The script (mostly followed):
Most invocations before events like this begin with a request to bow your heads. Tonight, I would like to ask you not to 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 this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to improving the lives of the people of our community.
To be sure, we do not agree about everything. And we often feel fiercely protective of what we do believe. There is, rightly so, great passion in our beliefs. We know that in our community, and I’m sure will be highlighted tonight at a candidate forum, there will be many challenging debates, many moments of tension, of ideological division, of frustration.
But as we listen here tonight, we must remember that in our differences there lies great strength. We come from many places. We embrace many traditions. We are Christians, Jews, Muslims, non-religious and so many other things. We are straight. We are gay. We are young. We are old. We represent different races and nationalities. We run the gamut from liberal to conservative, and some of us are even a little bit of both.
So we don’t all think the same way or believe the same things. Yet we are linked by our common humanity and our shared origin. We share the same potential for care, for compassion, for fear, for joy, for love. We share the goal of making our community the best place it can be. And we unite here today around that noble aim and common purpose.
There is, in this political process, much to bear. So tonight, right now, let us cherish and celebrate our shared humanness, our shared capacity for reason and compassion, our shared love for the people of our community, for our Constitution and for our democracy.
Tonight, rather than bowing our heads and closing our eyes in deference, let us open our eyes widely to face the reality that confronts us, without losing sight of our ideals of what we could achieve.
Tonight, let us open our eyes to thoroughly consider the perspectives of those with whom we disagree.
Tonight, rather than look above for answers, let us instead look to the proven potential within ourselves and in each other to overcome any challenges we face.
Tonight, let us look ahead, with anticipation and enthusiasm, to the task before us.
Let each of us right now rededicate themselves to this noble aim and common purpose of making our community the best it can be for all our residents and working together in a spirit of mutual respect and common decency.
Some of the words and inspiration for this came from:
Below, you'll find examples of secular invocations, or skip to the bottom of this page to read the legal memorandum…thehumanistsociety.org
For some background on some of the history of my public life and it’s intersection with my personal religious beliefs see:
ADDENDUM and update follows below this column.] - In the aftermath of last week's momentous votes by the Fayette County…thecitizen.com
A man named Leonard Presberg was recently elected to the Fayette County Board of Education (in Georgia). That was back…www.patheos.com
And my statement released January 28, 2012:
“My position on religion is not a requirement or qualification for being a member of the Fayette County School Board. Indeed such a requirement is specifically prohibited by the United States Constitution.
I believe a relationship with God is a deeply personal matter. I would never presume to try to impose my personal beliefs on any other individual, student or school. As a School Board member I must give the utmost respect to the entire range of beliefs among our citizens.
I applied to be on the School Board because I believe in a life of service — it is why I went into education to begin with. I strive to treat everyone with respect, kindness, and love without judgement of their race, religion, political party, economic status or any other characteristic. I hope to be able to model that ideal for my children and every student in our system.
If you have any specific concerns about our schools, I’d love to hear them. I’m happy to set up a time to meet. I also urge you to come to any of our meetings — the next one will be on February 13th.
Thanks for your interest in our school system. I remain dedicated to the students and citizens of Fayette County.”