Delivered June 6, 2023
Good morning Judge and commissioners.
In order to ensure the open and free exchange of ideas the Founding Fathers of our nation place the freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition at the forefront of protected liberties as part of the First Amendment to the Constitution.
The First Amendment includes specific protections dealing with the practice of religion of one’s choice and protecting the individual from forced religious beliefs or practices so long as they do no harm to others. This includes the assurance that anyone, regardless of their belief or non-belief, can present an opening message before government bodies such as this one.
The former Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo spoke eloquently in El Paso as the featured guest speaker for the El Paso Holocaust Museum. He said: "I protect my right to be a Catholic by preserving your right to believe as a Jew, a Protestant or a non-believer, or anything else you choose. We know that the price of seeking to force our beliefs on others is that they might someday force theirs on us.”
In his nomination speech, at the national convention, an as-yet to be president said: “There is not a black America or a White America, a Christian America a Jewish America. There is a United States of America” That nominee went on to become the two-term President Barack Obama.
The United States of America is a nation under one flag that represents a very diverse people with the yet to be realized promise of liberty and justice for all.
We do not need to know a person’s religion in order to respect them. We simply need to know that they are trustworthy, true to their word, respectful of differences of opinion.
President Joe Biden often refers to the soul of America. He says that the soul of America is the ability to live our lives unencumbered by doctrine and free of fear for practicing our faith.
In this shared moment, we express gratitude for the gift of life and the limitless possibilities it presents. May we be open to the wonder and beauty that surround us, finding inspiration in the simplest of things. With a renewed sense of purpose, let us go forth into the world, radiating positivity, compassion and love. May our collective energy create a ripple effect, touching the lives of many and inspiring a brighter more harmonious future.
We know and accept that the power that guides us and speaks to our soul, matters only to each of us as an individual. That which brings us comfort and hope is ours alone.
May you guide with an easy hand, teach with gentleness, and follow with open-mindedness and a desire to understand.
May you have the courage to be vulnerable and to accept dissent. May you lead us with honesty and integrity, guided by rational thought and critical thinking.
Let us all work together to push out hate and division during these often difficult days, and supplant it with love, honesty, justice and peace.
I hope you each have a wonderful week. Thank you.
The all-inclusive invocation does not invoke a diety, or promote the beliefs of one religion while excluding the beliefs of others. The invocation reflects the diversity of people that make up our community and calls upon the city leaders to embrace the whole of their constituency.