Linda Stephens

LindaStephensLinda Stephens
Town Board, Greece, N.Y.
Oct. 20, 2015

Good evening. I would like to thank Supervisor Reilich and the Town Board members for allowing me to deliver the invocation this evening. I am a member of Sunday Assembly Rochester, which is a secular congregation popularly known as an “atheist church.” Sunday Assembly welcomes nontheists of all stripes, including atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers and other like-minded people.

On a personal note, I am sometimes disappointed with the quality of the invocations given before the Town Board meetings, including the atheist ones. For that reason, I sought help with this one tonight. I hope you find it acceptable.

The town of Greece is a big town. Nearly 100,000 people live here, many different kinds of people. Sometimes this can present problems, but more often than not, it’s a source of our strength. Greece residents do not all think the same way or believe the same things. Yet, it is important to remember that we are all linked by our common humanity and our shared origin. When we work together to move our town forward in a spirit of mutual respect and common decency, we showcase what is best about our community, our state and our nation.
The residents of Greece have diverse beliefs. We are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, humanists, atheists, agnostics, Wiccans, pagans, Sikhs, and that’s not all. We are straight, gay and transgender. We are young and old and everything in between. We are of different races and nationalities. Some of us are liberal, some of us are conservative, and some of us are a bit of both.

It is not surprising then that we do not agree about everything. And we often feel fiercely protective of what we do believe. There is great passion in our beliefs, and rightly so.

But there is one thing on which we can all agree. We share the goal of making our community the best place it can be. We unite here this evening around that noble aim and common purpose. Thank you.

FFRF Life Member Linda Stephens, a retired public school librarian, was the atheist plaintiff in the Town of Greece v. Galloway Supreme Court decision, and with co-plaintiff Susan Galloway received FFRF’s 2014 Freethinker of the Year award. Her invocation is modeled on one developed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State for its Operation Inclusion project. Sunday Assembly Rochester is a godless congregation that meets monthly.

Freedom From Religion Foundation