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May 27 2013

Battle Of The Prayers In Arizona Legislature

“I will not ask you bow your head
But look around the room instead”
The state rep, Johnny Mendez said,
In giving invocation.
“This is a time for us to share
With people here, and everywhere,
The fact that we’re alive, aware—
This is our dedication.”

His words, of course, were not a prayer;
He doesn’t think a god is there,
To answer, hear, or even care,
But people do exist.
It was his choice; it was his right,
But one man didn’t see it, quite—
He took it as a sinful slight
Steve Smith was truly pissed.

And this is where it should have ended;
Sometimes, Smith, one gets offended.
Church and state must not be blended
You’ve bowed your head too long.
But Christian privilege has its way
So Smith took time the very next day
To say the things he had to say—
That Mendez had it wrong.

“When given time to pray to God,
Don’t stain this room with mere façade—
A godless prayer? That’s more than odd;
This chamber must repent!
I’ll say one prayer, then one prayer more
And all must join me, I implore!
Give God his due! We must restore
Each godless minute spent!

Some thirty people—half the house—
Then prayed with Smith, the lordly louse,
Though many there do not espouse
The Christian point of view.
But Smith believes the right is his
And though he’d fail a civics quiz
I must admit, it seems it is
The Christian thing to do.

Ed reported on the initial atheist invocation delivered by Juan “Johnny” Mendez, calling it “pitch perfect”. But it seems there’s no accounting for taste; Mendez’s fellow legislator Steve Smith didn’t like Mendez’s tune, and what’s more, took offense on behalf of God, who declined to give His own opinion.

Smith then offered not one but two prayers–an invocation, and then a prayer of “repentance of yesterday” [the day of the godless invocation], and urged representatives to pray with him. About half did. Some of the others, though, were not shy to denounce the second prayer (why not the first?) as inappropriate. Representative Jamescita Peshlakai, a traditional Navajo, reminded Smith that she herself is “not Christianized”, and that his god is no more powerful than hers. She has been respectfully participating in house prayers, despite the fact that they did not represent her beliefs. I wonder if that will continue. (I suspect that it will, though I hope it will not.)

I wonder if rep. Peshlakai took any offense at Mendez’s invocation. I would have thought it was something pretty much everyone could agree with.

Guess I was wrong.

1 comment

2 pings

  1. 1
    Margaret

    his god is no more powerful than hers

    Well, that part is true.

  1. 2
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    A Humanist Prayer In The Arizona House Of Reps » The Digital Cuttlefish

    […] Juan Mendez, has had the chance to deliver the opening prayer for the Arizona House (the first was last May). Monday’s prayer wonderfully combines William Cleary’s “Grace to Shout” […]

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