Atheist State Lawmaker Quotes Carl Sagan Instead of Doing Prayer Before House Session

Categories: Religulous
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State Representative Juan Mendez
An atheist state lawmaker tasked with delivering the opening prayer for this afternoon's session of the House of Representatives asked that people not bow their heads.

Democratic Representative Juan Mendez, of Tempe, instead spoke about his "secular humanist tradition" and even quoted author Carl Sagan.

"Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads," Mendez said. "I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state."

Click here to watch the video of Mendez's invocation.

As you can imagine -- especially now, with Arizona's legislature being controlled by religion-heavy Republicans -- this is probably the first time that an invocation at the legislature took that direction.

"This is a room in which there are many challenging debates, many moments of tension, of ideological division, of frustration," Mendez said. "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.

Mendez continued, "Carl Sagan once wrote, 'For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.'"

There certainly aren't many openly atheist politicians across the country, let alone folks bringing their lack of belief in God and/or gods to prayer time. You may remember some controversy about Democratic Congressman Kyrsten Sinema, who has been described as the only atheist in Congress, even though she rejects the label of "atheist." (Perhaps it's a coincidence, but many of Mendez's constituents also call Sinema their Congresswoman.)

Mendez, in addition to his God-free invocation, also introduced members of the Secular Coalition for Arizona, sitting in the House gallery. One of the members said she was "witnessing history."

After the invocation, Mendez called himself one of just one of 1.3 million Arizonans not affiliated with a religious tradition or organization.

"I hope today marks the beginning of a new era in which Arizona's non believers can feel as welcome and valued here as believers," he said.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.




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516 comments
slrman
slrman

Opening a government session with any prayer at all is a violation of church and state.  Given the ignorance and "don;' care about the law" attitude of most of Arizona, I am not surprised.  

Good on this guy for having some testicular fortitude.

tesmith47
tesmith47

this guy is a glowing example

bravo!!!

nasuno.mobile
nasuno.mobile

It seems possible that there will  be a time in which the majority of congress are athiest. One can only hope this will not take too long.

obarryon
obarryon

This is wonderful! Someone speaking for the 16% of Americans with "no religious affiliation" (Pew Research Center). That's about 50 million people, by the way, most of whom are regularly offended by the blatant disregard for the First Amendment shown by governmental bodies giving credence to religious nonsense.

And to those, usually Christian, people who are offended by this lawmaker, that is the sort of reaction we have just about every day to your behavior.

Sindi Stack
Sindi Stack

Why would anyone permit an athiest to lead the prayer? That is sacreligious. This never should have happened. Let a Christian lead prayer and not some stupid athiest. I just can't believe this. What is our world coming to? I would like to wipe that smug smile right off of his stupid looking face. Someone should have shut him up immediately if they knew he was athiest.

Joe Kennedy
Joe Kennedy

Good for him, we need to get this notion that this is a "Christian" nation out of government.

Jeff Ramon
Jeff Ramon

Sure as soon as we remove science and state too.

Nicole Goard
Nicole Goard

I love Carl Sagan's work...he was a remarkable philosopher, scientist, and humanitarian. (Also...don't we have a separation of Church and State already? Hmmm...)

oliver.peter7
oliver.peter7

Jefferson’s religious beliefs and spiritual beliefs were a combination of various religious and theological precepts. Around 1764, Jefferson lost faith in conventional religion , after he tested the bible for historical accuracy, rather he adopted a stern code of personal moral conduct and drew inspiritation from classical literature. While he embraced various Christian principles he rejected orthodox Christianity of his day and was especially hostile to the Catholic Church as he saw it operate in France. Throughout his life Jefferson was intensely interested in theology, biblical study, and morality. As a landowner he played a role in governing his local Episcopal Church (The Episcopal Church describes itself as being "Protestant, yet Catholic."[5]) In 2010, the Episcopal Church had a baptized membership of 2,125,012 both inside and outside the United States. In the U.S., it had a baptized membership of 1,951,907, making it the nation's 14th largest denomination) in terms of belief he was inclined toward Deism an the more philosophy of Christianity, though when he was at home he attended the Episcopal church and raised his daughters in that faith.

Deism (i/ˈd.ɪzəm/[1][2] or /ˈd.ɪzəm/) is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of God, accompanied with the rejection of revelation and authority as a source of religious knowledge.[3][4][5][6][7] Deism gained prominence in the 17th and 18th centuries during the Age of Enlightenment—especially in Britain, France, Germany and America—among intellectuals raised as Christians who believed in one god, but found fault with organized religion and could not believe in supernatural events such as miracles, the inerrancy of scriptures, or the Trinity.[8]

Deism is derived from deus, the Latin word for god. The earliest known usage in print of the English term deist is 1621,[9] and deism is first found in a 1675 dictionary.[10][11] Deistic ideas influenced several leaders of the American and French Revolutions.[12] Two main forms of deism currently exist: classical deism and modern deism.[13]

Deism is related to naturalism because it credits the formation of life and the universe to a higher power, using only natural processes. Deism may also include a spiritual element, involving experiences of God and nature.[17]

Though deists rejected atheism,[14] they often were called "atheists" by more traditional theists.

Both [theists and Deists] asserted belief in one supreme God, the Creator... and agreed that God is personal and distinct from the world. But the theist taught that God remained actively interested in and operative in the world which he had made, whereas the Deist maintained that God endowed the world at creation with self-sustaining and self-acting powers and then abandoned it to the operation of these powers acting as second causes.

Karl Larson
Karl Larson

well. .I just got an old Linda Ronstadt CD at a yard sale. .

Dan Washuk
Dan Washuk

Hi Karl......Just when you thought Arizona had nothing socially redeemable..!!!

Alyssa Vetter
Alyssa Vetter

Maybe if we had more like him in our legislatures, a lot more would be accomplished. There wouldn't be that other religious agenda always clouding issues! He's a brave man to go in the face of the rabid religiousness going on today!!

XJS GUY
XJS GUY

god(s) and religions were invented by those males who sought to control others, especially women and others who they deem their lessers.

In other words, religion was invented when the first fool met the first charlatan.


Amazing, isn't it, that they are against every normal human function, desire and etc while Lot is in the cave having fun with his daughters? Yet, filth like that is ok with them.

Ah, well. At least their priest stay away from the girls;~)


slrman
slrman

Stupid atheist?  All the reports shows exactly the opposite.  It's your religious people who are low IQ, criminals.  97% of the people in prison in the USA identify as christians.   Ironically, 97% of the National Academy of Science  identify as atheist or agnostic. 


Awkward moment for you. Those are facts and you religious reich people hate facts.  They never support your favorite delusions.


You are liars, hypocrites and fools.

unrestrained72
unrestrained72

@Sindi Stack How about a Hindu leading the prayer?  Would that be alright?

tesmith47
tesmith47

@Sindi Stack defensive about your imaginary god

Itarion
Itarion

@Sindi Stack You will notice, I hope, that the words he spoke in no way qualified as a prayer. 

metal_maniac1820
metal_maniac1820

The legislature of a state is a secular place where laws are passed and religion has no power. It's everyone's righ to give an invocation there be it Christian, Mormon, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, Pastafarian. It's the first amendment, you know... Free speech? I don't even live in your nation and I know that better than you do.

GoodWithoutGod
GoodWithoutGod

@Sindi Stack Hahahahaha, you are an absolute moron.

justin1217
justin1217

@Sindi Stack Right, people shouldn't be praying as a use of my tax dollars. It shouldn't have happened.

How can you not believe this happened when there is a video of it happening, but still believe in a magic sky fairy with no evidence whatsoever? It really does blow my mind.

cdickenson64
cdickenson64

@Sindi Stack Separation of church and state.... Ever heard that? It means religion should take no part in government actions. 

Besides the man has a voice and is entitled to speak his view. He is also an ELECTED representative. 


justus_megan
justus_megan

@Sindi Stack You are the typical Christian. We all see you for what you are, and I am sure your God does too. 

unrestrained72
unrestrained72

@Jeff Ramon Because demonstrable, repeatable evidence (science) is no more valuable than laughably primitive myths which aren't supported by evidence.

Itarion
Itarion

@Jeff Ramon We'll remove science from the state as soon as you can prove it doesn't work.

metal_maniac1820
metal_maniac1820

That's ridiculous and makes no sense. Science has nothing to do with politics. The US constitution mandates separation of church and state. Your founding fathers would be disgusted with the religious right. They rebelled to get out of oppression by the religious

slrman
slrman

Obviously, you don't care.  Facts, independently verifiable evidence, and common sense have no place in your willfully ignorant life, do they?  No surprise there.  All of those are fatal to any religion.

Itarion
Itarion

@Jeff Ramon A significant minority of nonreligious persons.

justus_megan
justus_megan

@Nicole Goard The article states that each session is started with prayer, your last comment is invalid. 

tesmith47
tesmith47

@oliver.peter7in terms of belief he was inclined toward Deism an the more philosophy of Christianity, though when he was at home he attended the Episcopal church and raised his daughters in that faith.   WHEN HE WAS NOT RAPING THE SLAVE WOMEN

oliver.peter7
oliver.peter7

@randiebobandy

Jefferson’s religious beliefs and spiritual beliefs were a combination of various religious and theological precepts. Around 1764, Jefferson lost faith in conventional religion , after he tested the bible for historical accuracy, rather he adopted a stern code of personal moral conduct and drew inspiritation from classical literature. While he embraced various Christian principles he rejected orthodox Christianity of his day and was especially hostile to the Catholic Church as he saw it operate in France. Throughout his life Jefferson was intensely interested in theology, biblical study, and morality. As a landowner he played a role in governing his local Episcopal Church (The Episcopal Church describes itself as being "Protestant, yet Catholic."[5]) In 2010, the Episcopal Church had a baptized membership of 2,125,012 both inside and outside the United States. In the U.S., it had a baptized membership of 1,951,907, making it the nation's 14th largest denomination) in terms of belief he was inclined toward Deism an the more philosophy of Christianity, though when he was at home he attended the Episcopal church and raised his daughters in that faith.

Deism (i/ˈd.ɪzəm/[1][2] or /ˈd.ɪzəm/) is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of God, accompanied with the rejection of revelation and authority as a source of religious knowledge.[3][4][5][6][7] Deism gained prominence in the 17th and 18th centuries during the Age of Enlightenment—especially in Britain, France, Germany and America—among intellectuals raised as Christians who believed in one god, but found fault with organized religion and could not believe in supernatural events such as miracles, the inerrancy of scriptures, or the Trinity.[8]

Deism is derived from deus, the Latin word for god. The earliest known usage in print of the English term deist is 1621,[9] and deism is first found in a 1675 dictionary.[10][11] Deistic ideas influenced several leaders of the American and French Revolutions.[12] Two main forms of deism currently exist: classical deism and modern deism.[13]

Deism is related to naturalism because it credits the formation of life and the universe to a higher power, using only natural processes. Deism may also include a spiritual element, involving experiences of God and nature.[17]

Though deists rejected atheism,[14] they often were called "atheists" by more traditional theists.

Both [theists and Deists] asserted belief in one supreme God, the Creator... and agreed that God is personal and distinct from the world. But the theist taught that God remained actively interested in and operative in the world which he had made, whereas the Deist maintained that God endowed the world at creation with self-sustaining and self-acting powers and then abandoned it to the operation of these powers acting as second causes.

BornInTheUSA
BornInTheUSA

@Alyssa Vetter If you want more Officials like him, my gosh girl, get goin' - you are living in a land of misery for you... there are plenty of places in the world that you could move to that have exactly that kind o' Leaders.  Closest is Cuba, nice place, great weather, and no Christian Officials.  NADA.  Many other locales - a bit far for you, but how about Russia?  Well, seems some of those Leaders are starting to believe... they've had lots of astronauts and space studies and that has tweaked the concepts of some of their thinkers... and other than that, some are doing comparative analysis using USA as a source to bounce off of God believers.  Nonsense for you to spend your time worrying about the world, and getting "more accomplished" - accomplished for what?  Your agenda is confused, no need to give a d*mn about anybody else, just take care of yourself.  Who's going to care what you "accomplish."  Time is short!  Enjoy the Now... you have "crossed off" eternity.  If you aren't happy here, do yourself a favor and find your niche.  Nobody in the USA will care.   

obarryon
obarryon

@XJS GUY"In other words, religion was invented when the first fool met the first charlatan." LOL! I love it! I'm stealing that immediately.

kkeeney
kkeeney

@XJS GUY  - the story is that Lot's daughter's got him very intoxicated, then had sex with him.  They may have been his step-daughters.  It was Hebrew tradition for a male member to continue the family geneology.  Since everyone in the family was dead, except Abraham the women made this decision.   Also, this SIN was CONDEMED by God, not sanctioned!! 

randiebobandy
randiebobandy

@BornInTheUSA @randiebobandy  - "Mental" refers to use of reasoned thought with your brain.  Cultist lack this capability.  "Faith" is defined in believing something in which there is no evidence to support it.  Cultist have a deep seated "need" to believe in something as they were forced into the indoctrination of "Faith" as a child.  

"If we long to believe that the stars rise and set for us, that we are the reason there is a Universe, does science do us a disservice in deflating our conceits?" - Carl Sagan

unrestrained72
unrestrained72

Well, the countries with high atheist populations do have less crime and poverty.  I guess people take responsibility for themselves instead of waiting for magical solutions to fall out of the clouds.

slnine
slnine

@BornInTheUSA This is one of the most nonsensical, thoughtless, and delusional things I have read in a long time. Well done BornInTheUSA, that is no easy task. Cognitive Dissonance to the max.

cdickenson64
cdickenson64

I was born in the USA... I am an Atheist... And I will never leave this country for the likes of some sheepheaded blind faither. If YOU don't like it YOU leave!

pittpainter
pittpainter

@kkeeney @XJS GUY   Then why was his wife murdered by god for looking back a the cities (as Lot did), just before Lots' incest?


XJS GUY
XJS GUY

@kkeeney @XJS GUY  

god is an INVENTION of humans.

I know the entire story from that novel called the bible.

Stephen King could have written the old testament.

Ken Kesey could have written the new one.

obarryon
obarryon

@randiebobandy I like Mark Twain's definition better - Faith: Believing what you know ain't so.

justin1217
justin1217

@BornInTheUSA Last I heard, brains are located between your ears. Maybe you don't have one? If that is the case, I am deeply sorry.

BornInTheUSA
BornInTheUSA

@randiebobandy randie... what is "your brain" and where is it?  can you see that "reasoned thought" and how do you know it is real, that it exists???

BornInTheUSA
BornInTheUSA

@XJS GUY @kkeeney Some inventive humans designed their own Gods, we know that from lots of cultures.  They instinctively knew there was something greater than them, something that brought everything they knew about their environment into existence.  People suffer from lack of knowledge. That isn't the question.  Who created the humans and everything else?  Look at your hand and explain it in detail, human... then explain what you know about your creator.  Ask your creator to guide you and read the Bible alone.  The wind can turn pages but it cannot read...    

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