Good morning. I am Tom Waddell, president of the Maine Chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Thank you all for the personal sacrifices each of you have made to be a member of the Maine House. Your personal commitment to Maine's future is much appreciated. And thank you for the opportunity to give the first of many inspiring secular invocations to the Maine House. Traditionally, invocations have served to encourage lawmakers to put aside political differences and, under the guidance of a "higher power," work together for the common goal of making Maine a better place for all of its citizens.
This secular invocation will be no different, but I will not ask you to bow your heads to a "higher power." Instead, I ask you to look around at the learned men and women assembled here today, and rely on your collective character, honesty and integrity for guidance in making decisions that fulfill the intent of the Maine Constitution, specifically "to promote our common welfare."
Every member here was elected to represent the interests of a diverse community in terms of age, socioeconomic status, race, sexual orientation, gender identity and religious beliefs or secular principles. Representing diverse constituents requires one to be truly inclusive and tolerant. All of your constituents want the same things: economic opportunity, decent housing, good schools and a healthcare system that meets the needs of all people living in Maine. We never argue about these common goals, what we argue about is the strategy we use to attain them.
I ask you then to put aside any personal and political differences in these divisive times and to work together for the benefit of Maine as a whole. I ask you to use facts, reason and logic, tempered with compassion and empathy, in making your decisions, today and every day. I ask you to discard partisan dogma and to weigh, without bias, the merits of the various proposals being made, and to refrain from denigrating persons with whom you may disagree.
Finally, in the words of a Buddhist homily; "May (you) become at all times, both now and forever; A protector for those without protection; A guide for those who have lost their way; A ship for those with oceans to cross; A bridge for those with rivers to cross; A sanctuary for those in danger; A lamp for those without light; A place of refuge for those who lack shelter; And a servant to all those in need."
Tom Waddell, president of FFRF Maine, writes: "I wrote part of and delivered the secular invocation to the Maine House, but it was Ron Lewis from FFRF Maine who was largely responsible for the final version, especially the Buddhist homily. Thanks, Ron, for making me sound good. I also want to thank Rep. Kent Ackley for nominating me to give the secular invocation and for that request to be granted as a matter of course. So many people in other states had a much more difficult time. Thank you, Maine."