Historic INVOCATION: For The First Time Ever, A San Antonio City Council Meeting Began With A Secular Reflection--And Americans United Activists Led The Way.

AuthorBoston, Rob

History was made in San Antonio in September when the city council opened its deliberations with something members hadn't heard before: a secular invocation.

City officials have long been opening meetings with religious invocations, often Christian, but they had never heard a secular reflection before --so Americans United decided to change that.

Activists in the San Antonio Chapter of Americans United approached officials and offered to add a little more diversity to the community's invocations. The efforts bore fruit when councilmembers decided to accept the chapter's offer.

During the meeting, Councilwoman Ana Sandoval reminded attendees that the council had heard invocations from religious leaders of various faiths but hadn't heard from anyone representing the non-belief community. As AU's chapter noted, non-believers are part of the city's fabric as well, so it's only fitting that they be included.

At that point, Sandoval introduced Nick Lee, a member of the board of directors of the local AU chapter. Lee, who is also the past president of the Freethinkers Association of Central Texas and past President of the Atheist Alliance International, walked to the podium and offered the invocation that Church & State is reprinting here.

As Eric Lane, president of the AU San Antonio Chapter, noted in a message to Americans United's national office, "For the first time in the history of the city, a Secular Humanist gave the invocation. The oceans did not part. No one was smitten. The sun set and rose again."

Added Lane, "Our chapter is grateful to Councilwoman Ana Sandoval for inviting Nick Lee to give the invocation and to Nick for his courage and wisdom. We also want to thank the religious leaders both in attendance and there in spirit for their solidarity and support of the right of every American to follow the dictates of their conscience based on the guarantees in the first clause of the First Amendment. And we want to thank all of you who understand and support the foundation of our freedoms, the separation of church and state."

Lane said it was especially fitting that Lee gave the invocation in September, when the city, which is known for its diversity and multi-ethnic flair, was celebrating its 300th anniversary.

The event marks the second time an Americans United chapter has brought more inclusivity to a Texas community. In 2014, David Marcus of Join Us For Justice, AU's El Paso Chapter, delivered a secular invocation before a meeting of...

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