Nearly every state begins a session of their house or senate with a prayer. But when Democratic Representative Juan Mendez stepped to the microphone Tuesday he broke that tradition.
“Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads, I would like to ask that you not bow your heads,” he began.
The Tempe, Arizona representative followed with:
“ 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. This is a room in which there are many challenging debates, many moments of tension, of ideological division, of frustration. But this is also a room where, as my secular humanist tradition stresses, by the very fact of being human, we have much more in common than we have differences. We share the same spectrum of potential for care, for compassion, for fear, for joy, for love.”
Mendez then ended with a quote from Carl Sagan’s book, Contact. “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.”
After the session Mendez joined members of the Secular Coalition for Arizona at a news conference and explained his actions.
“We are learning the importance of coming out and visibility and how important it is in this effort to get non-believers to feel welcomed and valued.”
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