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Subject: Only in America do we elect mayors this dense. rss

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Jon Badolato
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Suit Challenges City's Denial of Equal Public Space To Atheist

The ACLU today announced the filing of a lawsuit against the city of Warren, Michigan on behalf of an atheist who was refused space for a table in the atrium of city hall for a "reason station," even though the city has permitted a local pastor to operate a "prayer station" in the atrium since 2009. The complaint (full text) in Marshall v. City of Warren, (ED MI, filed 7/23/2014), sets out free speech and establishment clause challenges based largely on the letter sent by the city's mayor denying plaintiff's request. The letter reads in part:

It is my understanding that you are affiliated with Freedom from Religion, a group that has objected to the Nativity Scene, the Prayer Station in the atrium and the Annual Day of Prayer in front of city hall.
All of these events are allowed because of the right to freedom of religion constitutional amendment. We cannot and will not restrict this right for any religion to use the atrium, as long as the activity is open to all religions. Freedom from Religion is not a religion. It has no tenets, no place of worship and no congregation. To my way of thinking, your group is strictly an anti-religion group intending to deprive all organized religions of their constitutional freedoms or at least discourage the practice of religion. The City of Warren cannot allow this.

Also, I believe it is your group’s intention to disrupt those who participate in the Prayer Station which would also be a violation of the freedom of religion amendment.
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No, not only America by any means.

It sounds like, if he's worried about disruption, that in the end the judge will allow the table but impose restrictions to avoid disruption. Everyone will then go home and ironically tell their children about working and playing nicely with others.
 
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I would go up to the reason station with a Dell logic problem magazine, open up to one of the five-star puzzles and ask "Can you help me with this?"
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Jon Badolato
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What I see as more likely is the town excluding all tables or displays of any type rather than allowing the atheists to have one as well.
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Jon Badolato
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GameCrossing wrote:
I would go up to the reason station with a Dell logic problem magazine, open up to one of the five-star puzzles and ask "Can you help me with this?"


LOL !
 
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jonb wrote:
What I see as more likely is the town excluding all tables or displays of any type rather than allowing the atheists to have one as well.


Yeah, that will certainly be the end game, which I believe is what most atheists really want. I think most don't want equal time so much as they want the removal of religion from any public forum, and they've learned that requesting equal time is the best way to make that happen.
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GameCrossing wrote:
jonb wrote:
What I see as more likely is the town excluding all tables or displays of any type rather than allowing the atheists to have one as well.


Yeah, that will certainly be the end game, which I believe is what most atheists really want. I think most don't want equal time so much as they want the removal of religion from any public forum, and they've learned that requesting equal time is the best way to make that happen.


Yup, that's most atheists for you. Always pissing everywhere and hoping it lands in somebody's Cheerios besides their own.

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Pintsizepete wrote:
GameCrossing wrote:
jonb wrote:
What I see as more likely is the town excluding all tables or displays of any type rather than allowing the atheists to have one as well.


Yeah, that will certainly be the end game, which I believe is what most atheists really want. I think most don't want equal time so much as they want the removal of religion from any public forum, and they've learned that requesting equal time is the best way to make that happen.


Yup, that's most atheists for you. Always pissing everywhere and hoping it lands in somebody's Cheerios besides their own.



Fine... I spoke poorly. I made the mistake of making it sound like all atheists are like these aggro activist atheists. I'll own that one.
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GameCrossing wrote:
Pintsizepete wrote:
GameCrossing wrote:
jonb wrote:
What I see as more likely is the town excluding all tables or displays of any type rather than allowing the atheists to have one as well.


Yeah, that will certainly be the end game, which I believe is what most atheists really want. I think most don't want equal time so much as they want the removal of religion from any public forum, and they've learned that requesting equal time is the best way to make that happen.


Yup, that's most atheists for you. Always pissing everywhere and hoping it lands in somebody's Cheerios besides their own.



Fine... I spoke poorly. I made the mistake of making it sound like all atheists are like these aggro activist atheists. I'll own that one.


I'll take it.

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Jon Badolato
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Shushnik wrote:
Are you aware that Toronto is not part of America?


Not sure if this was directed at me, but the lawsuit is against the town of Warren Michigan.
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James King
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jonb wrote:
Suit Challenges City's Denial of Equal Public Space To Atheist

The ACLU today announced the filing of a lawsuit against the city of Warren, Michigan on behalf of an atheist who was refused space for a table in the atrium of city hall for a "reason station," even though the city has permitted a local pastor to operate a "prayer station" in the atrium since 2009. The complaint (full text) in Marshall v. City of Warren, (ED MI, filed 7/23/2014), sets out free speech and establishment clause challenges based largely on the letter sent by the city's mayor denying plaintiff's request. The letter reads in part:

It is my understanding that you are affiliated with Freedom from Religion, a group that has objected to the Nativity Scene, the Prayer Station in the atrium and the Annual Day of Prayer in front of city hall. All of these events are allowed because of the right to freedom of religion constitutional amendment. We cannot and will not restrict this right for any religion to use the atrium, as long as the activity is open to all religions. Freedom from Religion is not a religion. It has no tenets, no place of worship and no congregation. To my way of thinking, your group is strictly an anti-religion group intending to deprive all organized religions of their constitutional freedoms or at least discourage the practice of religion. The City of Warren cannot allow this.

Also, I believe it is your group’s intention to disrupt those who participate in the Prayer Station which would also be a violation of the freedom of religion amendment.

Ironically, there are atheist groups which do have regular or periodic congregational meetings that are carried on very much like a religious service. And indeed, some of these groups have their own atheist hymns which more often than not utilize the original melodies of Christian hymns, only reworded to praise their own atheist beliefs.

I don't know if Atheist groups qualify as religious groups though. (Advocates of Humanism might qualify as a religion though.) Although I would think that they wouldn't want to viewed as a religious group, I believe that as far as access to the Public Square/Sphere goes, Atheist groups want to be afforded the freedom to advocate their views in the Public Square/Sphere.

Advocates of Dominion theology who pervade the leadership of the various Tea Parties believe that only "True Christians" by their definition are genuinely afforded the rights and protections of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.


 
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It's funny to me that atheists simultaneously insist that they aren't religious and demand the legal protections associated with religion.

Atheists are religious, of course, which is why they're entitled to the legal protections thereof. But it's still a little humorous to me.
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Jon Badolato
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twomillionbucks wrote:
It's funny to me that atheists simultaneously insist that they aren't religious and demand the legal protections associated with religion.

Atheists are religious, of course, which is why they're entitled to the legal protections thereof. But it's still a little humorous to me.


You misinterpret their intent. It's not their intent to be seen as a religion and thus be accorded the same rights as a religion. They are merely asking that if the government allow religious groups to use the city hall venue, that they also be allowed to use it.

They are merely asking for equal treatment. If the city is going to let religious groups use it then they should allow any group to use it. Why does an organization have to be religious to use a city hall venue ?? Are they the only ones that should be allowed to use a venue ??
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Jon Badolato
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Yes, once BJ mentioned it. I thought you were referencing this case rather than the generic statement in my title. My bad.

OK, we will let Canadians in on the game as well.
 
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twomillionbucks wrote:
It's funny to me that atheists simultaneously insist that they aren't religious and demand the legal protections associated with religion.

Atheists are religious, of course, which is why they're entitled to the legal protections thereof. But it's still a little humorous to me.


GameCrossing wrote:
jonb wrote:
What I see as more likely is the town excluding all tables or displays of any type rather than allowing the atheists to have one as well.


Yeah, that will certainly be the end game, which I believe is what most atheists really want. I think most don't want equal time so much as they want the removal of religion from any public forum, and they've learned that requesting equal time is the best way to make that happen.


You guys have it wrong, I think...

Before his death, Thomas Jefferson left explicit instructions regarding the monument to be erected over his grave:

"...on the faces of the Obelisk the following inscription, & not a word more:

Here was buried
Thomas Jefferson
Author of the Declaration of American Independence
of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
& Father of the University of Virginia


"because by these," he explained, "as testimonials that I have lived, I wish most to be remembered."


He only wanted those 3 accomplishments to be listed despite his incredible life. Wow.

So what's in the Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom anyway?

Well, Jefferson wrote it and it says in part: "Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness." And: "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical."

The statute served as an important precedent for the 1st Amendment.

Jefferson's line of argument is that entanglement between church and state only creates hypocrisy by rewarding or compelling nonbelievers to make false professions of faith.

The mayor, and GameCrossing in his above post, just don't see why a harmless nativity creche (or similar public displays) can possibly violate the first amendment rights of unreligious people.

After all, is a nativity creche really creating hypocrisy?

Well, Jefferson wrote in a letter:

Quote:
"It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own. It behooves him, too, in his own case, to give no example of concession, betraying the common right of independent opinion, by answering questions of faith, which the laws have left between God and himself."


In other words Jefferson correctly recognized that even "harmless" public religious observances or statements of faith that were uncontroversial in the 90%+ Protestant colonies, could still alienate Catholics, Jews and other minorities by denying them a sense of civic belonging.

The mayor's reaction letter to the atheist organization, which basically translates to "Screw you atheist party-poopers" demonstrates this attitude succinctly.

Jefferson treasured freedom of private conscience because his own religious views were intensely unorthodox. Jefferson cut up his personal version of the Bible to eliminate Jesus' miracles. He wrote in the same letter already quoted that his friend should make sure not to publicize his religious beliefs because it would "seduce public opinion to erect itself into that inquisition over the rights of conscience which the laws have so justly proscribed."

Jefferson also owned a Koran and spoke French. So he was kind of the John Kerry of the 1790s.
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galad2003 wrote:
Atheism is not a religion so therefore does not get the same protections as religion does in the Constitution. Sorry too bad.


Who gets to decide?
 
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galad2003 wrote:
Atheism is not a religion so therefore does not get the same protections as religion does in the Constitution. Sorry too bad.


spoken like a true Iranian
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galad2003 wrote:
Atheism is not a religion so therefore does not get the same protections as religion does in the Constitution. Sorry too bad.


I'm not sure it really matters in the context of the OP as there would presumably be free speech issues at play.
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galad2003 wrote:
Atheism is not a religion so therefore does not get the same protections as religion does in the Constitution. Sorry too bad.


Atheism is not a religion, but it is very often a component of a person's religious beliefs- including those of many Buddhists, by the way. Most American atheists have developed their personal religious beliefs of which atheism is a component.

Being religious and following a religion are not the same thing. Everyone is religious. Not everyone follows a religion. Freedom of religion protects the latter as well as the former.
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Shushnik wrote:
Are you aware that Toronto is not part of America?


Are you aware that Toronto IS part of America?

Oh, you meant to say the United States...
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GameCrossing wrote:
jonb wrote:
What I see as more likely is the town excluding all tables or displays of any type rather than allowing the atheists to have one as well.


Yeah, that will certainly be the end game, which I believe is what most atheists really want. I think most don't want equal time so much as they want the removal of religion from any public forum, and they've learned that requesting equal time is the best way to make that happen.
That is still equal time.
 
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twomillionbucks wrote:
It's funny to me that atheists simultaneously insist that they aren't religious and demand the legal protections associated with religion.

Atheists are religious, of course, which is why they're entitled to the legal protections thereof. But it's still a little humorous to me.
I do not think they are asking for religious rights, they are saying religion should not be established. The 1st does not only guarantee freedom of religion, but freedom from it.
 
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galad2003 wrote:
Atheism is not a religion so therefore does not get the same protections as religion does in the Constitution. Sorry too bad.


Does Freedom Of Religion NOT cover Freedom FROM Religion?

Does Freedom Of Religion INSIST you have a Religion?
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