Atheist AZ Lawmaker Quotes Carl Sagan Instead of Praying Before House Session

The Senate got their revenge the next day.
Religion • Views: 32,296
Juan Mendez. Photo: Facebook

Arizona history was made yesterday:

An atheist state lawmaker tasked with delivering the opening prayer for this afternoon’s session of the House of Representatives asked that people not bow their heads.

Democratic Representative Juan Mendez, of Tempe, instead spoke about his “secular humanist tradition” and even quoted author Carl Sagan.

“Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads,” Mendez said. “I would like to ask that you not 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 together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state.”

[…]

There’s a link to a video of Mendez’s statement at the link above.

Arizona Senator Steve Smith. Photo: Ross D. Franklin

Today, Sen. Steve Smith tried to undo whatever horrible consequences were going to befall Arizona for this transgression:

An atheist lawmaker’s decision to give the daily prayer at the Arizona House of Representatives triggered a do-over from a Christian lawmaker who said the previous day’s prayer didn’t pass muster.

Republican Rep. Steve Smith on Wednesday said the prayer offered by Democratic Rep. Juan Mendez of Tempe at the beginning of the previous day’s floor session wasn’t a prayer at all. So he asked other members to join him in a second daily prayer in “repentance,” and about half the 60-member body did so. Both the Arizona House and Senate begin their sessions with a prayer and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

“When there’s a time set aside to pray and to pledge, if you are a non-believer, don’t ask for time to pray,” said Smith, of Maricopa. “If you don’t love this nation and want to pledge to it, don’t say I want to lead this body in the pledge, and stand up there and say, ‘you know what, instead of pledging, I love England’ and (sit) down.

“That’s not a pledge, and that wasn’t a prayer, it’s that simple,” Smith said.

[…]

Which then had its own backlash:

Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai, who represents a northern Arizona district on the Navajo reservation, did take offense. She said Smith’s criticism of another member’s faith, or lack of it, was wrong.

“I want to remind the House and my colleagues and everybody here that several of us here are not Christianized. I’m a traditional Navajo, so I stand here every day and participate in prayers,” even without personally embracing them, said Peshlakai, D-Cameron. “This is the United States, this is America, and we all represent different people … and you need to respect that. Your God is no more powerful than my God. We all come from the same creator.”

Those last two excerpts come from this article. Worth a click to read the rest.

Here’s what the Arizona Senate did after Smith’s double prayer:

A little religion could soon go a long way in avoiding unpopular government mandates.

The Arizona Senate passed a trio of bills Wednesday that seek to lower property taxes for religious institutions and make it easier for some people to sue over the First Amendment, much to the chagrin of civil liberties and secular groups who claim Arizona lawmakers are violating the U.S. Constitution by favoring the faithful over non-believers.

The Republican majority passed the bills amid opposition from Democratic lawmakers and with little debate. The legislation was backed by the powerful Center for Arizona Policy, which wields significant influence over conservative lawmakers in the Legislature.

Opponents of the measures argue religious institutions shouldn’t receive special privileges not afforded to all Arizonans. They claim the bills seek to legalize discrimination and to stall the ongoing battle to extend equal rights to gay and secular communities.

[…]

I hope those bills don’t have a prayer.

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66 comments

1 JeffFX  Wed, May 22, 2013 6:20:56pm

Repentance? Seriously? People who feel the need to repent to their imaginary friend need professional help.

2 thedopefishlives  Wed, May 22, 2013 6:54:30pm

re: #1 JeffFX

Repentance? Seriously? People who feel the need to repent to their imaginary friend need professional help.

No disrespect, but that statement is more than just a little overbroad. However, this disgraceful display of public Pharasaicism is absolutely disgusting.

3 Kragar  Wed, May 22, 2013 6:59:35pm

Well, I’m certainly glad the AZ legislature has dealt with every other issue so they have time to devote on meaningless nonsense.

4 Charles Johnson  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:00:08pm

Excellent post. Promoted!

5 Political Atheist  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:00:18pm

The best thing was so easy and obvious. Just let Mr Mendez have his moment and move on. Show a little grace and class. But not this time. Small minded types.

6 Targetpractice  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:00:57pm

IF you wish to start a NASCAR race with an invocation, go for it. Wanna start a football game by making everybody bow their heads in prayer, more power to ya. You wanna take your fellow Christian lawmakers into another room and prayer to your sky god in private, have at it. But this idea of starting the work of a secular government with a forced prayer is ridiculous.

7 jaunte  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:02:39pm

Trying to figure out which primate facial expression Sen. Steve Smith is wearing, but I just can’t put a finger on it.
google.com

8 Kragar  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:03:08pm

re: #6 Targetpractice

IF you wish to start a NASCAR race with an invocation, go for it. Wanna start a football game by making everybody bow their heads in prayer, more power to ya. You wanna take your fellow Christian lawmakers into another room and prayer to your sky god in private, have at it. But this idea of starting the work of a secular government with a forced prayer is ridiculous.

As long as they allow equal time to pray for blood for the Blood God and allow the taking of skulls for the Skull Throne, then I don’t see a problem here.
///

9 wrenchwench  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:05:06pm

Thanks for the promo!

I’m driving myself crazy trying to pick a laptop. I give up until tomorrow.

Later, lizards.

10 erik_t  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:05:11pm

Man, college towns kick ass.

You go, Tempe.

11 Targetpractice  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:05:33pm

re: #8 Kragar

As long as they allow equal time to pray for blood for the Blood God and allow the taking of skulls for the Skull Throne, then I don’t see a problem here.
///

Considering how uptight they got about a Sagan quote, imagine if he’d uttered “Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!”

12 Vicious Babushka  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:06:04pm

Dana Loesch is having fantasies of “Leftists” being all ZOMGOUTRAGED at her, instead of facing the truth that they are just laughing at her.

13 EPR-radar  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:06:38pm

re: #3 Kragar

Well, I’m certainly glad the AZ legislature has dealt with every other issue so they have time to devote on meaningless nonsense.

The sad part is that any other action the AZ legislature could take would probably be more harmful than their public prayer nonsense, since both houses have Republican majorities.

14 thedopefishlives  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:06:47pm

re: #11 Targetpractice

Considering how uptight they got about a Sagan quote, imagine if he’d uttered “Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!”

I would’ve laughed at that one.

15 Targetpractice  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:07:27pm

re: #12 Vicious Babushka

Dana Loesch is having fantasies of “Leftists” being all ZOMGOUTRAGED at her, instead of facing the truth that they are just laughing at her.

“Outrage” sounds like laughter, didn’t you know?

//

16 Charles Johnson  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:07:32pm

re: #9 wrenchwench

You were right - Firefox is being difficult with the LGF Pages bookmarklet.

Still looking into the reasons, and whether there’s a fix, but in the meantime there are no problems with Chrome in any OS, Windows or Mac.

17 jaunte  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:08:33pm
“If you don’t love this nation and want to pledge to it, don’t say I want to lead this body in the pledge, and stand up there and say, ‘you know what, instead of pledging, I love England’ and (sit) down.”

This from a person who would claim he’s a native English speaker.

18 EPR-radar  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:13:03pm

re: #11 Targetpractice

Considering how uptight they got about a Sagan quote, imagine if he’d uttered “Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!”

The Cthulhu cult could do well among the GOP with some editing. For example, having the Great Old Ones consume only poor people and other undesirables would be a big hit.

19 bratwurst  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:13:45pm
20 thedopefishlives  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:14:06pm

re: #19 bratwurst

Funny thing is, that almost sounds like something the real Donald would say.

21 Gus  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:14:40pm

Dear Sen. Steve Smith:

Fuck you.

Sincerely,

Atheist

22 Varek Raith  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:16:36pm

Freedom is a wonderful thing.
Unless you are a theocrat.

23 SpaceJesus  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:18:22pm

Haha, in Phoenix no less. That’s like poking an ant hill with a stick.

24 thedopefishlives  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:19:11pm

re: #22 Varek Raith

Freedom is a wonderful thing.
Unless you are a theocrat.

I love how the theocrats always complain about their “freedoms” being “trampled upon”, when everyone knows that the very first thing they’d do should they succeed in gaining power would be to completely destroy basic American rights “in the name of God”.

25 erik_t  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:20:32pm

re: #23 SpaceJesus

Haha, in Phoenix no less. That’s like poking an ant hill with a stick.

Wacky enclave thereof. Tempe is notable for having elected in the last ten or fifteen years an openly gay Republican mayor, which (WTF?!).

26 Targetpractice  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:20:38pm

re: #24 thedopefishlives

I love how the theocrats always complain about their “freedoms” being “trampled upon”, when everyone knows that the very first thing they’d do should they succeed in gaining power would be to completely destroy basic American rights “in the name of God”.

First new law? Blasphemy laws. Can’t have the heathens speaking out openly against the One True Faith.

27 Varek Raith  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:25:35pm

All day today.
All. Day.
(Not my vid)

28 BigPapa  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:29:20pm

How dare Mendez torment oppress the majority of Christians by rubbing his atheism in their face.

29 ProTARDISLiberal  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:31:07pm

Hey Sessions, IMAX is gonna sue you for copyright infringement.

30 Mentis Fugit  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:34:23pm

Dear Sen. Smith,

Matthew 6:5-6.

31 Gus  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:38:21pm
32 Gus  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:40:19pm

The idiot Smith starts at around 4:34.

33 Gus  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:43:02pm

Name: Steve Smith

Civic organizations in which you’ve been active?

Tea Party Groups
Republican Groups
Christian Business Men’s Committee

Surprise! LOL. Listening to that Matthews piece. He’s a freaking idiot.

34 BryanS  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:43:47pm

Religion truly does poison everything.

35 jaunte  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:48:04pm

re: #33 Gus

“per se”

36 chadu  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:48:20pm

Remember, folks: half of the population is of below average intelligence.

37 BryanS  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:51:15pm

re: #36 chadu

Except for the folks from lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average.

39 Gus  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:52:55pm

Best Loony Bill Sponsored by Republican State Representative Steve Smith?

As we outlined yesterday, Republican state Representative Steve Smith is sponsoring some legislation that makes no damn sense to the rational mind.

For one, consider his sponsorship of a law that only allows public-school children to avoid reciting the pledge of allegiance if they have consent from their parents…

40 chadu  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:54:06pm

re: #37 BryanS

Ah, yes. Forgot that.

41 Gus  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:54:24pm

He was also a co-sponsor for that high school grad loyalty oath legislation.

42 BryanS  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:54:32pm

“If you don’t love this nation “

That part….just pure hate.

43 freetoken  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:54:35pm
44 Gus  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:55:01pm

Worse Proposal for Arizona Law: Loyalty Oath, or Pledge of Allegiance Requirement?

House Bill 2467, sponsored by Republican state Representatives Bob Thorpe, Sonny Borrelli, Carl Seel, T.J. Shope, and Steve Smith, proposes the following:

“Before a pupil is allowed to graduate from a public high school in this state, the principal or head teacher of the school shall verify in writing that the pupil has recited the following oath:

“I, _________, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge these duties; so help me God.”

45 jaunte  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:55:04pm

re: #41 Gus

Niedermeyer!!!

46 austin_blue  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:56:45pm

When do Kthulu and the Flying Spaghetti Monster get their turns? And what about Odin?

47 BryanS  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:57:20pm

re: #44 Gus

Worse Proposal for Arizona Law: Loyalty Oath, or Pledge of Allegiance Requirement?

That has to be high on any list of worse proposals for a law. Does it matter that this amounts to a forced religious pledge? How is that even close to Constitutional?

48 Gus  Wed, May 22, 2013 7:57:29pm

Glenn Spencer, Nativist Anti-Semite, Lectures State Senate Border Security Committee (w/Update) [Page 2]

…State Senators Al Melvin and Steve Smith went out of their way to praise Spencer and to criticize their Democratic colleagues for walking out.

Melvin called Spencer and his partner, whose name I didn’t catch, “two patriotic Americans that are trying to secure the border.”

Smith concurred, saying that he’d worked with Spencer extensively, and “never once has this man alluded to being a racist.”

Apparently, Smith has never bothered to investigate Spencer’s own site. Or maybe he has and figures everything Spencer’s said is hunky-dory…

49 teleskiguy  Wed, May 22, 2013 8:01:24pm
50 jaunte  Wed, May 22, 2013 8:02:14pm

re: #43 freetoken

Prepare for the outrage:

Michelle Obama, daughters to take extended vacation, report says

Michelle Malkin, et al, are already harvesting the outraged clicks.

51 Gus  Wed, May 22, 2013 8:05:45pm

Weird. Of course this is acceptable now in the new GOP. You know, the GOP that’s supposedly getting some kind of makeover or something. Whatever happened with that?

52 Charles Johnson  Wed, May 22, 2013 8:08:29pm

If the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet wasn’t working in Firefox … reinstall it, and everything is groovy now.

Notice that if you hover over the “CREATE A PAGE” button, it now shows you the last modified date of the bookmarklet, to help you stay up to date.

53 austin_blue  Wed, May 22, 2013 8:08:34pm

re: #50 jaunte

Michelle Malkin, et al, are already harvesting the outraged clicks.

A summer vacation at Martha’s Vineyard? Blasphemy! Damn them for their summer vacation!

Predicted response from the RWNJ’s;

“Maybe JFK Jr. can fly them there.”

Trust me, you will see it.

54 engineer cat  Wed, May 22, 2013 8:11:22pm

of course, as an atheist, i confine myself to repainting my sims

we’re a practical lot

55 engineer cat  Wed, May 22, 2013 8:14:49pm

re: #50 jaunte

Michelle Malkin, et al, are already harvesting the outraged clicks.

are outraged clicks anything like concupiscient curds?

please don’t tweet me, bro

56 jaunte  Wed, May 22, 2013 8:16:58pm
57 Targetpractice  Wed, May 22, 2013 8:21:32pm

re: #38 Gus

Steve Smith’s “Save Joe Arpaio’s Ass Bill” Passes State House, and, Oh, It’s Unconstitutional

Hell, I remember back when the Walker recall effort began, the media responding initially with doubt and suggestions that the effort would fall short because it’d been months since the union-busting and folks couldn’t keep themselves angry that long.

58 Gus  Wed, May 22, 2013 8:24:30pm

Speaking of God. My teeth (two actually) stopped hurting over the past hour! Thank you Lord! Thank you! Whew. Damn, mah head was exploding for almost a week.

59 engineer cat  Wed, May 22, 2013 8:32:22pm

call the writer of voluminous code,
the fishbelly white one, and bid him sling,
in prolix python prodigious procedures
let the QAs lounge about performing such integration tests as they are used to running, and let the managers write redundant memos in last year’s jargon
let twitter be the facebook of tweak
the only authorized release engineer quit last week

60 Targetpractice  Wed, May 22, 2013 8:33:05pm

Apparently the wingnuts haven’t learned from how badly they screwed the pooch on Benghazi, because now they’re working to try to make the IRS business all about “What did the White House know and when did it know it?!” They’re trying to act as though revelations in the past week that one or more persons in the White House knew about the IG’s upcoming report proves Obama “lied.”

61 bratwurst  Wed, May 22, 2013 8:33:16pm

re: #32 Gus

The idiot Smith starts at around 4:34.

Great googly moogly! A Hardball clip where Chris Matthews is clearly not the biggest blowhard on the screen!

62 Stanghazi  Wed, May 22, 2013 8:38:31pm

re: #58 Gus

Speaking of God. My teeth (two actually) stopped hurting over the past hour! Thank you Lord! Thank you! Whew. Damn, mah head was exploding for almost a week.

Dude. I had to get a root canal awhile back. I still remember that pain before i went in. I seriously thought I wasn’t going to make it. Thinking of ya.

63 darthstar  Wed, May 22, 2013 8:47:58pm

I want a credit card that, when I put it on the bar to pay my bill, shoots sparks into the air, lets off a foul smell, and has a high pitched whistle. I hate when not one, but two bartenders, walk by a credit card three times EACH without bothering to pick it up and charge me. And when I finally do reach out and wave my hand in their field of vision, I’d appreciate it if they didn’t act like I insulted their mother.

/rant off

64 Gus  Wed, May 22, 2013 8:51:04pm

re: #62 Stanghazi

Dude. I had to get a root canal awhile back. I still remember that pain before i went in. I seriously thought I wasn’t going to make it. Thinking of ya.

It’s mind boggling sometimes. Getting a root canal (or an extraction) is a cake walk compared to dealing with the pain.

65 Flavia  Thu, May 23, 2013 9:28:19am

Speaking as a believer in G-d, I would just like to say “Well done, Rep. Mendez!!!”

66 JeffFX  Thu, May 23, 2013 9:38:22am

re: #2 thedopefishlives

No disrespect, but that statement is more than just a little overbroad. However, this disgraceful display of public Pharasaicism is absolutely disgusting.

In what situation is wanting to repent to your imaginary friend not insane?


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