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Text of atheist prayer given in Arizona House

(AP) – An atheist lawmaker’s daily prayer Tuesday at the Arizona House of Representatives led a fellow lawmaker to ask for a do-over the following day.

Democratic Rep. Juan Mendez of Tempe said he was looking for a way to convey his feelings like other members do when they participate in the prayer rotation at the beginning of the daily floor session. Rep. Steve Smith (R-Maricopa) on Wednesday said the prayer wasn’t a prayer at all.

The complete text of Mendez’s prepared remarks is below:

“Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads. I would like to ask you not to bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people of our state.

“This room in which there are many challenging debates, many moments of tension, of ideological division, of frustration. But this is also a room where, as my Secular Humanist tradition stresses, by the very fact of being human, we have much more in common than we have differences. We share the same spectrum of potential for care, for compassion, for fear, for joy, for love.

“Carl Sagan once wrote, `For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.’ There is, in the political process, much to bear. In this room, let us cherish and celebrate our shared humanness, our shared capacity for reason and compassion, our shared love for the people of our state, for our Constitution and for our democracy_ and let us root our policymaking process in these values that are relevant to all Arizonans regardless of religious belief or nonbelief. In gratitude and in love, in reason and in compassion, let us work together for a better Arizona.”

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