July 16,2014 – Chico, California
*** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ***
Chico, CA—The Chico based Atheists of Butte County modifies last year’s campaign to halt religious invocations to seek inclusion for more than 20% of the local population who identify themselves as “nones,” or none of the above, regarding their religion.
Atheists of Butte County sent a certified letter to Mayor Scott Gruendl (July 10, 2014) asking to be included in the process of City Council invocations delivered at the start of each meeting.
The goal is to have the group offer a non-religious reflection before meetings which would be inclusive of all citizens, unlike the current practice of prayer which is exclusive of non-believers and divisive among religious people.
The Supreme Court decision in Greece v. Galloway, specifically includes equal access to the invocation as part of its justification for allowing the prayers to continue. It reads, in part, “The town at no point excluded or denied an opportunity to a would-be prayer giver. Its leaders maintained that a minister or layperson of any persuasion, including an atheist, could give the invocation.” (pg6 par2)
The Greece decision makes it unlikely that government prayers will cease any time soon. If our local elected officials wish to continue praying before meetings, we expect them to provide an opportunity for a truly unifying message to be delivered by a non-theist with a message that embraces all citizens as equal participants in the process of local government.