For the first time the Lubbock city council opened their meeting with an invocation from an Atheist Thursday afternoon. Tracey Benefield, a member of the Atheist Community of Lubbock, says she was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
“There were a lot of Christians that would come up to me and say good luck, and overall there was so much support for us,” said Benefield.
However, there were plenty in the audience who weren’t so happy with her message.
“There is no reason to put her in that position of authority at the front of the line to give the invocation,” said Skeet Workman, a member of Pray America. “I am not being hateful, it’s just that an invocation should be a prayer.”
Workman insists Benefield should be allowed to speak at the meetings as a citizen commenter, but the invocation should have been led from a faith community.
“The council should have let her come, but also say that we are not going to give up our prayer to God for wisdom in the decisions we make,” said Workman.
Instead the council released a new policy allowing anyone to give the invocation. Jake Maxwell, a paster at Second Baptist Church says this will be good for the community.
“How many times have people had to sit and listen to me when they might not necessarily agree?” said Maxwell. “I think it’s a beautiful community practice for us to listen to one another.
People on both sides seem to agree as Workman and Benefield exchanged emails with each other to discuss their beliefs and listen to each other.
“I have no ill will to her, I only want to hear her story and share God’s love with her,” said Workman.
“I appreciate people in the community wanting to hear more from us, and allowing us to be a part of this community,” said Benefield.