The Harry Potter books may have stopped at seven but they’re still making headlines.
During the beginning of a city council meeting in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, an atheist delivered the opening invocation in a unique and inspirational way. Amanda Novotny, the president of Siouxland Freethinkers, asked everyone to raise their heads and look around the room where town leaders have been making decisions on behalf of the community for years. After asking that all voices be heard equally, Novotny read a quote by Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire before talking about our differences and how we can achieve great things by overcoming them.
Here is the full transcript of the invocation via The Friendly Atheist.
Thank you Mr. Mayor, Council members, citizens of Sioux Falls, and all those present for this opportunity to provide an inspirational opening to your meeting.
Often at this time, you are asked to bow your heads. Instead, I ask you to lift your head up and look around. Turn your attention to this room — a room that has heard countless discussions, frustrations, and successes; a room where important decisions regarding your city are routinely made.
Now take a moment to soak in the presence of the men and women in this room, gathered here at this time and place to engage in their civic duty, to contribute and work towards creating a better community. Think of the hundreds and thousands of others who are also affected by the ideas shared here. Let all voices be heard and understood equally.
It is also often customary to read from a book during an invocation, and tonight will be no different — I’ll be sharing a quote from J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” in which Professor Albus Dumbledore said:
“Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.”
Although our differences may be many, we are bound together in similarity as members of the human species. As humans, we have the capacity to appreciate and thank each other; to utilize compassion and reason in our decision making. I ask those present to join me in showing gratitude to the men and women that serve the great city of Sioux Falls. We need only look to each other for guidance, and work together to overcome any challenges we may face.
Mayor Mike Huether approved Novotny’s request to give an opening “non-theist prayer” in front of the council in May. And she did a beautiful job. Her prayer included everyone. It was inspirational. And it proves that conservative “Christians” have no ground to stand on when they demonize atheists. For if there is a God, he or she would have surely loved listening to what Novotny had to say.