DES MOINES – A professing atheist recently delivered an opening invocation before the Iowa House of Representatives, in which he promoted atheistic ideals and converted a well-known Old Testament passage into a secular “prayer.”
The Iowa House has a longstanding tradition of opening its meetings with prayers, which are typically offered by local pastors. However, on Wednesday, Justin Scott of the Eastern Iowa Atheists organization delivered what was reportedly the first ever atheistic invocation before the House.
“Instead of closing your eyes and bowing your heads today, please keep your heads up and your eyes open to be fully alert in this moment,” Scott began.
“As you convene here in the people’s House, let me implore this body to invoke the holy trinity of science,” he continued. “Made up of reason, observation, and experience, this trinity has allowed humanity to explore the deep reaches of space, develop life-saving medicines, and vastly improve the human experience.”
“This body should be able to tackle the many difficult issues facing the great people of the state of Iowa without allowing confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, or intellectual dishonesty to blindly guide positions and votes,” he added.
Scott, who is a self-employed Iowa native, went on to contrast the “trinity of science” with religious dogma and claimed that truth propels evolution forward.
“The trinity I invoke today isn’t rooted in any kind of doctrine or dogma,” he stated. “In its pursuit of truth, it doesn’t care what our feelings are or what our deeply held beliefs are on a particular issue. Truth can sometimes be uncomfortable, but it plays a large part in the ongoing evolution of our species.”
“There’s only one catch with this kind of trinity, though,” Scott said. “It only works if you’re willing to change your opinions on issues if it delivers an outcome that doesn’t align with your deeply held beliefs. This is especially worth remembering as all of you are entrusted to uphold and maintain the dignity and bodily autonomy of all Iowans, regardless of their worldview, sexual orientation, gender identity, or even political ideology.”
He then urged the legislators to embrace the secular trinity.
“Refusing to accept what the evidence says has real world implications for all Iowans,” he said. “Incorporating this trinity today, tomorrow, and every day, you do the work of the people, which will allow you to do the most good for the most Iowans.”
At the end of his invocation, Scott mimicked the prayer God gave to Moses in Numbers 6, replacing biblical terms with secular ones.
“In closing, let this trinity guide you and protect you,” he said. “May this trinity inspire you and be honest to you. May this trinity lift up the truth upon you and give you peace. Thank you.”
Immediately following the invocation, Scott abstained from participating in the Pledge of Allegiance, reportedly to show support for atheists who do not participate in saying the pledge.
On their Facebook page, Eastern Iowa Atheists described the invocation as “historic” and said the message was “dedicated to the atheists whose voices were never heard due to fear of rejection, harassment, retaliation and discrimination.”