Secular invocations: Deborah Maynard, Cheryl Kolble, Robert Ray, Bernard Drumm, Gennadiy Gurariy & Ryan Davis

We call this morning to god, goddess, universe, that which is greater than ourselves to be with us here today. By the earth that is in our bones and centers us, may all here remember our roots and those we are here to represent. By the fire that gives us light and passion, may all here remain passionate about the work that must be done for the people of Iowa. By the air that gives us breath and logic, may all here find thoughtful solutions to the problems that are presented. By the water that flows through our blood and stirs our emotions, may all here draw an emotional intelligence which helps us see the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

We call this morning to spirit ever present, to help us respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. Be with us and this legislative body and guide them to seek justice, equity and compassion in the work that is before them today. Blessed be, Aho and Amen.

Deborah Maynard, Cedar Rapids, leads the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans and is a project manager for a private company. One Republican legislator turned his back during her invocation and several others came late to avoid hearing it.
Cheryl Kolbe

Board of County Councilors, Clark County, Wash., April 7, 2015

Yamhill Board of Commissioners, Yamhill, Ore., April 16, 2015

I invite you to take your seats and join me as I invoke reason. Reason: the basis or motive for an action, decision, or conviction, good judgment, sound sense.

R — Review the facts. Facts are verifiable. Facts provide crucial support for the assertion of an argument. Let’s keep in our awareness that omission of some facts may foster misconceptions.

E — Evaluate the facts. Facts are only useful when we put them in context and draw conclusions. Albert Einstein is reported to have said, “It is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned in textbooks.”
A ­— Apply rational thinking. Poor decisions are often the result of flawed or incomplete thinking, not the absence of thinking.

S — Sometimes the best solution isn’t our personal first choice. What are the consequences of the proposed solution? Will there be a negative impact on some of the members of this community?

O — Only by looking for better ways to solve our problems will we find the best solution. Another quote widely attributed to Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

N — Never start with an assumption. An assumption is a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.

I invite residents and board members to use reason as you work together for the benefit of the community.

Cheryl Kolbe is founder and president of FFRF’s Portland-area chapter. She retired from Portland Community College in 2004 as student systems support manager for enrollment services, with responsibility for software implementation.

Robert Ray
Washington House of Representatives
April 13, 2015

I would like to open this invocation by asking everyone look around you. Beside you, in front of you and behind you, is a person that is, in so many ways, the same as you. We may have different backgrounds and beliefs. We may come from different ethnicity and religions. But when it comes down to it, we are all sharing the same speck of dust floating through a vast and wondrous universe

Many have come before me in this chamber to speak of their faith. But I would, instead, like to speak of trust. Of trust in humanity, trust in the fundamental good will within people. Trust that we all yearn to make the world a better place. Trust that some can answer to a higher calling. A calling many of us have in common, that is to serve our fellow humans to the best of our ability. I have trust that everyone in this chamber has felt this or you would not be here.

With that being said. I also ask that you use your trust in the same way that I have described. Reach out to one another. Try to understand and have empathy with those you may disagree with. Make an honest attempt at compromise, for that is what our secular government is based on.

With today being the 272nd birthday of Thomas Jefferson, I felt I should honor his memory with a quote: “He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”
So I thank you for this opportunity to bring my message of trust, humanity and humanism into this chamber.

And I will end with this simple phrase.

E Pluribus Unum.

FFRF member Robert Ray is a secular activist and humanist celebrant. He’s president of two humanist groups in northwest Washington and sits on the Humanists of Washington board of directors. In his “spare time” he works as an electrician and participates in the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Bernard Drumm, Gennadiy Gurariy, Ryan Davis

City Council, Sparks, Nev., June 8, 2015

(Invocation written by Bernard and Gennadiy and delivered by Ryan.)

I would like to thank the council for inviting me to speak here today. Let us bow our heads in prayer.

We give thanks and praise to you, whom in all your teachings, guide us in our lives and give meaning to our existence and endow these fine people here today to perform their duties to serve all of us. Thank you, Satan.

Now, I am not a Satanist, but ladies and gentlemen, I imagine that these words are making some of you rather uncomfortable. You probably feel that they don’t represent you or further the cause of the citizens of Sparks.

I would now like you to realize that this is exactly how the secular citizens of Sparks, statistically 20% of your constituents, feel when an invocation of any kind is given in this room.

I stand before you today with the daunting task of representing these numerous atheists, agnostics and secular individuals. And while it may not be possible to speak for them all, I ask you to meditate on the following thoughts:

While the desire to be inclusive and respectful to others is something to be condoned, the reality is that we cannot represent all religions, all of the time, and thus the only truly fair way to represent everyone is to not represent religion at all.

The constitution of the United States, which all members here swore an oath to uphold, was founded on secular principles and was the first of its kind. One of the cornerstones of being American is the freedom of religion and the freedom from religion. The only way to ensure that this freedom to express our beliefs is maintained is to ensure that the government does not participate in any action that would endorse any religion or even the concept of religion itself.

When religious invocations are given in a government capacity, those of us who do not subscribe to such beliefs are alienated and not represented.

For people like me who are atheist, and others who are agnostic or simply secular, we invoke you to not use religious invocations in your meetings, which only deepens the divisions between us. But rather, focus on what all of your constituents, including the secular ones share. And that is the common humanistic desire to increase the happiness of all human beings. People like me can do this without religion, and likewise, those in government can do good without religion, too.
Thank you.

Bernard Drumm is a native of the Republic of Ireland who moved to Reno for a post-doctoral position at the University of Nevada after receiving his Ph.D. in physiology in 2012.
Bernard works primarily on researching smooth muscle contraction and has a passion for teaching science. He served as outreach coordinator for UN-Reno’s Secular Student Alliance chapter and is now an organizing officer for the chapter group.

Gennadiy Gurariy completed his undergraduate degree in psychology in Ohio before moving to UN-Reno to begin a graduate degree program in cognitive neuroscience. He instigated the SSA chapter’s discussion groups and continues to lead them as well as serving as the group’s graduate president from 2013-15.

Ryan Davis is a Las Vegas native who moved to Reno in 2012 to pursue a double major in physics and mathematics. He is the chapter’s undergraduate president.

Freedom From Religion Foundation