Freethinkers in Politics

There has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding the newly elected city councilman of Asheville, NC, Cecil Bothwell. Bothwell is an atheist/"post-theist," and conservatives in North Carolina are trying to remove him from office. They cite the NC state constitution, Article 6, section 8: “The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.” Of course, they conveniently ignore the United States Constitution, Article 6: "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

In the midst of religious conservatives claiming that atheists don't belong in politics because, since we don't follow God's morality, we cannot serve in the best interests of the people, I was glad to read that a secular humanist recently delivered the invocation for the new mayor of South Portland, ME. His invocation address is far more inspirational than those traditionally delivered by clergymen:

"Today we have come together to mark a new beginning of governance in the city of South Portland. What lies ahead is an untold opportunity to affirm our ability and our responsibility to serve the greater good –- of which there is no higher purpose.

We must open our hearts to the welfare of all people within our community by respecting the inherent dignity within all of us, and realize that our differences of race, religion, and party affiliation are only superficial. We are united by our common humanity, and through our interdependence we share a common fate.

In order to achieve our greatest capabilities as citizens and leaders of this community, it is important for us maintain an open mind. Let us consider the benefit provided by differing perspectives, and be willing to question assumptions that only serve to obstruct our path to progress.

Rather than bowing our heads and closing our eyes in denial or deference, we should open our eyes widely to accept the reality that confronts us, without losing sight of our ideals of what it could be.

Through the prudent use of reason and compassion we can ensure the success of this great city.

Lastly we must remember that in the face of adversity we need not look above for answers, but instead recognize the proven potential within ourselves and in each other to overcome any challenges that may arise."