Posted January 3, 2011 by The Underground Staff in Featured

Atheists upset because they weren’t invited to D.C. Inaugural Prayer Service

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They don’t want to be considered as a religion, and they successfully helped render the National Day of Prayer unlawful. But if you are going to hold an inaugural prayer service, you had better invite the atheists, or they will be mad.

The Secular Coalition for America in Washington DC is outraged because they were not invited to attend Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray’s January inaugural prayer service, The Christian Post said.

The SCA asked D.C. residents to flood Gray’s office with emails saying that discrimination is unacceptable, after they were not included in Gray’s ecumenical service entitled One City…Praying Together slated for 8 a.m. on Jan. 2, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Politics Daily reported.

Politics Daily reported that atheist activists and other groups have posted comments threatening political revenge against Gray. Secular groups are also getting together to determine if they should protest the event, according to God Discussion.

The secular groups in D.C., God Discussion said, include Washington Ethical Society, Washington Area Secular Humanists, Capital Beltway Atheists, DC Atheists, the DC Center of Inquiry and the secular Jewish Machar group.

Amanda Knief, SCA Government Relations Manager said Gray’s team told them it was too late for their inclusion in the interfaith program. In a statement Knief said, “We find it overtly discriminatory when we request to be part of an ecumenical prayer service that is supposed to unite the entire city and are told there is no place for nontheists,” The Christian Post reported.

Gray was upset that no humanist celebrant was invited to participate in the interfaith program, even if they don’t believe in God. She explained that they have humanist celebrants (she is one) who are trained to preside over weddings and funerals, among others, The Christian Post said.

The humanist celebrant, according to the SCA, is “the nonreligious equivalent of a clergyperson,” Politics Daily reported, who can “offer words of encouragement and inspiration without involving a deity.”

God Discussion said that a number of secular groups have programs to train secular and humanist celebrants, such as the American Ethical Union, the Society for Humanistic Judaism and The Humanist Society.

Gray, a Roman Catholic, based his campaign on the twin themes of inclusion and unity. He promised to bring back the Office of Religious Affairs and to form a city prayer breakfast, The Christian Post said.

Humanist groups have long protested public prayer, including the National Day of Prayer this year, which the Freedom From Religion Foundation launched a lawsuit against, leading Federal District Judge Barbara Crabb to rule that it is unlawful. President Obama said he would appeal the decision, The Christian Post reported.

Knief told the God Discussion that it is regretful that a humanist celebrant was not included in the Jan. 2 prayer service saying, “Secular Americans have much to offer their communities if allowed to participate.”

The Underground Staff