Should Atheists Give Invocations?



Another day (week) another outrage from American Atheists and their “allies”. Recently the 3rd Circuit Court of appeals  reversed a District Court decision concerning non-theists  giving invocations at the Pennsylvania State Legislature. Of course american Atheists released a statement, calling the 2-1 decision, “indefensible”. Is it?  Something AA didn’t do in their release is link the decision and cherry-picked  a single sentence from the 34 page decision (including the one dissent) to do nothing but attempt to provoke atheists in some way or other.

Circuit Judge Ambro, writing for the majority, said, “The nontheists here may be members of ‘religions’ for First Amendment purposes, but, because they do not proclaim the existence of a higher power, they cannot offer religious prayer in the historical sense.”

The decision is much more detailed than just that conclusory statement, but in fairness to AA, does give the gist of the overall argument from the judge. I’ve written in the past that I don’t really care, one way or the other about invocations. I have never understood why atheists would care about them either. In this case, the court seemed to use a lot of other cases, including the recent Supreme Court decision on the Bladensburg Cross to justify it’s decision.

Of course, I think that anyone, any organization should be able to present an invocation if they desire. I just don’t understand why atheist groups consider this an important step to become accepted in society. No one knows about these when given other  than those people present and so it’s not anything atheists may use to show how we’re becoming more accepted amongst our peers in society.

I’m not sure how to judge the plaintiff’s argument as understood by the court: In this case, it seems that non-theists want to be viewed, for this purpose, as a religion, just like any other. If I understood that correctly, then what AA is saying here is that atheists are sometimes a religious group. Of course, that doesn’t make any sense to me, but seems like some sort of legal tactic to win the case.

there’s a lot to this decision and I encourage everyone that has the time, to take a look. It may end up becoming precedent.  Of course, in their release, AA said that they were looking at possible next steps in this appeal. That may be having it heard among the entire court, or possibly attempting to have the Supreme Court hear the case.

AA also mentions that the citizens of Pennsylvania should be upset over the amount of money the state spent defending their rule (it’s not a law). Of course, they fail to mention the amount of money spent by AA, Americans United, etc., of their members dues to pursue this case initially.

Should atheists actually care about this? Will it actually mean anything in the long term? I don’t know.


2 thoughts on “Should Atheists Give Invocations?

  1. Religious invocations are a violation of church-state separation. Atheists scrambling to be allowed to give their own only serves to legitimize it.

    The legal efforts of AA, AHA, and FFRF really are Amateur Hour.


  2. Atheism is no more a religion than creationism is a science or the islam is a religion of peace.

    The Constitution, which the Bill of Rights amends, is not really indifferent, it’s simply godless. The Constitution’s three mentions of religion are exclusionary: banning religious tests for public office, prohibiting the government from aligning with one religion over another and religion over nonreligion, and guaranteeing the freedom of thought and belief. In other words, the Constitution keeps God out of the business of government and government out of the business of worshipping God.
    That’s what’s on paper, but clearly not practiced by our government. Last time I checked; State Legislature is not a church. Yes, there is “supposed” to be a separation of church & state, but not a separation of faith and politics. One would have better luck separating the eggs and flour out of an already baked cake. Why? The Christian voters which make up the majority of their constituency, and MEGA donations & campaign funding from Evangelical elites. It’s a dog an pony show with politicians. People don’t seriously think that any of those frauds who run the church & and run the state really believe in God do they? Come oooon… God is for the little people. It’s all about the evangelicals & career politicians who do very well out of it. And just like any politically vested interest, it has one purpose and one purpose only, to maintain its power & influence at any cost. And in our case, it means treating atheists like second class citizens.

    Should atheists actually care about this?
    Yes. Because of the mindset of what people have about what an atheist is has been poisoned by religious proclamations. We have been denigrated from the pulpit, and it has seeped into every aspect of culture, right up to the height of intellectual pursuits, and it’s time for that to end. But, currently, atheism is unfortunately the minority. But no one has the right to treat any minority as second-class citizens. Just as women or people of color were treated as second-class citizens throughout history.

    Will it actually mean anything in the long term?
    I don’t know either. But I’m optimistic as long as atheists’ keep fighting the good fight, and fight it fairly and honestly, that the minority will eventually become the majority or at least have equal footing.
    After all, ” History’s like a big door, it swings on small hinges’.”

    Liked by 2 people

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