George Gold

GeorgeGoldGeorge Gold
Chico City Council
Chico, Calif.
Nov. 3, 2015

“Over the past two years,” writes George Gold, “we had been petition- ing the mayor of Chico, Calif., to be included in the invocation rotation.

On Aug. 26 [2014], we received the official invocation schedule for 2015, and we were invited to deliver an invo- cation on three occasions throughout the year.”

George delivered Chico’s first-ever secular invocation in January and gave another in April.

Mr. Mayor, members of the City Council and the Chico Community:

In January 2015, I was honored to deliver the first-ever secular invocation right here at a City Council meeting. Soon after that invocation, the council adopted a new rule that all invocations must be 60 seconds or less.

A 60-second rule? Here is another first, a secular invocation haiku:

maybe no god talk
time for reason and logic
let’s go for ice cream.

FFRF member George Gold, president of Atheists of Butte County, was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, and is a computer systems engineer.


Chico City Council
Chico, Calif., Jan. 6, 2015

Good evening Mr. Mayor, members of the city council:

I’m George Gold, coordinator of the Butte County Coalition of Reason, and I’m president of the Atheists of Butte County.

Rather than bowing our heads and closing our eyes in deference, we want to encourage you to open your eyes wide to face the reality that confronts us. We should do so without losing sight of our ideals and what we might achieve.

When this body comes together to govern, you do so with the consent of the citizens of Chico, a diverse community with many different views and opinions. This eclectic community, according to the Pew Research Center, includes 20% of the population living secular lives. In the city of Chico, that means for the first time ever, I’m here representing over 17,000 secular Chico citizens with this invocation.

Humanists, nonbelievers, agnostics and atheists by their very nature believe that we have the power to solve all problems within ourselves, amongst ourselves, through science and reason, and that by applying this science and reason with the strength found in sympathy and compassion, we can overcome any hurdle we encounter.

It is incumbent upon this council to make the best decisions for the entire community. In this regard, I ask that you use wisdom, common sense and empathy in your deliberations.

In your work here, take into account the implications your decisions will have now and in the future. Be reminded of the joyous laughter of children playing in the comfort of the shade of our trees. You are planting seeds for the benefit of future generations.

When there are problems, when there is debate, let us be accountable for our own actions. Let’s not point to the shortcomings of others. Let us behave morally and judiciously.

Let’s treat each other with respect.

When we need to find wisdom, let’s look to the documents of government, the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and yes, the First Amendment, which in one sentence provides for the separation between church and state. We might even consult our city charter for direction.

Let us open our hearts to the inherent dignity and worth of each person in our community. I hope we can appreciate and realize our differences of race and religion, and or lack of religion.

In the end we are all human beings. When we bleed, we bleed one of the four basic blood groups. Regardless of race, regardless of where we live, regardless of our political affiliations, whether we are rich or poor, and yes, whether we are religious or decidedly not religious, for in every single one of us, the color of our blood is the same.

In the face of adversity, we need not look above for answers, but instead we should recognize the proven potential within ourselves and in each other to overcome the many challenges that we will face in this coming year.

Our commonalities unite us, and I hope we and you can recognize our humanity as we get ready for the challenges of this new year.

We, the secular community, want to participate in our communities with a life full of inspiration, imagination and beauty. Each of us wants to live an honorable and ethical life. We hope each of you feels the same.

Some people say, I’m just a child of the ’60s, just look at my long hair [lifts hat], oh, gone; my big black beard, oh, gone, but I suppose that it might be true. Nevertheless, my mantra has always been make love not war. Today, I guess if nothing else, I still believe — in that.

Thank you and Happy New Year.

FFRF member George Gold, born and raised in Sydney, Australia, is a computer systems engineer.

Freedom From Religion Foundation