had to be blessed or sacrificed or we’d receive a bad crop. It’s like if a football coach decided to talk a few minutes before the game about the geologic rock density of the Rockies… “hey coach, how does that have ANY relevance to what we’re doing?” Sad thing is that it took me a couple minutes to come up with something random enough to rival prayer at a gov’t meeting, lol.

  • http://thingsfindothinks.com AndrewFinden

    “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” – Jesus.

    If a counsellor wants to pray for wisdom, guidance etc. then no one is stopping them from doing that privately ‘in their room’ before the meeting.

    It seems the thing we Christians need to learn is that we’re not necessarily the cultural majority anymore. We could learn a lot from the Church pre-Constantine in that regard.

  • http://www.atheistattorney.com AtheistAttorney

    This issue crops up again and again. I’ll try to get something together on it. It seems to generally run counter to secular governance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 Donna Hamel (muggle)

    I also have yet to hear about a city council that does an “all-inclusive” invocation where non-Christians speak just as often as the Christian ones. It always seems to be Christian, Christian, Christian, okay-we’ll-throw-a-bone-your-way-for-a-week, Christian, Christian, Christian.

    That’s because it’s a farce designed to circumvent the law. It’s not the prayer itself; it’s the religious bullying. Well, okay, I do find the prayer offensive but I do because it’s being used to bully by forcing it on me. Also, as Andrew points out, it’s massively hypocritical.

    Even when it is kept strictly nondenominational as the courts have thus far ruled, there’s still the god as you perceive him threat and the fact that the lineup is rather like you quote almost always there’s a subtle implication that it better be the Christian god.

    These courts that are ruling god is okay as long a specific god isn’t mentioned really make no sense to me when the Supreme Court has interpreted that government endorsement isn’t supposed to favor not only any one religion over another but religion itself over irreligion.

    Also, what is with the endless attitudes that no mention of god is opposing god. No, opposing god would be to stand up and say god belief is stupid or this is one nation under no god. I’d be the first to rise up and say no, you can’t do that.

    I wonder if these religious bullies (I know a lot of moderate, libral Christians do; hence, one reason why they are moderate, liberal) ever stop to think that it makes their god look even less believable when they act like he’s got to be defended against mere mortals.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    Muggle,

    opposing god would be to stand up and say god belief is stupid or this is one nation under no god.

    Maybe that is what it will take for them to see what they are doing is offensive as well as illegal. An invocation denouncing gods as make believe nonsense. That or sacrificing a goat to the volcano god*. The uproar that could ensue might well get all pre-meeting invocations banned.

    *Please don’t sacrifice a goat. I like goats, especially the ones that perch in trees. Oh and the volcano god hates the site of blood so it wouldn’t appease him anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 Donna Hamel (muggle)

    Sadly, hoverfrog, it wouldn’t work. When Jesse Ventura was governor of Minnesota and garnered national attention calling religion things I’ve been known to also call it (in other words, I agreed 100% with him) and I protested he shouldn’t be using his public office to say god is a crutch for the weak, all I got was blank stares and shocked stammers of “but he’s Atheist like you” and totally stunned them into silence when I’d reply, he’s still got no right to use his public office to knock god belief.

    And that’s what I got from believers. You don’t even want to know some of the flak I got from other nonbelievers for saying that! Ah, America, such a great place to live. I should migrated back across the pond when I was young and healthy enough to make a go of it. Oh, well. I’m stuck with it now that I’ve a child and grandchild here.

  • Todd

    It seems the thing we Christians need to learn is that we’re not necessarily the cultural majority anymore. We could learn a lot from the Church pre-Constantine in that regard. AndrewFinden

    Actually Christians are the majority, but regardless of that, I think you’ve missed the point altogether. Prayer at public meetings is NOT about majority rule. It’s illegal! The constitutional protection is for indiviuals, not majorities or groups. The invocations at public meetings, regardless of the denomination, violate the rights of not just every individual in attendance, but of every taxpayer of that community. Prayer may be done for free at home or in any church, but the taxpayers should not be paying for government to pray. Period. It really has nothing to do with city business.


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