When an Atheist gives the invocation

Oskaloosa, Iowa, like many government institutions, begins its City Council meetings with an invocation.

It’s usually given by a member of the clergy but when the Eastern Iowa Atheists group asked to give last night’s opening message, the city said “sure”, the Oskaloosa Herald says.

“If you don’t believe in God, whose help are you asking for guidance or protection?” one resident asked on the paper’s Facebook page.

Justin Scott answered that in his invocation: our own power.

“First, the power to empathize with those that are different from you; that have taken a different path than you, that have experienced and continue to experience different struggles than yours. The human power to embrace diversity in your community, seeing it not as a threat but as an opportunity to learn and grow as neighbors. The human power to strive for inclusion in your city government. It is here to work for all citizens but only if you demand more from it. The human power to demand justice within your city, as we are all, in one way or another, all minorities,” he said.

After the meeting, a police officer escorted Scott out of the building after the editor of the local paper reported receiving death threats and the city council approved a sidewalk project and agreed to study time limits on downtown parking.