Atheists Wanted to Deliver Invocations, so the Arroyo Grande City Council Adopted a Moment of Silence Instead

Back in September, members of Atheists United San Luis Obispo (California) decided they wanted to deliver the invocation addresses in the cities of Arroyo Grande and Paso Robles.

It went well in Paso Robles, where atheist Kim McGrew delivered a speech with these lines:

Most invocations in this room begin with a request to bow your heads. I would like to ask you not to 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 working toward improving the lives of the people of our community.

Rather than bowing our heads and closing our eyes in deference, we should open our eyes widely to face the reality that confronts us, without losing sight of our ideals of what we could achieve.

Last night, faced with the reality that non-Christians may want to add themselves to the rotation and there would be no way to stop them, the council members in Arroyo Grande voted 3-2 to get rid of the invocations altogether, replacing them with a moment of silence:

AU-SLO board member David Leidner told the council that they had a “golden opportunity to ensure fairness” by ending all invocations. “This is the best option not because it favors our interests or anyone else’s,” he said, “but because it does just the opposite. It is the most neutral and inclusive position to take.”

Wow. They didn’t even have to bring in the Satanists (though they referenced them). Well done!

It may have helped that nearby Pismo Beach was on its way to losing a legal battle over their own sectarian invocation policy, ultimately deciding to settle the case and paying out about $50,000 in legal fees.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.