For more than 200 years it has been standard fare for Congress and various state legislatures to begin their sessions with an opening prayer. Invoking the guidance of God in affairs of government is an idea fostered by our founding fathers. In recent years we’ve seen that tradition muddied by in the inclusion of non-Judeo-Christian invocations. Now, the Arizona state legislature has taken such political correctness a step further. Arizona State Rep. Juan Mendez recently opened a House session with, not a prayer for Divine help, but a quote from the late science guru Carl Sagan.
Most 20 and 30-somethings are too young to remember the telegenic astronomer, cosmologist, and author who was a staple on PBS-TV in the 80s, avidly promoting evolution and the idea of extraterrestrial life in his “Cosmos” series. In his more than 20 books he pushed the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. Sagan, who died in 1996, was famous for postulating that with “billions and billions” of stars and galaxies in the universe, there must be life somewhere. On a personal level he went through three marriages, regularly smoked pot, and was not bashful about attack both Judaism (his heritage) and Christianity. He wrote: “I do not know of any compelling evidence for anthropomorphic patriarchs controlling human destiny from some hidden celestial vantage point . . . when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined is surely spiritual.” Well, isn’t that special.
This is the guy whose words Rep. Mendez thought were more important than an appeal to deity. He quoted Sagan saying, “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” Then Mendez added, “I hope Arizona’s non-believers can feel as welcome here as believers.” I’m sure they do. And so should Satan now that the words of a mere man have trumped appeals to the Almighty.