City of Largo (FL) Commission Meeting
5 August 2014

Joseph Rhinehart (382 words - 2:28)

Thank you, council members, – and good evening, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, and fellow citizens.

First of all, I’d like to thank the Largo City Council for inviting the good folks at Atheists of Florida to offer the invocation this evening. I applaud their efforts to respond to – and to adapt to – the ever increasing diversity in our community today.

As an example of why this is so important, I’d like to invoke a recent and relevant historical sidelight: Which is to say, that this is not the first time that Atheists of Florida has been invited to give the invocation before a local city council. – Several years ago we appeared before the Tampa City Council and even though we were – I repeat – invited guests – three of the Council members were so traumatized by our mere presence that they refused to even remain in the same room with us, and walked out of the meeting before we ever uttered a single word.

Try to picture the firestorm that would have created if they had treated ANY other ethnicity or race in such a disrespectful manner.

But happily, based on today’s reception, it looks as if we are making progress towards a more compassionate, all inclusive world view. Again, I applaud your efforts.

We at Atheists of Florida have long advocated a moment of silence in lieu of an invocation, as an agreeable way to commence any meeting. -  A moment to clear the mind, to focus on the business at hand, and to reflect on the best available options to achieve optimum effectiveness in one’s efforts to govern fairly and efficiently.

And so, before I yield the remainder of my time for just that purpose, a moment of silence,  I wish to invoke you to remember that human beings are the solution to human problems, and that it is our responsibility, to the best of our abilities, to make the world, and to leave the world a better place. No one else can do it.

Ya know, in these surroundings, I don’t think I can go too far wrong by quoting the venerable Benjamin Franklin who famously said, “The good Lord helps those who help themselves.”

I will now relinquish the remainder of my time for a moment of silent reflection.