Atheist delivers opening invocation, no lightning strikes reported.
Arizona state Rep. Juan Mendez, an atheist state legislator, was asked to deliver the opening prayer for Tuesday’s afternoon session. The “prayer” he delivered is one that everyone, no matter faith, race, or creed, should be able to get behind. From PhoenixNewTimes:
“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.”
“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.'”
“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.
Now that is a “prayer” I can support. I’m sure there will be countless rightwing blogs pointing to it as one of the signs that Satan has taken over our nation once it finishes trickling through the internet, but for now, it is just a story that gives a little bit of my faith in humanity back.
It not only gets better, but people can change as well.
San Francisco Giant Jeremy Affeldt used to be a homophobic bigot. But the key phrase in that sentence is “used to be.” From the Salon:
In a new book, San Francisco Giant Jeremy Affeldt admits that he was deeply homophobic when he first traveled to the Bay Area as an opposing player, often staying in his hotel room for days at a time to avoid interactions with people he thought may be gay.
Affeldt discusses his struggle to overcome his anti-gay bias in a new memoir, and believes the diversity of his adopted city helped him through that process: “There’s a chapter in there of me coming to San Francisco and being hesitant because I had homophobia, and now I don’t,” he told the Associated Press. “I see more San Francisco as a city of love and a city of passion and compassion. It’s unbelievable this city. To see that and to have my heart change as a city I didn’t ever want to come to, to a city that I’m so thankful I’m going to be part of for a long time, it talks about that. For me, it was an awesome deal.”
He also credits a gay Starbucks employee for revealing his bias to him, recalling how the man’s casual interactions with Affeldt’s family showed him that there is “no difference, none” between gay people and straight people.
“They’re human beings,” he said. “And I’m going to love on them just as God told me to love all human beings.”
Faith in humanity…..regaining strength….
Federal court tells Arizona “Nice try, but you still can’t outlaw abortion.”
From the Salon once again:
A federal appellate panel has struck down an Arizona law banning abortion at 20 weeks, calling it unconstitutional “under a long line of invariant Supreme Court precedents” guaranteeing a woman’s right to an abortion.
The ban would also have severely restricted emergency abortion care for women with high-risk pregnancies, forcing doctors to wait until a woman’s condition posed an immediate threat of death or catastrophic damage before offering her appropriate medical care.
FYI, this next bit is what is known as a “judicial smackdown.” Pay attention.
“While the state may regulate the model and manner of abortion prior to fetal viability, it may not proscribe a woman from electing abortion, nor may it impose an undue burden on her choice through regulation,” wrote Judge Marsha S. Berzon, the opinion’s author.