Clark County Council Meeting Washington
4 September 2018
Stuart Riley (418 Words)

Stuart Riley, Clark County Council Meeting

September 4, 2018

  I want to thank the councilors for changing the invocation policy and allowing me, an atheist, the opportunity to give this secular invocation.

  There is no need to bow your heads because this is not an appeal to a higher power, I only ask that you listen with an open mind and think rationally and critically on my words. Our constitutional republic was created as a consequence of the American Enlightenment which applied rational, scientific reasoning to politics, science, and religion. While the Enlightenment promoted religious tolerance it also promoted the idea of a secular government deriving its power, not from a supreme being, but by the consent of the governed. The ideas of the American Enlightenment were apparent in our constitution which enumerates our rights that cannot be infringed upon by our government nor by the tyranny of the majority, who, united by a common interest, may seek to restrict or eliminate the rights of the minority simply because their of views, race, ethnicity, beliefs, or lack of belief.

 For deists like Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Payne, and Washington a supreme being does not intervene in human affairs and the ideas of morality and ethics are self-evident by the laws of nature. While drafting the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson asked Franklin to edit the document. Franklin left the document mostly untouched but changed the last three words of Jefferson’s phrase, “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable” to read, “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” Although this is a small change it has significant implications and offers some insight into the views of our founders. Franklin thought it was important to make this change because he knew that the self-evident truth is a matter undeniable, secular, empirical fact, rationally drawn from our own collective understanding of ethics and morality. For these principles it is our hope and expectation that our councilors continue to find themselves the guidance they need to do what is right by virtue of our self-evident sense of morality and ethics, following reason and truth wherever it may lead. To enable them to perform their duties to the best of their ability and based on the facts so that they can best represent all the residents of the county regardless of whether those facts support their deeply held beliefs.

 Thank you all and the council for patiently listening and for your time. And once again I want to thank the council for this opportunity to give this secular invocation.

 Thank you.

 Word Count: 418