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Supreme Court ruling prompts atheists to offer secular invocations

Monday - 5/5/2014, 6:40pm  ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court decision allowing sectarian prayers before government meetings is prompting atheists to offer secular invocations.

The court ruled 5-4 that invocations can refer to Jesus Christ or other religious figures as long as there's no effort to proselytize or denigrate others, and as long as officials make a good-faith effort at inclusion.

The American Humanist Association is responding by signing up volunteers to offer secular invocations. Examples of such invocations on its website typically ask people at government meetings to open their eyes and think about their responsibilities instead of bowing their heads in prayer.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is offering an award for the best secular invocation.

Sound:

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234-a-08-(Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, in AP interview)-"across the country"-Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, says non-religious citizens will volunteer to give more invocations. (5 May 2014)

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233-a-12-(Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, in AP interview)-"their local board"-Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, says her organization is calling for secular invocations before public meetings. (5 May 2014)

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235-r-14-(State Rep. Juan Mendez, D-Ariz., delivering secular invocation on May 21, 2013)-"of our state"-Sound of Arizona state Representative Juan Mendez delivering a secular invocation in the state House on May 21, 2013. (5 May 2014)

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231-a-10-(David Cortman, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, in prepared statement)-"for their communities"-David Cortman, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, says the Supreme Court was right to uphold prayers before government meetings. (5 May 2014)

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