Should Atheist Prayers Lead City Council Meetings?
- By Kyle Glatz --
- 10 Jul 2014 --
In light of a recent Supreme Court decision, some are leading campaigns to hold Atheist prayers at the start of city council meetings.
In recent years there has been a great deal of tension as a result of factions trying to have Atheist prayers removed from the invocation at public events. While numerous courts have upheld the rights of religious individuals to use an invocation prayer, Atheists have been looking into reciprocation in the eyes of the law. After all, they believe that it is only proper that a secular invocation be offered for those individuals who are not religious.
The Town of Greece vs. Galloway Decision
The Town of Greece vs. Galloway was a case that was heard by the Supreme Court that examined the first amendment in two regards. First, the Atheists responsible for the case wanted to put an end to prayers at the beginning of town hall meetings because they were infusing government functions with religion. While the Supreme Court held that they were within their rights to have religious prayers during invocations, they also ruled that it was the right of Atheists to offer a secularized invocation. The Atheist prayers are limited in the same way that Christian prayers are limited: There can be no attempt to convert others or coerce others into the “prayer” and it cannot demean other religions. This has successfully promoted diversity, at least in the case of Greece, as they will host an Atheist invocation soon.
The Implementation Of The SCOTUS Decision
Another group in the town of Rowlett would like the ruling on the case in Greece to apply to their town. Randy Word, the president of Metroplex Atheists, says that Atheists have always been made to feel like second class citizens; a fact that is compounded by the location in the heart of Texas. He says that allowing Atheists the ability to offer a form of prayers in the beginning of town meetings would show that all citizens are being considered.
While this has not resulted in a case to be put before the courts as of yet, the Atheists have not ruled out legal action in order to see that their rights are upheld. The resistance that is being put forth to stop a secular or humanist invocation from occurring is driven by the perception that Atheists are attempting to somehow infringe upon the rights of religious individuals. The Center for Religious Liberty has interpreted the Greece vs. Galloway decision as an affirmation of religion in public life, while other critics of the Atheist movement have said that their prayers offer nothing to those in attendance.
What Do Atheist Prayers Look like?
Surprisingly, one example of an Atheist prayer appears to be remarkably similar to that offered by Christians. They say that they wish to strive for success each day without causing harm to others, and want to be a good person without the promise of a reward in the present or future. While court intervention in the case of Rowlett has not appeared on any docket, it seems that Atheist prayers are moving forward with their demands and are looking for community support. Right now, it appears that while the message offered by the Christians and Atheists is similar, the differences in doctrine will continue to keep them at odds.