A better way of starting meetings

Via Jonathan Turley I learned about an Arizona state representative Juan Mendez who, when it was his turn to open the session with a prayer, chose instead to use the occasion to reveal that he was a secular humanist.

“Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads,” Mendez said. “I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. 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,” Mendez said. “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 continued, “Carl Sagan once wrote, ‘For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.'”

After the invocation, Mendez called himself one of just one of 1.3 million Arizonans not affiliated with a religious tradition or organization.

“I hope today marks the beginning of a new era in which Arizona’s non believers can feel as welcome and valued here as believers,” he said.

Good for Mendez. I hope more politicians reveal their lack of belief.


  1. lippard says

    Mendez also called out members of the Secular Coalition for Arizona, who were present in the gallery of the Arizona House of Representatives for this event. Kudos to Serah Blaine and the members of the Secular Coalition for Arizona who helped make this happen.

  2. Worldtraveller says

    I’m curious, knowing the religious ‘sensibilities’ of a large part of AZ (especially the Phoenix metro region), has Mendez been getting a lot of flak for this?

    I’m sure, at the very least, a few of the more redneck types in the area (and there are plenty) have threatened deportation (I mean, really, look at his last name….).

    I love most of Az, though I haven’t lived there since ’02, but the politics can be infuriating.

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