From the Raw Story (where there’s a video I can’t embed), we find another example of an ignorant politician—the mayor of Warren, Michigan—who doesn’t understand that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (the one that guarantees freedom of religion) also guarantees freedom from religion. You can’t promote religious belief and at the same time ban unbelief. Sadly, that hasn’t penetrated the skull of Warren’s mayor:
A Michigan mayor who says that he believes in freedom of religion has refused to allow atheists to set up a so-called “Reason Station” inside City Hall, saying it could upset Christians visiting the nearby “Prayer Station.”
According to the Detroit Free Press, Warren resident Douglas Marshall proposed the “Reason Station” to promote separation of church and state, and to tell people about using free thought, reason and logic.
But Warren Mayor Jim Fouts rejected the display for a period of one year because of Marshall’s affiliation with a group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation. In a letter to Marshall, Fouts explained that the Freedom From Religion Foundation was not protected under the First Amendment’s Establishment clause because atheism was not a religion.
That’s totally bogus; it’s irrelevant with whom Marshall is affiliated. If they can put up pro-religious stuff, they’re obligated to put up nonreligious or antireligious stuff.
“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,” Fouts wrote. “The City of Warren cannot allow this.”
“Also, I believe it is group’s intention to disrupt those who participate in the Prayer Station which would also be a violation of the freedom of religion amendment,” he added. “For these reasons, I cannot approve of your request.”
Curiously, Fouts also rejected the FFRF’s request for an atheist display last year, and that rejection was upheld by the courts. I’m baffled, for that rejection was clearly unconstitutional.
Fout is a deeply ignorant man, as evinced in the story’s last two paragraphs:
WJBK reported that the city of Warren has approved the “Prayer Station,” a Ramadan Display, a Nativity scene and a Day of Prayer — but nothing for atheists.
“I will continue to support all groups regardless of race or religion, but I will not support a group that denigrates those groups,” Fouts told the station.
I emphasize one thing,” he added. “The government cannot restrict an individual’s freedom of speech, but an individual cannot restrict the government’s freedom of speech.”
What does that last paragraph even mean?
This fight never ends, does it? Are these people truly ignorant of the Constitution, or willfully ignorant?