Atheist to offer invocation in N.Y. town at the center of public prayer case

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Dan Courtney is scheduled to deliver a deity-free invocation next month in Greece, N.Y.

RNS photo courtesy Dan Courtney

Dan Courtney is scheduled to deliver a deity-free invocation next month in Greece, N.Y.

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(RNS) “I am going to ask the council to understand the principle that this country was founded on,” said Dan Courtney, a member of the Atheist Community of Rochester. “That the government was founded by the people and it needs to represent all the people regardless of their religious beliefs.”

  • Lles Nats

    “Atheists and other freethinkers”

    INCORRECT. Atheists are not free thinkers. Why would you have to tell a freethinker pigeonholed as an atheist the words to say at their invocation?

    Can’t a freethinker come up with something on their own? Apparently not. They have to be told what they should be saying.

  • Bnax

    And when he finishes let the crowd say, “In Jesus name, Amen”! Then the atheist will have completed a real prayer with true love and mercy by the great God that we serve.

  • Wonderful. Then future prayers can be amended from the crowd with all sorts of invocations from various gods and understandings. And instead of harmony we have a continuation of discord. And nativity displays taken over by satirists. While we’re at it, let’s have everybody build piles of wood in front of public buildings to see which one gets spontaneously combusted.

  • Atheist Max

    Atheist means “I do not believe in God”
    Freethinkers are people who say “I will think as if there is no God judging my thoughts”

    What is the difference?

  • Atheist Max


    “In Jesus Name” means:

    “In the name of the killer god who condemns babies at birth to eternal torture unless they are sprinkled with holy water from the hand of a sinner.”
    Only a fool could utter such nonsense.

  • gilhcan

    “Atheist” really means “no god.” An atheist is one who believes there is no god, not just a person who does not believe in god.

    A non-theist is a person who asserts a non-belief in a god.

    An agnostic is one who claims not to know or believe, one way or the other, about the existence of a god.

    The differences may seem subtle, but they really are very meaningful.

  • gilhcan

    Belief is a very delicate, sophisticated phenomenon. It deserves more respect among those who disagree with each other. Dialogue is impossible when we resort to mean-spirited language about the beliefs of others, even worse when the thoughts and language are translated into action. The history of religion, even Christianity, is already too full of that mean spirit.

    We should try to behave, to live beyond that, or we will never be able to live in peace with our differences. The current turmoil in the Middle East is dreadful proof of that. 9/11 was another example of the atrocious result of hatefulness among those who believe differently. Too much of our politics is mirroring that suicidal/killer dread.

  • gilhcan

    That is precisely what the Framers of our Constitution and its Bill of Rights realized so very well. They knew their history. They knew the terror that always resulted when religion and government, church and state were mingled. Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. That is a gentle way of directing that we should mind our own business. Religious belief–or non-belief–is one’s own business as long as it does not interfere with the rights of others.

  • gilhcan

    And then you are forcing your religious beliefs of those who do not share them. That interference is the very reason for the very first clause of the very First Amendment to our Constitution that prohibited the mingling of religion and government, church and state. It would be better, avoid all problems, if invocations of every kind were avoided in civic affairs.

  • Atheist Max


    Atheist = “I do not believe in a god”
    Positive Atheist = “I do not believe in god. But I am a humanist”
    Non-Theist = “I do not believe in a god, nor is it relevant.”
    Anti-Theist = “Until God is discovered, we must reject current religions”
    Agnostic = “I do not KNOW if there is a god”
    Freethinker = “I think freely on whether gods exist or not.”
    HARD ATHEIST (rare) = “I CLAIM Gods are impossible”

    If one is Agnostic (‘I don’t know’)
    they are necessarily ATHEIST (‘can’t believe’)

    In my case
    I am a Positive Atheist, Non-Theist, Anti-Theist
    And Agnostic.

    I do NOT claim God is impossible…… But I do not believe.
    And until god is discovered
    and his specific desires clearly revealed to all people equally
    we must abandon the current religions of the world
    as failures.

  • Atheist Max


    I agree with you completely regarding dialogue. And yes, we must behave respectfully toward individuals – the believers themselves. There is no reason to harm anyone, nor treat people with disrespect.

    But religion itself must be mocked. There is nothing to respect.
    In the seeds of each religion is division and the invocation to murder and kill – and this goes against peace and humanitarianism.

    Religion is evil.
    Evil which must be laughed out of town.
    “I come not to bring peace… but division” yet “blessed are the peacemakers” – Jesus.

    Good grief!
    This is ridiculous and childish nonsense. Religion is laughable garbage. Time for believers to grow up and throw off this yoke of Jesus/Muhammed/Allah/Yahweh TRASH.

  • Atheist Max

    “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5)

    This is a disgraceful belief and it must be abandoned.
    There can be no peace in a world where
    People insist on forcing this nonsense onto generations.

  • Barry the Baptist

    He is not placing taxes on others for non-conformity, killing them or even suggesting they should leave if they’re bothered. He’s not suggesting they should be quiet and be respectful of his beliefs, or saying that they should be denied a job or an opportunity to participate in government. He’s not offering up his belief system as a foundation for the methods and policies used to run the country they share with him. He’s not suggesting that they are immoral people not to be trusted because of their difference in beliefs. He’s not suggesting their families try to reprogram them or their communities ostracize them. He’s not condemning them to a long, miserable existence for their willful disregard for what he tells them. He doesn’t even finish with a passive-aggressive supplication to his non-belief for their well-being upon departure.

    He is just stating, somewhat vociferously, his observations and the conclusions he had made about beliefs he finds to be ridiculous that others would claim are the bedrock of our guiding political principles. He is not “forcing his beliefs” on others, as if that was a thing via the Internet.

  • PAD

    The humanist society website appears to have been taken down. This seems like a story in itself. Who is hosting it? Why is it down?

  • Hellsgift2u

    So tell me, deep down what is the root of your faith?

  • Hellsgift2u

    Division, is to separate. Separate the truth for the lusts that have oh so commonly corrupted this world, both in the name and against the name of god. For many arose in his name to fool many. In each script you post can be taking into two different paths. One as you stated and another as to reform. I feel you seen many Hippocrates misuse the worlds and therefore has created hatred for there stance. But if many would follow the true laws, voliance wouldn’t be here, but we choose the way of Cain and therefore the works became in vain.

  • Papa Ken

    How about an “apatheist”? Someone who doesn’t care one way or another.

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  • Atheist Max


    I have NO faith.
    Only beliefs based on evidence.

    Faith is unsupported nonsense. It is gullibility.
    A person ‘of faith’ should be laughed at. I’m embarrassed for them.

  • Atheist Max

    @Hell is for you,

    You sound angry that I am rejecting your claims.

    If you tell me a leprechaun exists in your bread box, and I look but see no leprechaun this does not make me angry – so it should not make you angry.

    You should ponder why your god is only visible to you and nobody else. There is no sign that things are getting worse in the world -except in places where religion is growing.

    You appear stuck in a delusion.

  • Joe Daddy

    Genius! I’m using this.

  • Larry

    Because God requires trickery and hostility for his will to be done!

  • Anna

    Idiot, you are the reason we need special groups to support our rights as non-believers. YOU who cannot stand that others do not believe as you do and would happily impose you beliefs on others under the pretense that it is your right. You disgust me.

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  • ted perantinides

    to llea nats;although i am not an agnosticnor an atheist,we so called christians believe that we are saved.with this assumption christians can say any nonsense that they want.if i were a non-believer show me tangable proof that you are saved.i personally try and work on my salvation on a daily basis

  • jen

    Ms. Wilson,

    As a Humanist I wanted to say thank you for the article. It was refreshing to read and to come across no hint of ill feelings toward the ‘non-believers’ that you references in your piece.


  • jen

    Oh, gosh. I apologize for miss-spelling your name Ms. Winston. I couldn’t figure out how to edit my previous post.

  • Billysees

    @ Atheist Max

    “In my case
    I am a Positive Atheist…”

    You are, most of the time. And that’s good.

    Check out these meaningful invocations —

  • Navin Johnson

    I can’t wait for the first Pastafarian invocation. May his noodly appendage find you in peace.