City of Maitland (FL) Council Meeting
11 January 2016
Randa Black (403 words)

Good evening! I am happy to be here tonight to give a secular invocation and words of encouragement and inspiration. Thank you, Mayor and Commissioners; it is an honor to be given a voice. I speak for those in our community who identify as being secular humanists, atheists, and one of the fastest growing groups in America, the non-religious.

We are fortunate to live in a country founded and formed to recognize the importance of the individual, where no one shall be made to hide nor justify his or her personal beliefs, and where no government shall impose a singular religion on its citizenry.

I know this is a room in which there are many challenging debates, many moments of tension and frustration, and of ideological division. But let us also be mindful that this is a room full of our diverse human family with common values and needs. Let us cherish and celebrate our shared capacity for reason and compassion. It is our similarities that move us forward and our ability to recognize the value and worth of our entire community that makes us great.

Instead of bowing our heads, please lift them up and look around you. Let us take a moment... look at your fellow citizens. Look past their age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other arbitrary label. Look past their politics, and their beliefs or religion. Every single person in this room has inherent, unequivocal, and unquestionable value as a human being.

The original motto of the United States of America was one of inclusion. “E Pluribus Unum”, which translates, “from many, one.” It doesn’t seek to exclude or extol any citizen for any reason.

I love living in Maitland! Thank you for your service to make Maitland a great place to live. When we say, “It’s My Maitland,” I’m grateful to live in a community that is inclusive of everyone. Thank you for recognizing that “It’s My Maitland,” too!

I want to close by quoting two presidents…

Abraham Lincoln was once asked about his religion and he remarked that it was very much like that of an old man named Glenn in Indiana whom he had heard speak, "When I do good I feel good; when I do bad I feel bad; and that's my religion.”

Harry S. Truman said, “It's remarkable how much you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit.”

Thank you.