Maine Senate, Feb. 15, 2018
Tom Waddell, president of FFRF’s Maine chapter, has now opened sessions of both the Maine House and the Maine Senate by reading a secular invocation, both believed to be firsts.
On Feb. 7, 2017, Waddell spoke before the Maine House and was then honored by FFRF with its “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” award, given out at FFRF’s annual convention.
This year, Waddell took it to the Senate, where he delivered the invocation on Feb. 15.
“Waddell made no reference to God or Jesus in his brief remarks, as many of the invocations that open sessions of the Maine Legislature do,” wrote Charles Eichacker of CentralMaine.com.
Waddell was invited to give the invocation by state Sen. Shenna Bellows, who said in an interview that she has tried to bring an array of people with religious and nonreligious views into the statehouse.
“The invocation before the Senate is supposed to be open to all people of all faiths, including no faith,” said Bellows, the former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine. “I think that religious liberty is a founding principle in our country.”
Here are Waddell’s remarks:
Good morning. I am Tom Waddell, president of the Maine Chapter of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. We support everyone’s religious freedom by advocating for the separation of church and state.
As you fulfill the Senate’s solemn responsibility of making decisions that will affect everyone who lives in Maine, I urge you to rely on — and trust in — the collective character, honesty and integrity of your colleagues for guidance, today and every day.
The wisdom of our Founding Fathers has much to offer, as well, and I would like to close with words from two American presidents:
Thomas Jefferson reminds us that: “The purpose of government is to enable the people of a nation (or state) to live in safety and happiness. Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors.”
John Quincy Adams inspires us with: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
Thank you all for the sacrifices each of you have made to be a member of the Maine Senate. We, the people of Maine, appreciate and rely on your collective wisdom and the personal commitment you have made to Maine’s future.