January 12, 2018
We honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by investing time this coming weekend to make a positive difference for our communities through volunteer service (Join us!!). However, we must also honor his vision of a world where people are judged on the content of their character.
There are many Humanists, Atheists, and other secular citizens concealing their non-religious identity. Living in the glare of hate that is ignited by ignorance isn’t easy. We might fear damage to professional relationships and even impact to job security. We might fear loss of friends and family. Many feel alone, isolated, or unrepresented in our community.
Dr. King said, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. As compassionate people concerned with the well-being of others, uplifting and serving our community must include valuing and creating a world that is safe for everyone.
It is extremely important that non-religious people– and all underrepresented identities – have a voice. We are grateful to Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, a champion for his constituents, for inviting a secular invocation for the House of Representatives. As far as we know, this is the first Atheist to deliver an invocation, and the first intentionally secular invocation, for the Florida Legislature.
The invocation focused on diversity and inclusion, reminding us all that there are many identities around us whose voices are seldom heard. As Humanists, we are “concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views.” (Humanism and Its Aspirations).
All leaders of our state need to be aware that nearly a quarter of the people they represent identify as unaffiliated with a religion, and more than 1.4 million Floridians identify as Atheist or Agnostic*. This invocation was an amazing opportunity for our voice to be heard, for our existence to be noticed, and to work toward normalization of inclusion for people of all perspectives.
A special shout of gratitude to the Central Florida Freethought Community for their support and coordination. And thank you to House Chaplain Tim Perrier for his kindness and hospitality.
- Humanist and Secular Services at UCF
- BE. Orlando Humanist Fellowship
- Central Florida Freethought Community
- Florida House of Representatives
Below is the transcript of the invocation. You can watch it here: https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/1-11-18-house-session/
It is an honor to represent your Humanist, Atheist, and other non-religious constituents and colleagues with a secular invocation.
Those you serve and those around us today include people of different cultures and races, gender identities, levels of financial stability, and backgrounds. They vary in physical and cognitive abilities. They speak many languages. They include people of many faiths and non-faith perspectives. But while we are diverse, we are united by our common humanity.
The deliberations in this chamber are of the highest consequence to the people of Florida. As you work together toward solutions that address challenges facing our state, may you have the fortitude to make difficult choices while holding the needs of the diverse public at the forefront of your decisions.
As we seek to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this month, I am reminded of his words: “The time is always right to do what its right.”
May your leadership be guided by integrity and compassion to uplift all people today and every day of this legislative session.
Thank you for your service and your work today to make a positive, meaningful difference for all.