Just imagine -- a program of classical music is planned featuring leading classical musicians. Why, then, would anyone be troubled that rappers, punk rockers, and country bands are excluded from the program? After all, they don't do what the event is about. To include them would change the nature of the event into a mockery of its stated goals and purpose.
That is my reaction to this silly press release regarding the pre-inaugural prayer service for Washington's new mayor excluding atheist, agnostic, and humanist groups that do not recognize the existence of God and therefore do not pray.
December 28, 2010 (Washington, D.C.) – Atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other nontheistic Washington, D.C. residents will have no representation at Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray’s first official inaugural event—an ecumenical prayer service entitled “One City … Praying Together” at 8 a.m. Sunday, January 2, 2011.
“We would prefer that a government function such as an inauguration not be entwined with religion,” said Amanda Knief, a Humanist Celebrant and government relations manager for the Secular Coalition for America (SCA). “However, we find it overtly discriminatory when we request to be part of an ecumenical prayer service that is supposed to unite the entire city and are told there is no place for nontheists.”
Within hours of learning about the prayer service through a public press release on Monday, December 20, SCA contacted the mayor-elect’s transition team to request that a Humanist Celebrant be included. After two days of repeated requests, a representative told SCA that the program for the prayer service was set and that nontheists would not be included.
Apparently they wanted to have non-prayerful words of encouragement from that "Humanist Celebrant". All well and good, but given that the specific purpose of the event was PRAYER, it didn't belong there, anymore than a group of cloggers belong on stage during a performance of Swan Lake.