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happy atheist

Atheism in Arizona House of Representatives - Merge

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happy atheist

http://gawker.com/az-lawmaker-in-charge ... -509260007

 

Juan Mendez was put in charge of the opening prayer for the Arizona House of Representatives yesterday. Turns out he's an atheist. He delivered a lovely speech.

 

 

Quote
This room in which there are many challenging debates, many moments of tension, of ideological division, of frustration. But this is also a room where, as my Secular Humanist tradition stresses, by the very fact of being human, we have much more in common than we have differences. We share the same spectrum of potential for care, for compassion, for fear, for joy, for love.

 

Carl Sagan once wrote, “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.� There is, in the political process, much to bear. In this room, let us cherish and celebrate our shared humanness, our shared capacity for reason and compassion, our shared love for the people of our state, for our Constitution and for our democracy - and let us root our policymaking process in these values that are relevant to all Arizonans regardless of religious belief or nonbelief. In gratitude and in love, in reason and in compassion, let us work together for a better Arizona.

I think we can all agree that the world would really appreciate a better Arizona.

Edited by OnceUponATime
adding tags

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Sass

I was super happy to see this! There have been many embarrassing trainwrecks in AZ over the last several years, but finally here's some good news.

*side note- I was in young dems with this guy and he is super nice :)

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Aggravated
keen23

Occasionally, my adopted home state gives me a reason not to hate living here. This is one of them. But, yeah, we're still pretty much in the social policy dark ages.

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sparkles

That's awesome. Wanna bet some jackass is gonna whine about it?

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Depressed
Loveday
That's awesome. Wanna bet some jackass is gonna whine about it?

I'd take you up on that bet but I'd lose. :lol:

As a Christian (of the Catholic, non-fundy, often misses mass variety), I think his words were beautiful. :clap:

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happy atheist

I imagine he'll take all kinds of shit for it, which is ridiculous. If you (the general you) put aside your knee-jerk reaction to the idea of atheism and actually listen to what he said, I don't think there's anything there that would offend anyone. For some reason, the idea that a person could think those thoughts and feel that way without the threat of damnation does not compute for a lot of people.

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YPestis

There's an article about an incident at the AZ House when an atheist in the House led a prayer:

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2013/05 ... ml?hp&_r=0

(not breaking link because it's a newspaper).

Republican Rep. Steve Smith on Wednesday said the prayer offered by Democratic Rep. Juan Mendez of Tempe at the beginning of the previous day's floor session wasn't a prayer at all. So he asked other members to join him in a second daily prayer in "repentance," and about half the 60-member body did so. Both the Arizona House and Senate begin their sessions with a prayer and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

...

"That's not a pledge, and that wasn't a prayer, it's that simple," Smith said.

Mendez said he was just looking for a way to convey his own feelings like other members do when they take the rotation giving the daily prayer.

"I wanted to find a way to where I could convey some message and take advantage of the opportunity that people have when they offer these prayers," he said. "If my lack of religion doesn't give me the same opportunity to engage in this platform then I feel kind of disenfranchised. So I did want to stand up and offer some kind of thing that represented my view on what's going on."

....

Mendez gave the invocation Tuesday while members of the Secular Coalition for Arizona were in the visitors' gallery. He began his remarks by asking fellow lawmakers not to bow their heads but to instead look around at the other men and women in the room, "sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people of our state."

I posted quotes from the article in case some can't get through the Time's pay wall (although you should, given the link is from an outside source).

My feeling on the issue is this. When it comes to religion (or lack thereof), you can either ban it all from public view, or welcome all. It's unconstitutional (in my limited legal knowledge) to selectively favor one belief over another. I'm guessing the AZ House allows lawmakers to take turns leading prayers. When it came to an atheist's turn, he choose to ask people to reflect on each other, rather than include a deity. I think that's a fair thing to ask, if we are to respect each others' beliefs. However, this appears to offend some people.

Frankly, I find the prayer "re-do" extremely rude and very unChristian-like. You want to show what a great Christian you are? Don't publicly disparage someone else' belief system. I don't remember Jesus said his followers should make grand gestures of how pious they are....or to be a douche about it.

How would this Smith guy feel if someone decided his prayer was not really "heartfelt", or his religion is not a "real" religion? Golden rule still applies, even when you are the dominant religion. Funny thing is, if a nonChristian decided to do this to someone Christian, there would be shouts of "persecution" from all those fundies....and yet fundies are probably pumping their fists up in excitement that someone "stood up" for their beliefs.

Another issue I have is that given we live in a plural society, we can't stomp on someone else' belief because we don't agree with it. I guess it's still ok to disparage an atheist's belief, because it's not considered worthy of respect. Is that the type of Christ-love some Christians want to show nonbelievers? How does a good Christian expect to convince an atheist of the superiority of their religion if they can't offer a simple respect and acknowledgement of the atheist's belief?

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sparkles

In the earlier thread I asked if anyone wanted to bet that someone would start whining about this and sure enough... Like anyone didn't think it would happen. :roll:

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Happy
PennySycamore

This might make a good thread on its on, but Pope Francis just said in a sermon that even atheists will end up in Heaven if they're good. Rep. Smith might want to take his atheist bashing up with the leader of the Catholic Church, the Vicar of Christ here on Earth.

As an ex-Catholic atheist, I don't care for myself, but some of my family might be reassured.

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crazyforkate

Why am I not surprised? Would he do this with a representative of another faith (say, Islam)? What makes atheists so threatening that you immediately have to reassure everyone that their faith is still okay? I thought the first guy was really respectful, unlike Douchebag McGee here.

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mlady

Doesn't this just prove the point that religion needs to stay out of the public arena? It's NOT inclusive and obviously Christians feel the sting when it's not done their way so why the hell are we doing it at all????? I think this was a very telling moment to be honest. I hope more people are paying attention to it.

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