On May 5, 2014, we reported on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway, which ruled that religious prayer before government meetings did not violate the Establishment Clause to the U.S. Constitution. Last week, the Town of Greece opened its board meeting for the first time ever with a secular invocation given by an atheist, Dan Courtney. Mr. Courtney used the Declaration of Independence as inspiration for his invocation in which he stated:
We, as citizens, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega of our destiny, are not, as the great philosopher Immanuel Kant warned, mere means to the ends of another, but we are ends in ourselves (watch Mr. Courtney deliver the invocation here).
Since the Town of Greece decision, the American Humanist Association has launched a program to encourage humanists and others who are non-religious to request the opportunity to lead secular invocations, which they explain are “short speech[es] that solemnize a meeting or event by appealing to the audience’s shared human values instead of a deity.” Read more here.
There have been several other notable reports involving local governments and invocation requests since the Supreme Court’s decision. Here are some highlights:
- As previously reported, a Florida Satanist requests the opportunity to offer a Satanist prayer before a town council meeting in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Read more here.
- Huntsville, Alabama City Council revokes Wiccan priest’s invitation to open meeting with religious prayer. Read more here.
- City council meeting in Portsmouth, Virginia opens with first ever Hindu blessing in Sanskrit. Read more here.
- Chesterfield, Virginia asked to rescind policy of permitting only “ordained religious leaders of monotheistic religions” to deliver invocations at board meetings. Read more here.
- The Rowlett chapter of the Metroplex Atheists seeks to lead a secular invocation before the Rowlett City Council in Rowlett, Texas. Read more here.