On Wednesday (Jan. 5, 2011) an atheist will give the invocation at a Colorado city council meeting for the first time ever. The Western Colorado Atheists & Freethinkers (WCAF) have worked for the last two years to participate in the Grand Junction City Council's meetings. In 2008 WCAF studied the prior invocations and noted that 90 percent of the invocations before the council were Christian with a token Jew about 10 percent of the time.
WCAF first asked the council to ban specific deities names' from the public prayers. The atheists had good reasons for their request. The name of Jesus or Allah or any other deity is not inclusive. A city council is not like a church, synagogue or mosque; it is supposed to include all citizens. When people pray in the name of one deity before a city council meeting, believers in other deities and non-believers are excluded.
The City Council refused WCAF's request but came up with an alternative. They decided to make the process more inclusive by opening the invocation process to more community groups. Finally the atheists will have their turn. This is a good compromise option that should be adopted around the country as long as governments continue to open their meetings with prayers.