HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – This may be a first for Huntsville. An atheist is scheduled to give the invocation at Thursday’s city council meeting.
Critics have attacked the city for how city council invocation invitations have been handled. In June, a Wiccan priest was removed from the agenda after the city faced a backlash over a decision to have him offer the opening prayer.
Kelly McCauley hopes the city won’t cave to such pressure this week.
A board member of the North Alabama Freethought Association, McCauley reached out to the Interfaith Mission Service expressing his desire to go before the council.
“I think it’s important not to exclude segments of our population that may have minority views on matters of religion, and to have someone excluded from that is not a good way to govern people,” said McCauley.
In 2012, Huntsville was under fire by the Freedom From Religion Foundation over their tradition of inviting mostly Christian ministers to deliver the public prayer.
The city, under threat of a lawsuit, created a list of religious leaders to offer the invocation. It wasn’t until last year non-religious speakers were added to the list.
McCauley hopes the fear of having a non-Christian deliver the invocation will soon fade, and is encouraged by the city’s steps to be inclusive.
“It makes me feel like Huntsville is a better place to live in,” said McCauley. “A place where people can feel welcomed and can participate in their community.”
So what does McCauley plan to say in his non-sectarian invocation?
“I hope to draw on virtues from secular sources, philosophy and ideas that inspire me and maybe some quotes from the founding fathers.”
City leaders say they’ve already received some complaints about McCauley’s planned invocation, however, he is still on the agenda.