Pennsylvania State Senate
15 April 2015

Deana Weaver (305 words - 1:40)

Good morning. Thank you for welcoming something different to your day. It is an honor to be given a voice in this governing body.

In recent months, religious beliefs have been at the forefront of national debate. 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 personal beliefs, and where no government shall impose a singular religion on its citizenry. Where there is misunderstanding, we may engage in conscientious and respectful dialogue to assuage fear.

I am humbled to represent a portion of your diverse constituency, and that may raise the question, do atheists pray? A prayer is meditative, seeking inner strength to face difficulty and challenge. A prayer is solicitous, seeking to bring a benefit or relief to ones self, a loved one, or even to strangers. A prayer can be a direct appeal to a higher power.

So, let us pray that we may use our power to lead with compassion and understanding, that we remain tolerant of others regardless of differences in religious belief, gender, race, sexual, or political orientation, and that we treat one another as we wish to be treated. Let us pray for open minds and for the strength to overcome preconceived judgment. Let us learn daily and consider wisely. Let us be mindful of our one diverse human family with common values and needs. Let us work toward clean air, clear water, safe neighborhoods, strong schools, and a viable economy with sustained employment opportunity for all. Let us provide for well-trained and equipped firefighters, emergency responders, police, and military, and may we never forget their sacrifice.  As we forge ahead toward the common good of community, may we all benefit from the enduring power of diversity.

Thank you.