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


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."

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.

Written By: Matthew Hendley
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  1. I love the fact that his name is Juan Mendez. People, like me, from south of the United States(I really hate the word latino because it is a made up ethnicity, but I don’t know a better word) are stereotypically depicted as very catholic with their silly mary candles and all. It just made me smile to see another atheist with a Spanish surname.

  2. I suppose this is progress, but what have now are dozens of Christian magic ceremonies imposed on others in return for one secular pretend magic ceremony imposed on others. I would have preferred all of it gone.

    At some point legislators will start coming out, and the secular magic will come to prevail. Then the Christians will favour abolishment.

  3. Starting to realize there may be some votes to be had in the secular community? Good on him.

  4. “An atheist state lawmaker…”

    Where is this atheist state and what are the schools and property prices like?

  5. Bravo Mr Mendes.
    About time more secular common sense people were voted up in the USA.

  6. Hmmm, invoking the comments of a brilliant and thoughtful scientist instead of some long edited versions of some bedouins maybe three thousand years ago. What’s next? Demanding gravity be debated? Real or not real?

  7. Representative Mendez shows the intelligence, ethical integrity, and sheer guts so desperately needed in US politics – especially since Arizona is a westward extension of the Deep South when it comes to theocratic insanity, not to mention being a bastion of old-white-guy racism and bigotry. Hopefully this will bring other secular politicians out of the woodwork. The theocrats need to know they don’t have a stranglehold on power.

  8. I so want to shake this man’s hand! I hope he also meets Congresswoman Kyrsten Simena (D-9th CD, AZ!), another reported “non-theist”! A brave, brave individual!

  9. What he said was AWESOME! I wish ALL public meetings began with such insightful words of wisdom!

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