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The First Invocation Delivered By An Atheist At A Greece Town Bd. Meeting

Randy Gorbman

The town of Greece board meeting got a lot of media attention Tuesday night. But  not because of anything on the actual agenda. It was the invocation before the meeting got underway that got all of the publicity.

That invocation was given by Hamlin resident Dan Courtney, who became the first atheist to deliver what is usually a prayer that precedes Greece Town Board meetings. He asked to give his non-religious invocation after the Supreme Court upheld the town's tradition of having prayers at the beginning of meetings.

The High Court upheld that practice as long as the town does not discriminate against minority faiths or non-believers.

After the invocation, Courtney said that he hopes this leads to less discrimination against atheists.

"In part, this is an opportunity for us to get the word out that we are your neighbors, co-workers, we're in the public, we're just like anybody else, we have the same wishes and dreams that everyone else does and we want to be included in the process."

Courtney hopes he can be invited back to give the invocation again. A number of his supporters showed up at the board meeting. There was a single protestor carrying a sign outside the meeting that said ' Jesus Saves."  That Rochester man said he does not believe what Courtney offered can really be treated the same as an invocation since it was non-religious.