Secular invocation: Donald B. Ardell

Donald B. Ardell

St. Pete Beach, Fla.

City Commission

Nov. 28, 2017

Donald Ardell

FFRF Member Donald Ardell writes: “Knowing the mayor of St. Pete Beach, a fellow triathlete and good friend, I managed an invitation to deliver an invocation. I enjoyed the experience.”

Here is his invocation:

I rise to offer a secular invocation that speaks to all citizens of St. Pete Beach. No need to bow your heads or close your eyes to consider a few reflections upon ideals and values that permanently unite, as opposed to temporal issues that momentarily separate us — in St. Pete Beach and elsewhere in America.

We share values that override by many times the hot-button issues of the day that divide us.

Yes, the people of this town, like Americans in the great cities and rural communities across the land, have varying passions about our leaders and our political parties. We have very different preferences, for or against choices surrounding topics such as gun control, health care, taxation, family planning, immigration, global warming and religious privileges — and even a few not-so-great issues, like whether football players should be allowed to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem.

But the ideals and values we share can and surely will override these temporal perturbations. I refer to ideals and values not found in holy books, but in the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. I refer to values concerning human rights, safeguards in favor of the family, provisions for education of the young, care for the health and well-being of all our people, support for critical thought, for reason and science and the pursuit of happiness.

These secular treasures give us our moral guides, regardless of which religions, if any, we embrace.

America’s greatest orator of the 19th century, Robert Green Ingersoll, suggested that intellectual liberty is our surest moral guide. Such intelligence leads to the growth of the ethical, of the idea of justice, of conscience, of charity and of self-denial, when necessary, for the common good.

Such liberty is as holy as our Constitution, as sacred as our flag. It is the blossom and fruit of justice, the perfume of mercy. Intellectual liberty, in summary, is the seed and soil, the air and light, the dew and rain of American progress, love and joy. 

If you have recently given a secular invocation, please join FFRF’s Nothing Fails Like Prayer contest.