Welcome to the voting page for the Nothing Fails Like Prayer Award. Below are links to twelve entries that have qualified as nominees since last year's contest. Watch the videos and select your favorite.
The Satanic Temple West Florida
Pensacola, Fla., City Council
July 14, 2016
The text of the invocation was originally written by Lucien Greaves, co-founder of The Satanic Temple. The invocation was delivered by David Suhor, a musician, activist, teacher and co-founder of The Satanic Temple West Florida.
Suhor sang it to an altered version of Albert Malotte's famous and beautiful melody for the "Lord's Prayer" (1935).
This was his fifth invocation before local elected boards. David is also a plaintiff in FFRF's lawsuit against the city of Pensacola for the exclusive display of the "Bayview Cross," a huge Latin cross in a local public park.
Let us stand now,
unbowed and unfettered
by arcane doctrines
borne of fearful minds in darkened times.
Let us embrace the Luciferian impulse
to eat of the Tree of Knowledge
and dissipate our blissful
and comforting delusions of old.
Let us demand
that individuals be judged for their concrete actions,
not their fealty to arbitrary social norms
and illusory categorizations.
Let us reason our solutions
with agnosticism in all things,
Holding fast only to that which is demonstrably true,
Let us stand firm against any and all arbitrary authority
that threatens the personal sovereignty of One or All.
That which will not bend must break,
and that which can be destroyed by truth
should never be spared its demise.
It is Done. Hail Satan.
A Two-Day Celebration for Robert Green Ingersoll
Dinner Party, Wed. Aug 10
Statue Restoration Dedication Thurs. Aug. 11
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, with our friends the Robert Green Ingersoll Memorial Committee, Peoria Secular Humanist Society, Center for Inquiry and Freethought Society, cordially invite you to attend the Peoria Park District's public dedication of the restored Robert G. Ingersoll statue:
Thursday, Aug. 11
(anniversary of Ingersoll's birth)
Glen Oak Park
Prospect Road and McClure Avenue
FFRF, thanks to many generous donors, took on the fundraising responsibilities to restore this historic 1911 statue of "the Great Agnostic" — the man called "Peoria's most famous citizen." The city plans short speeches and some refreshments Thursday morning.
Plan to meet and mingle with other Ingersoll aficionados by RSVPing to attend a private pre-dedication dinner party, taking place the night before, Wed., Aug. 10:
The Lariat Club
2232 W Glen Ave
Peoria, Illinois 61614
Robert Ingersoll, who once wrote, "A good dinner lost is gone forever," was known for his appreciation of good food. This family owned restaurant comes highly recommended by locals and has a private room.
Brief remarks will be given by FFRF Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor & Dan Barker; Jeff Ingersoll (an Ingersoll descendant) who directs the Robert Green Ingersoll Memorial Committee; Ken Hofbauer, with the Peoria Secular Humanist Society, Tom Flynn, for Center for Inquiry and Margaret Downey, for the Freethought Society.
Entertainment will include Dan Barker at the keyboard putting Ingersoll words to music, and musician Elliott Ingersoll (an Ingersoll descendant).
Individuals will order in person from a choice of 3 entrees and pay the restaurant directly. FFRF will supply complimentary cake to celebrate Ingersoll's 183rd birthday.
Because the restaurant needs an advance headcount, please RSVP by Monday, Aug. 1 if possible. (If you're not sure of your plans until after Aug. 1, RSVP no later than Monday, Aug. 8.)
Entrees include baked potato, salad, rolls, iced tea or coffee and a choice of:
Top Sirloin (gluten free), $29.19
Salmon Filet (gluten free), $32.47
Wild Mushroom Ravioli (vegetarian), $23.84
Prices above include 10.5% sales tax and 20% gratuity. You'll pay for your meal directly.
A room bloc is being held for Wed., Aug. 10 and Thursday, Aug. 11 at the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette, 501 Main St., Peoria Illinois 61602, for $129.00 plus tax through at least Wed., Aug. 20, so make plans now. The bloc will be extended as rooms are available after that date. Phone 800.228.9290 and mention "Ingersoll dedication" or use this reservation link.
The park with the statue is about a 35-minute walk from that hotel.
Mark Twain Hotel
225 NE Adams St
Peoria IL 61602
Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette
501 Main St,
Peoria, IL 61602
Hampton Inn Peoria at the River Boat Crossing
11 Winners Way
East Peoria IL 61611
Embassy Suites Hilton
100 Conference Center Drive
East Peoria IL 61611
Hope to see you there!
Martin County Board
May 3, 2016
FFRF Member Elizabeth Murad was a nun for 13 years before leaving the Catholic Church in 1971 and becoming an atheist. She lives in Florida.
On behalf of the Humanists of the Treasure Coast, I would like to thank Martin County commissioners for inviting us to deliver today's invocation.
Let's begin this and every meeting with hope, reason and compassion. Let's put aside our personal differences and work toward the greater goal of building consensus in Martin County. Let's not be swayed by personal biases as to race, gender, politics or any of the things that may divide us.
Let's seek to find areas of agreement and work from there rather than focus on our differences. Let our voices be strong but respectful.
We are a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, humanist and atheist nation of people. We are a secular nation, with plenty of room for all of us in our beliefs and convictions.
So let's avoid the pitfalls that seem to swallow up so many political bodies. Let's envision a county dedicated to the well-being of all of our citizens.
Finally, let's show the world, or at least Florida, that we can disagree without rancor, name-calling or denigration of other views.
Clark County Board
April 5, 2016
Cheryl Kolbe is the president of the Portland Area Chapter of FFRF, which she started in 2013. She first learned about FFRF from its billboard campaign in Portland in 2008 and attended her first convention in 2009 in Seattle. In 2012 she was elected an FFRF state representative.
Please be seated during this secular invocation.
Let us think about trust. Trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something.
What do the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution say about trust? Trust isn’t mentioned in the Declaration of Independence or in the Bill of Rights. Our Constitution references an office of honor, trust, or profit, a reference to executive branch positions, and trust connotes the idea of a public trust that accrues to the office holder.
Some quotes on trust:
Paulo Freire, a Brazilian educator: “The trust of the people in the leaders reflects the confidence of the leaders in the people.”
Our president, Barack Obama: “If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists — to protect them and to promote their common welfare — all else is lost.” May we treat each other with respect and courtesy. May we listen, not just to give the person their turn, but to hear and think about the value of their viewpoint. It is easier to trust people who are most like us. Yet, in government, the challenge is to build trust in your very diverse community. May we recognize that we have many varying viewpoints, and may we recognize which of those viewpoints are relevant to county business and which are not.
“In God We Trust” reflects the view of many people. Those of us, like me, who do not trust in a god or any gods, are not part of ‘we’ and have a very different view. I encourage Clark County, as you move forward, to be as inclusive as possible.
When conducting Clark County business, let us all demonstrate to each other that we are trustworthy. With trust in each other, may we build a stronger and better Clark County. Note: In February 2015 Clark County councilors voted to prominently display ‘In God We Trust’ in the main hearing room. That display is now on the wall.
Waterloo, Iowa, City Council
May 2, 2016
FFRF Member Justin Scott, also a member of the Cedar Valley Atheists and Eastern Iowa Atheists, delivered the first secular invocation in Waterloo, Iowa, City Council history. He also accepted the mayor's issuance of a "Day of Reason" proclamation for May 5, 2016, for the city. See page 19.
Thank you, mayor and council members, for this opportunity to hopefully provide an inspirational start to your meeting tonight and do so from a minority point of view. My name is Justin Scott. I am a proud atheist here in Waterloo and I stand before you all humbly representing the Cedar Valley Atheists, the Eastern Iowa Atheists and the growing and vibrant secular community across Waterloo and Iowa.
The secular community is made up of atheists, agnostics, humanists, secularists and skeptics predicated on community without the aid of the supernatural. It is also committed to defending and strengthening the separation of church and state while promoting positive non-theism and critical thinking. Regardless of the label they identify with, these are happy, compassionate and productive members of our society and I am proud to be representing them in this chamber tonight.
Tonight, as our elected officials work to make the best decisions for the city of Waterloo and the residents who call it home, instead of closing our eyes and bowing our heads in prayer, let us instead keep focused on the serious issues that our city government faces. And as our elected officials take on these issues in their thankless positions, let us all embrace the indelible words of some of the most influential freethinkers, past and present, starting with one of the leading astronomers of our time, Dr. Carl Sagan.
And I quote: Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. End quote.
Regardless of the issues that get deliberated by this body tonight and in the future, regardless of the accomplishments and shortcomings of this chamber, it's with the sentiment of Dr. Sagan's comment that this chamber should conduct its business tonight and going forward. Each of us in here and across this city is precious; no citizen is more important than any other.
Let this chamber keep in mind that with every yay or nay vote, precious lives of Waterloo citizens will be affected, hopefully for better, but some for worse. While coming to their decisions, this chamber should rely solely on reason, observation and experience, or what Robert Ingersoll, "The Great Agnostic" of the mid-1800s, referred to as the "holy trinity of science."
Let this chamber deliberate with the understanding that not everyone in the room shares the same values, the same life experiences or same religious beliefs. These differences can help to enrich these governmental tasks but only when they aren't used to limit or censor free speech, denigrate or treat certain groups as second-class citizens or promote religious belief over nonbelief or one religious belief over all the others.
Let this chamber keep in mind that, in every circumstance, the minority viewpoint is just as valuable as the majority one. The rights and dignity of all Waterloo citizens should be respected regardless of their race, gender identity, sexuality, religious belief or lack thereof, for the future and well-being of our great city is enriched only when its diversity is embraced and equality for all is held as a guiding principle. With this said, I appeal to this chamber to follow one of the many tenets of humanism that reads, "We are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating discrimination and intolerance."
Let this chamber never forget that even though their beliefs often inspire their decisions, many decisions have real-world implications so they should never be made in haste. Every decision made in this chamber should be the product of informed reason, inquiry and skepticism. As the 18th-century philosopher David Hume reminds us, "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."
Just as you've welcomed an atheist to take part in this invocation process for the first time, you are encouraged to build on tonight to make your government even more open and accessible to more people, which will help make it as inclusive as possible. Open your arms to other Waterloo citizens living in the shadows of a certain minority group; together we truly will achieve more and the experience will be much more rewarding.
In closing, I'd like to leave you with a thought from Thomas Paine, Founding Father of the United States and English-American political activist: "The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion."
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Your free trial membership entitles you to three months of FFRF’s newspaper, Freethought Today, reporting on FFRF’s activism and accomplishments on your behalf. There’s nothing to lose (FFRF holds all membership data in confidentiality) and a wealth of information to gain! Freedom depends on freethinkers.
March 22, 2016
Thank you members of the Jacksonville City Council for this opportunity to give the invocation prior to today's City Council meeting.
As I start, we've had a bad week, and I just want to remind everyone to please keep in your hearts and minds our good friends and allies in Europe — and in particular, in Belgium.
In 1903, a poem called "The New Colossus," written by Emma Lazarus, was inscribed on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the lower level of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. In part, it said:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Many people, past and present, have accepted the invitation on that bronze plaque. They come from a multitude of cultures. Some of their descendants might be in this room today.
We are gathered today, both religious and nonreligious, young and old, liberal and conservative, with the shared belief that we must treat our fellow human beings with respect and dignity, and equally important, treat each other as colleagues in the day-to-day business of living together and amongst each other.
Each of us in this room is a member of a minority in some way, whether it be a minority view related to politics, society, race, religion, or any other aspect in which we may be regarded as different. It's a very lonely feeling when you are regarded as different.
At the same time, each of us is also a part of a majority. Each of us, in some way, is a part of something big. It's when we are wearing our majority hats that we need to be most mindful of how we treat each other.
We must pledge our best efforts to help one another, and to defend the rights of all citizens of this city.
This afternoon I invoke humanity's potential to use intellect, empathy and cooperation as a way in which to make this city a great and peaceful place to coexist.
Today I also invoke the freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution, especially the First Amendment, as a compass to govern by: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech; or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble; and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
And lastly, I invoke the essence of teamwork and collaboration to help us put aside inclinations to fear each other, and instead, find common aspirations and goals where we can work together for the betterment of our city.
As a Humanist and an atheist, it is a great feeling of inclusion to be up here. It is my hope that we can find representatives of all worldviews for future invocations.
Thank you very much.
• • •
Coggins would like to give credit to the following people:
Emma Lazarus, author of the poem "The New Colossus," part of which was used in this invocation.
James Madison, author of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, all of which was used in this invocation.
Herb Silverman, part of the first paragraph of his 2006 invocation was used in this invocation.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State sample invocation for their Operation Inclusion project. Their invocation was not used, but was inspirational in creating my invocation.
Ken Hurley, for suggestions on what to include in my invocation.
Earl Coggins in the founder of First Coast Freethought Society in Jacksonville.