FFRF to honor 3 at convention for secular ‘blessings’


The Freedom From Religion Foundation is pleased to announce it will be featuring the three top winners in its premiere “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” contest to spur secular activism when encountering prayer at local government board meetings.

Following the Supreme Court’s injudicious decision “blessing” sectarian prayer last spring, FFRF called on atheists, seculars and other freethinkers to ask for equal time to give secular invocations. FFRF placed videos of 14 qualifying entries on YouTube and asked the secular public to vote last week over a 72-hour period.

The three winners receive a complimentary trip to FFRF’s national convention in Los Angeles on October 24-25 to open sessions of the conference with a secular blessing. Each will also receive $500 along with a plaque.

All other entrants will receive a commemorative “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” certificate as a thank- you.

The winners are (in alphabetical order):

• FFRF member Dan Courtney, for his historic invocation before the town board in Greece, N.Y., site of the prayer litigation resulting in this year’s unfortunate Supreme Court decision. (The plaintiffs in the case, FFRF Life Member Linda Stephens and Susan Galloway, will be honored at the convention with Freethinker of the Year plaques).

• FFRF Member Tim Earl has given three secular invocations. He lives in Portage, Mich., with his wife and two daughters, ages 6 and 9.  After leaving the Navy as a lieutenant commander in 2004, Tim eventually settled in Michigan in 2006 and started work as a fire safety consultant. He’s a member of the city of Portage’s Park Board. In 2011, he asked the Portage City Council to stop prayers. The council did not agree but has invited him to present an annual secular invocation, which he has done since 2012.  

Amanda Novotny is president of Siouxland Freethinkers, East River media representative for the South Dakota Coalition of Reason and treasurer of the Brookings Freethinkers. She became an active, vocal atheist in 2011. Since then she has spent her time advocating for a secular government, working to increase the visibility of nontheists in South Dakota and promoting positive atheism.

Freethought Today, FFRF’s monthly newspaper, is also publishing the text of submissions as an ongoing feature.

The contest will continue until we persuade governmental bodies to pray on their own time and dime, or until the Supreme Court overturns its infamous Town of Greece v. Galloway ruling. New entries received from now on will be considered for the 2015 convention award.

So unbow your head, open your eyes and give your local government a piece of your secular mind! To be considered for the award, those giving secular invocations must officially enter the contest, supply a video and text of their remarks.

Read the contest rules here.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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