Secular Prayers

Representing Every Citizen?
Representing Every Citizen?

I was alerted to this hopeful story on The Friendly Atheist

I still don’t know why elected officials in a “free” and secular nation, have to say prayers when they meet to do their work for all of us, theist or non-theist.  But, if they really, really feel they have to. . .

Arizona State Representative Juan Mendez delivered this “invocation” last year:

Carl Sagan once wrote, “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” There is, in the political process, much to bear. In this room, let us cherish and celebrate our shared humanness, our shared capacity for reason and compassion, our shared love for the people of our state, for our Constitution, for our democracy — and let us root our policymaking process in these values that are relevant to all Arizonans regardless of religious belief or nonbelief. In gratitude and in love, in reason and in compassion, let us work together for a better Arizona.

And now, another one, Rep. Ruben Gallego said this on the floor of the legislature:

The purpose of our opening prayer is to ask for something important. I’m asking that whichever God you pray to or whichever value system inspires you, let’s stay focused on beliefs we all share — like the idea that we should do for others what we want for ourselves.

There is a version of the Golden Rule in nearly all religions and secular traditions. They all say we should treat people like we want to be treated.

Hardworking Arizonans and their families want to be treated like their state government is here for them. They want to know we’re going to fight for them. That we’re here making Arizona a place of prosperity and opportunities. Let’s practice the Golden Rule today and get to work.

Ahh, isn’t it refreshing to hear the Voice of Reason and Common Sense spoken by Elected Leaders who understand the Constitution and the meaning of Free and Secular?

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Note for further reflection:  I wonder. . .I wonder what would happen. . .I wonder if this could work, someday:

All legislative bodies (and branches of the military, prisons, etc) who desire an “Inspirational Thought for the Day,” call upon Secular Chaplains, women and men who are well-trained in various religious traditions (and well-connected to representatives of faith communities), sensitive to an array of belief systems, who will speak some inspiring words before sessions.  These same Chaplains, who have no agenda but encouraging “higher thinking,” civility, compassion, reasonable debate and wise decisions, could be available for counseling anyone and for presiding over inclusive gatherings as well as births and marriages and deaths.

I wonder if what we really need in a secular society that supports freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, is more Secular Chaplains?

Otherwise, our public institutions become little more than “mission fields” for sectarian preachers.

What do you think?

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