Robert Ray, President of the HNPS Delivered the opening Invocation to the Washington State House of Representatives on 13 April 2015.
I would like to open this invocation by asking everyone look around you. Beside you, in front of you and behind you, is a person that is, in so many ways, the same as you. We may have different backgrounds and beliefs. We may come from different ethnicity and religions. But when it comes down to it we are all sharing the same speck of dust floating through a vast and wondrous universe
Many have come before me in this chamber to speak of their faith. But I would, instead, like to speak of trust. Of trust in humanity, trust in the fundamental good will within people. Trust that we all yearn to make the world a better place. Trust that some can answer to a higher calling. A calling many of us have in common, that is to serve our fellow humans to the best of our ability. I have trust that everyone in this chamber has felt this or you would not be here.
With that being said. I also ask that you use your trust in the same way that I have described. Reach out to one another. Try to understand and have empathy with those you may disagree with. Make an honest attempt at compromise, for that is what our secular government is based on.
With today being the 272nd birthday of Thomas Jefferson, I felt I should honor his memory with a quote
“He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”
So I thank you for this opportunity to bring my message of trust, humanity and Humanism into this chamber.
And I will end with this simple phrase.
E Pluribus Unum.
[tentblogger-youtube E_38B6yinmw]On Sept. 8, Humanist Celebrant, Robert Ray, delivered the first humanist invocation to the Marysville City Council meeting.
First off, let me thank you for the opportunity to provide a Humanist Invocation to begin your deliberations today. As this body convenes to do the business of the city, instead of lowering your heads in prayer, I suggest that you look ahead, with anticipation and enthusiasm, for the task set before you. A task charged to you by the people of Marysville.
It has finally happened. The SCOTUS has come down against individual rights in favor of corporate personhood by effectively saying that corporations have the same right religious freedom as “natural” people.
In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that for profit business can deny contraception coverage to women because they have a religious objection to it. Luckily this ruling only applies to contraception by claiming that the government could provide an alternative to the employer provided option.
After reading Justice Scalia’s decision, it becomes very clear where he stand on both religious liberty and corporate personhood. By stating that the concept the business may have a religious belief as in the ruling made in Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, which coincidentally, the decision in that case was written by Justice Scalia, he has opened the gates for companies to deny coverage for things they have a religious objection to. Scalia has reinforced this claim that corporations have the same rights an actual people.
While this ruling is aim specifically at contraception, as stated in section 3-c-3
“This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to hold that all insurance-coverage mandates, e.g., for vaccinations or blood transfusions, must necessarily fall if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs. Nor does it provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination as a religious practice,”
This decision will give a precedent for other private corporation to sue for the ability to deny coverage to their employees. For instance, if a corporation is identifying as Jehovah’s Witnesses, there is the possibility that they could refuse to cover the cost of an emergency blood transfusion, leaving the employee to pay that bill out of pocket. It is also feasible that a Christian Science corporation to deny medical coverage entirely.
While these are extremes, they are entirely in line with the Hobby Lobby decision. However one implication that may actually come to pass is the spousal benefits. The question here is would religiously affiliated companies be allowed to deny coverage to same-sex spouses? I predict that this will be in the courts within the next few years.
In her dissent, Justice Ginsburg, noted that an amendment to the ACA was voted down in the Senate prior the passing of the bill. Labeled the “Conscience Amendment”, it would have allowed employers and providers to “deny coverage based on its asserted religious belief or moral conviction” Since this amendment failed it become apparent that the bill was never intended to allow this sort of practice.
She also wrote the requirement to provide coverage for contraception is not a command for the corporation to purchase and provide it to its employees. Ginsburg states
“Instead it call on the companies covered by the requirement to direct money to the undifferentiated funds that finance a wide variety of benefits under the comprehensive health plan”
According to her, this does not impinge on the religious freedom of the owners and operators any more than the payment of taxes which is used for other religiously objectionable spending by the government. As she pointed out that in previous cases the Court has ruled in against those claiming religious exemption to Social Security numbers and their use. (Bowen v. Roy, 476 U. S. 693
Commenting the implications of this precedent , Ginsberg states:
“Would the exemption the Court holds RFRA demands for employers with religiously grounded objections to the use of certain contraceptives extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations (Christian Scientists, among others)?31 According to counsel for Hobby Lobby, “each one of these cases . . . would have to be evaluated on its own . . . apply[ing] the compelling interest-least restrictive alternative test.” Tr. of Oral Arg. 6. Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision”
As I stated earlier, the flood gates of lawsuits have been opened.
Grandmother Fish teaches preschoolers to love the idea that we are descended from animals. Can you wiggle like a fish?
Grandmother Fish is the first book to teach evolution to preschoolers. While listening to the story, the child mimics the motions and sounds of our ancestors, such as wiggling like a fish or hooting like an ape. Like magic, evolution becomes fun, accessible, and personal. Grandmother Fish will be a full-size (10 x 8), full-color, 32-page, hardback book full of appealing animal illustrations, perfect for your bookshelf. US publishers consider evolution to be too “hot” a topic for children, but with your help we can make this book happen yourself.
You can help fund this campaign by clicking on the link below.