Although I identify as a person of faith, I am very aware and respectful of those who do not identify themselves that way. I used to be asked, on occasion, to do prayers before the Texas Senate and Legislature until I decided, instead of prayers, to do devotionals that would be inclusive of all religions, and also of those people in the room who would be agnostic or atheist.
It is a bit awkward to be asked to pray at a rally or public gathering when my faith demands that I respect those for whom such an approach would be a barrier. So I was delighted to read the story of Arizona State Rep. Juan Mendez, who is an atheist, but was asked to pray before the group. Rep. Mendez showed respect for people of faith and for his own atheism by standing before the group and sharing his “faith,”
“Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads, I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state.”
“Carl Sagan once wrote, ‘For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love,'”
Can I get an “amen” for brother Mendez and his beautiful atheist prayer?