Huntsville, Alabama City Council begins to welcome non-traditional invocations led by an Atheist and Wiccan.
The United States of America has been called a nation built on prayer, and in many ways that is true. Religious prayers have often been held before important meetings, sporting events, and during courts; they are a key part of oaths and pledges, and have been for hundreds of years. However, in recent years the centrality of Christianity as the religion of choice has started to alter, and there is no better example of that than the City Council of Huntsville, Alabama. In the last few weeks and months they have had quite a variety of prayers at the meetings.
The beginning of each session of the Huntsville City Council traditionally begins with an invocation, or prayer, in order to bring the people there to the right state of mind. This tradition was altered slightly when Kelly McCauley gave the invocation, as he is a member of the North Alabama Freethought Association, and is an atheist. No mention of a deity was given, and there was no “Amen” at the end of the prayer. Many Christians in the community were unsure how to react to the change from a Christian minister, but they did not protest, and continued to join in with the Pledge of Allegiance after the invocation was made.
This welcoming attitude extends to belief systems beyond atheism. In the next few weeks, a Wiccan priest will take over the giving of the invocation for a day, as part of a drive to include people of more faiths other than Christianity. This prayer will be given by Blake Kirk, who was previously removed from the religious invocation schedule. He was soon replaced back in the timetable, and is apparently looking forward to the honor.
The entire invocation by Kelly McCauley is available here.