Freethought Today · April 2015

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Secular Invocations: David G. Marcus & Aleta Ledendecker

David G. Marcus, City Council, El Paso, Texas, Dec. 2, 2014

We come together today in a spirit of cooperation and compromise, respect and courtesy, calling upon the rules of civility to guide us.

As we look around this chamber, we are reminded that in our differences lie our strengths.

We are black, white, Hispanic, Asian and Native American. We are Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Humanist, Wiccan, Pagan, Atheist, Agnostic and unaffiliated.

Some of us live our lives in the certainty of our faith; others of us are still looking for answers, or have found them in our common human struggles. We are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, with and without disabilities, young and old and everything in between.

We don't all think the same way. Many of us hold very differing views on topics that are important to us. Our political views range from liberal to conservative and some of us are a bit of both.

But we all agree and know that personal beliefs, regardless of how strongly we hold them, are ours alone.

Yet, as we gather here together, we are linked by our common humanity, our shared heritage and our mutual desire to do what is best for the citizens of El Paso.
Our city has a long history of saying no to hate and bigotry, and as we move forward, we remember the difficult decisions of our former leaders. Let us continue to build on their legacy.

David Marcus is president and co-founder of Join Us for Justice, the El Paso chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and is managing partner of Marcus, Fairall, Bristol + Co., a certified public accounting firm. Join Us for Justice works "to educate the public about the dangers of faith-based legislation and the consequences of breaching the line between church and state, and to serve as a contact for those who seek information and expertise regarding separation issues."

Aleta Ledendecker, City Council, Lenoir City, Tenn.March 23, 2015

Good evening, council of Lenoir City. As I solemnize these proceedings, I want to acknowledge the service of the council members and share appreciation for their willingness to be a part of the governmental process. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who take on the burden of service.

Now, let us not bow our heads, but hold them high with eyes open.

I urge the members of the City Council to face the future with full recognition of their responsibilities to all the citizens of Lenoir City. I urge you to maintain our trust that you will recognize and serve equally the growing diversity of your constituents with favoritism toward none.

Consider the words of Pericles, the great leader of Athens, the cradle of democracy, who said, "What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others."

Thank you.

Aleta Ledendecker, FFRF Life Member and Rationalists of East Tennessee secretary, writes: "The invocation was front-page news in the Knoxville News Sentinel and Loudon County News-Herald. My next scheduled invocation will be at another heavily religious city commission (in a county where they recently put plaques of 'In God We Trust' over the courthouse entrances). I'm gearing up for that encounter."

Her husband Carl took issue with the council letting two pastors give prayers after Aleta's secular invocation. "I was disappointed. I thought that they would come in and be respectful and not try to be pushy with people but obviously [they] were pushing back."

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