Atheist reads invocation at city council, some members absent

Jan 7, 2015 12:49 AM by News Staff

For the first time ever, an atheist group was invited to read the invocation at the start of the Chico city council meeting. However, it appears not everyone on the city council was okay with it. Councilmembers Sean Morgan and Andrew Coolidge were both absent during the atheist invocation and took their seats after it was over. Neither confirmed their absence was related to the invocation.

Many groups have been fighting the city of Chico for years saying prayer has no place in government, but the president of a local atheist group thought if you can't beat them, join them.

George Gold, the president of Atheists of Butte County, petitioned the city in the past to discontinue prayers. He then decided to ask the council to read the invocation himself at one of the meetings. His requests were repeatedly denied but following a Supreme Court ruling saying invocations are allowed at city council meetings as long as agnostics and atheists are included, Gold was invited.

"We're all human beings. When we bleed we bleed one of four basic blood groups. Regardless of race. Regardless of where we live. Regardless of our political affiliations. Whether we are rich or poor. And yes, whether we are religious or decidedly not religious," said Gold during his reading at Tuesday night's meeting.

Even though this was a small victory, he'd still like to see invocations gone completely. I think it's important that people recognize the wall that was erected by the founders between church and state. When the business of government is being conducted, there's no reason to invoke some fantasy in the sky," explained Gold. He claims there are 17,000 secular people in the city of Chico, with half of those being atheists. He also wants to remind council that their job is to serve the citizens of Chico as a whole and leave religion out of it, citing the First Amendment.

If you'd like to read Gold's invocation in its entirety, you can find it here.


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