Atheists Want Representative Steve Smith to Apologize for His "Repentance" Prayer
|State Representative Steve Smith|
David Silverman, the president of American Atheists, said Smith's stunt was "one of the most un-American remarks I have ever heard from a public servant," as he and other atheists released a letter asking Smith to apologize.
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Mendez essentially came out as an atheist when he delivered the opening prayer for the House of Representatives last week by asking that people not bow their heads, and instead spoke about the values of his "secular humanist tradition."
"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," Mendez later said.
In response, Smith asked the next day that everyone in the House pray for the second time of the session -- in "repentance."
In addition to the letter, American Atheists also released a statement from Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist and director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University, who said that Smith "embarrassed himself," adding that Smith "demonstrated how, unfortunately, religious belief can be used as a basis for exclusion and hatred."
"Representative Smith owes Representative Mendez, and the citizens of our state, an apology for his inappropriate remarks," Krauss says.
Check out the letter from the executives of American Atheists, as well as the leaders of Arizona-based atheist organizations, on the next page.