Story by RJ Redden, OA Roving Reporter, Civic Activist
I know you're dying to know, so here's my report. Nine people braved the hellacious thunderstorms in support of Robert and OA tonight. I know that there were more who wanted to come, but I was very proud of our turnout, and proud to be an OA member.
The group of us sat in the first two rows. Before we sat down, we talked a little with Amanda Knief of American Atheists about the Pledge of Allegiance, which is how the meeting is opened. Some people choose to sit during the Pledge, as many nonbelievers have issues with the "under God" phrase. For the first time in my life, I sat during the Pledge. As I thought more about it, it just seemed like the right thing to do. I remember being a kid in Catholic school, repeating things by rote that I didn't understand or believe in. Thanks to OA, I don't have to do that anymore.
Robert went around to all the Council members and introduced himself before the meeting started. I know it took courage to do such a thing, and Robert handled it well.
I found myself smiling a lot during the meeting. Smiling is my favorite way to change public perception of atheism. During the meeting, awards were given and proclamations were made. It was all pretty normal stuff. Taxes, pension plans, and resolutions. Oh, My!
The rain pounded away on the roof. A new Council member took an oath of office. He was asked to give a little background on himself, and I found it interesting that he referenced his wife, uncle, and children before he started going into his qualifications as a Council member. Also, from what I gathered at the meeting, Council members appear to go through an interview and selection process, rather than being elected. That was very interesting to me.
Finally, Robert spoke. He talked about being an atheist, and that there's a community of us out here. I'll leave the exact details of what he said up to him (hope to be reading about it in his blog soon). I will say that you could have heard a pin drop the whole time he was talking, and that continued until he sat down.
Another person got up to speak, the pastor that attended our Meet An Atheist pot luck last night. He talked about the protests (the first ever protests in the La Vista City Hall parking lot) and he talked about meeting us down in the park. He was rather pleasant, actually.
That wrapped up the meeting. A few people stuck around to talk to the pastor, with some success. He appears to genuinely want to listen, and although he might not see things our way at the moment, there's definitely some willingness to see things from a different perspective.
I don't know how much La Vista Daze will change as a result of recent events, but I know this. Attending the Council meeting tonight changed me. Change takes commitment, and long term change takes long term commitment. The expressions of support for Robert, both inside and outside our local area, have changed the way I think about my world, and I now feel more encouraged to stand up for what I believe in.