Cobb County (GA) Commission
28 July 2009
Ed Buckner (534 words - 4:04)

Thank you and certainly anybody can stand if they wish.  For any of you who are bowing your heads, I’d respectfully recommend against doing that as well.  I’m Ed Buckner, a Cobb County resident and taxpayer, and the national president of American Atheists.  According to my dictionary, an invocation is done to call on a higher power and since we all know that the only supreme power in Cobb County is the citizenry, I speaknow in the name of the 700,000 people who live in this county, especially the majority (and yes, I do mean over half) of those 700,000 who are not members of any church, mosque, temple, or other religious organization.

And even more especially, I speak in the name of the overwhelming majority, including anyone I've ever met who do not want their government to decide for them regarding anything regarding religion or any gods.  I speak as well for those political leaders who despair that success in politics cannot be achieved without hypocritical piety from politicians and who would prefer to run for office and to govern based on competence and political philosophy rather than on beliefs, real or pretended, in any supernatural beings.

I speak, oddly enough, on behalf of Southern Baptists who know their own faith and message which declares in chapter 17 that Church and State should be separate and that the church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work.  I speak in the name of all Americans who know our history and who know for example that in 1797, the US Senate voted unanimously in favor of, and that President John Adams then signed, a treaty with Tripoli that specified that the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.

I invoke all of these people to urge Chairman Samuel S. Olens, Commissioner Helen Golen, Commissioner Bob Ott, even though he is not here, and my own Commissioner, Woody Thompson, and the thousands of dedicated employees to work hard ethically, and honestly, on our behalf, to represent us well, [in] all things unrelated to religion of course. And to please avoid the arrogance of thinking you can or ever should express any religious beliefs other than your own.  For any of you who are made uncomfortable by my remarks, who think this is more a provocation than an invocation, who would prefer not to hear such comments at a meeting you came to expecting government, instead of religion and philosophy, please join me in urging that the Cobb County commissioners and planning commissioners cease to open their meetings with public religious invocations of any kind.

For Christians such exercises are a plain violation of Matthew 6:5-6 and, more importantly, they are for all of us an insult to our right to choose our own religion and religious representatives for ourselves, if we want any at all.  And these invocations are a violation of the letter and intent of the Constitution of the state of Georgia, of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and of the 14th Amendment, ratified exactly 141 years ago today. Go and sin no more.  Thank you.