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Secular opening to Greece town meeting
Greece, N.Y. - The Greece board room was filled with onlookers and supporters, most of them represented various humanist groups to support Dan Courtney.
Tuesday night, Courtney became the first atheist to deliver an invocation before a town public meeting.
In May, the Greece town board won the right to open its meetings with prayer, as long as it didnt discriminate.
This group represents a significant part of our population so I'm honored to deliver the invocation, Courtney told the crowd.
Courtney's speech focused on acceptance of all and made references to the countrys founding fathers.
So I ask all officials present here, as guarantors of our founder's revolutionary proclamation, to heed the counsel of the governed; to seek the wisdom of all citizens and to honor the enlightened wisdom and the profound courage of those 56 brave men, said Courtney.
There was opposition at Tuesday nights meeting.
One man carried a sign that read, Jesus saves, ye must be born again.
The onlooker who didnt want to share his name told 13WHAM News it was important to attend the board meeting to share his beliefs.
It's about a tradition. It was important for me to defend traditions I feel undergird our nation.
Courtney and the groups represented say this is a first step and want the public to recognize who atheists are and their rights.
We wanted Rochester and Greece and the communities to know we're here and not going to be quiet, Sue Lione, a member of The Atheist Community of Rochester said.
It's an ongoing step, Courtney said. Atheist, non-believers have been discriminated against for a long time so in part this an opportunity for us to get the word out that we are your neighbors, your co-workers. We're just like anybody else.
Courtney says overall, he felt the invocation went well and he says he hopes to come back and speak again.