What is a Humanist Invocation?
The concept of a humanist invocation is quite simple: It is a short speech that calls upon the audience’s shared human values for assistance and authority in their public discourse. Unlike a traditional invocation, a humanist invocation does not call upon a supernatural entity as a guide. Instead, it redirects our attention towards those common human values that we do in fact share for guidance. A humanist invocation seeks to foster connection between the people in the room and emphasizes the bounds within which our public discourse should be held, without disenfranchising certain groups. In a sense it is calling upon all those involved to exercise their humanity in a way that is dignified while allowing the same for others. Above all, it reminds us of what is important by constricting a shared vision of a higher purpose–namely, our responsibilities to each other and the world around us.
Where Are These Invocations Held?
Generally, invocations are performed before important public events. These events can include the inauguration of a public official, the start of a public meeting, etc. They are widely performed during government proceedings, but unfortunately they tend to be overwhelmingly sectarian and theistic. While they are normally required to be non-denominational, that alone doesn’t ensure that it is applicable to all, especially since non-denominational invocations still tend to invoke supernatural entities. For public, government events, it makes sense to go one step further towards secular invocations.