The night was August 5, 2014.  With knees knocking Amanda Novotony stepped to the microphone to deliver “words of inspiration” to the Sioux Falls City Council. 

It was the first time ever that a non-religious invocation was given prior to a Council meeting at Carnegie Town Hall.  As President of the Siouxland Free Thinkers group she was compelled to use the opportunity to give a humanistic beginning to official city business.

Her invocation was eventually submitted to the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and was chosen as a finalist among 14 other such examples from across the country.  Novotony who currently resides in Brookings captured one of three awards for Best Secular Invocation although she would technically call it an opening.  “A lot of people have called it the ‘Harry Potter Prayer,’ but it was not a prayer in any way.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the town of Greece, NY did not violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause by opening its meetings with sectarian prayer.  As a result, more people such as Novotony stepped forward to pursue this opportunity with their local entities.

For her efforts, Novotony will be asked to speak before the FFRF’s national convention in Los Angeles this coming October.  “This will be a little bit bigger.  I need to work on my message over the next month.”  Being a graduate of South Dakota State University, Novotony does regret that the conference runs at the same time as Hobo Day.

She does have plans on attempting a similar message during a future South Dakota Legislative session in 2015.

If you would like to see the award winning “Harry Potter Prayer,” you can watch the clip below.