Largo Invocation 6/19/2018
I am very grateful to be here representing the expectations of those of us with a powerful commitment to, and investment in, the democratic institutions of our republic. Specifically, the 230 year experiment that our founders initiated in the belief that human society could, through the use of secular reason and education, create a better, more fulfilling life for all.
The governance of our country rests firmly upon the democratic aspirations of a free people. But to be truly free, we must recognize the diversity inherent in every freedom we grant to ourselves. This is more than the natural diversity provided by the various gene pools of the human family spread over the earth, but the more often vexing differences in our thinking. This is why we welcome the hundreds of competing religions, political parties, and philosophies that regularly seek both our attention and protection.
Our founders created a constitutional system based not upon the rights of historical institutions or groups, but in recognition of the power of each individual citizen. Inasmuch as a totally free society may be forever beyond our reach, we nonetheless strive with loving care, to expand our freedoms. This process is our most important achievement.
Secular neutrality in law and government is the essential foundation of our freedom. Politics, the art of determining how we shall live, is inevitably influenced by the currents of thought that sweep regularly through the market of ideas. Without that neutrality, we would inevitably succumb to the temptation of tyranny in the name of order and comforting conformity.
We look to you, our elected leaders, and to your commitment to our institutions, to keep the great experiment in human freedom alive and prospering. To paraphrase Jefferson, yours may not be the blood nourishing the tree of liberty, so much as the sweat and enthusiasm.
As an atheist, I am glad to be in your presence to testify that regardless of whatever clash of differences and opinion that may trouble the smooth running of our government, you are the present custodians of our trust, preserving the continuity of those rights we have established, and those unfulfilled dreams to which we aspire.
Clearwater Invocation 6/1/2017
My life has been full and rich with experience, both personal and professional; and before I retired, volunteered in my community for many years, which included attending many board meetings. So although I’ve never been here before, much of this experience today feels somewhat familiar.
Message: So that in a nutshell will give you some idea as to where I’m coming from when I ask all of you, right now, to take a deep breath, and, metaphorically speaking, try to exhale the busy and often frustrating and confusing day to day trials and tribulations that your personal and professional busy life sets before you, prior to this council meeting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that all of your personal experiences are to be forgotten and swept under the rug as the gavel calls the meeting to order. It’s the personal emotional content that I’m asking you to let go of, so as to allow you to focus your keen attention solely on the compassionate governance of the community of Clearwater, which depends upon you. What you do here is of great consequence to Clearwater residents, and I know that this is not a news bulletin to you. Many of you may even be thinking…”no dah” right now. But given that, if there was one seed that I can plant with you, it would be the term compassionate governance as a goal to strive for in each and every meeting. This goal I’m referring to is not a thing, but a frame of mind to adopt while you are in these chambers. Allow your compassion to guide your logical decision making, number crunching, politically sensitive part of your personality, as you steer Clearwater and its people on their journey.
End: In parting, I wish to acknowledge the hard work and dedication that goes into serving your community; especially your willingness to accept those of different religious beliefs, or as in my case, no religious belief at all, thereby putting the concept of the separation of church and state into full practice. Although church and state are meant to be separate, we the people are not. As you live and breathe, for the benefit of your community, may you always focus your attention with compassion.
8/16/2014 – Opinions to go Online
8/11/2014 – WFLA-AM – interview of Joe Reinhardt
First of all, I’d like to thank the Largo City Council for inviting the good folks at Atheists of Florida to offer the invocation this evening. I applaud their efforts to respond to – and to adapt to – the ever increasing diversity in our community today.
As an example of why this is so important, I’d like to invoke a relevant historical sidelight: Which is to say, that this is not the first time that Atheists of Florida has been invited to give the invocation before a local city council. – Several years ago we appeared before the Tampa City Council and even though we were – I repeat – invited guests – three of the Council members were so traumatized by our mere presence that they refused to even remain in the same room with us, and walked out of the meeting before we ever uttered a single word.
Try to picture the firestorm that would have created if they had treated ANY other ethnicity or race in such a disrespectful manner.
But happily, based on today’s reception, it looks as if we are making progress towards a more compassionate, all inclusive world view. Again, I applaud your efforts.
We at Atheists of Florida have long advocated a moment of silence in lieu of an invocation, as an agreeable way to commence any meeting. – A moment to clear the mind, to focus on the business at hand, and to reflect on the best available options to achieve optimum effectiveness in one’s efforts to govern fairly and efficiently.
And so, before I yield the remainder of my time for just that purpose, a moment of silence, I wish to invoke you to remember that human beings are the solution to human problems, and that it is our responsibility, to the best of our abilities, to make the world, and to leave the world a better place. No one else can do it.
Pause / Smile
Ya know, in these surroundings, I don’t think I can go too far wrong by quoting the venerable Benjamin Franklin who famously said,
“The good Lord helps those who help themselves.”
Pause – I will now relinquish the remainder of my time for a moment of silent reflection.