Courtney is an atheist. Courtney supported the lawsuit against the town's policy of holding prayers before its board meetings. The Supreme Court ruled secular prayers are acceptable at government meetings.
Courtney explained to News 8 why he wanted to give the invocation.
"When I heard Justice Scalia answer the rhetorical question, 'What would a prayer from a non-believe sound like? What would an invocation from an atheist sound like?' I realize that he could not even, pulling from the depths of his imagination, come up with an understanding of what a non-believer's invocation would sound like and I thought this was really a problem," Courtney said.
What does an atheist say in an invocation?
"What I'm going to be invoking is an idea, an idea that we can all have in common as citizens and as Americans. Obviously, not invoking a deity, but again that idea. I'm going to be invoking part of the Declaration of Independence and expressing how that idea looks to the people to gain authority for the governing body. And I think in that sense they should be bringing us together instead of this sectarian type of invocation, which divides us."
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