CultureMar 01, 2018 by Alyssa Duvall
The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist activist group whose mission is to "promote nontheism and defend the constitutional separation between religion and government", is continuing its crusade to cleanse all public life from religious influence with its "search and destroy" tactics and threats of legal action.
The latest target of the FFRF is Coronado, a resort town in California that is removing a city-owned church directory sign after receiving a letter from the organization.
According to the letter, the directory sign "raises serious constitutional concerns under the establishment clause of the First Amendment" which prohibits the government from establishing a religion.
The FFRF was especially concerned that the sign only lists local Christian churches and doesn't include any other religious or philanthropic organizations.
To avoid a lawsuit, Mayor Richard Bailey announced the city's decision to replace the sign with one that will include other organizations.
"The City will remove the sign at Sixth and Orange Avenue in Spreckels Park as a part of the project. The Coronado Council of Churches is aware this is occurring, and they support the City's efforts. This redesign will ensure our signage is informative and representative by incorporating our community's civic, social, faith-based and philanthropic organizations. I understand this is a sensitive topic, however, a new directory/signage will be reinstalled after this project is complete and it will be inclusive of all organizations, including our faith-based ones," Bailey wrote.
"We appreciate that the city's decision shows respect for all of its citizens — religious and nonreligious — by remaining neutral towards religion," Liz Cavell, an FFRF lawyer said, applauding the decision in a statement.
Findlay, Ohio, another city targeted by the FFRF, has a biblically-themed mural on a municipal building featuring a picture of an eagle with the words "Under His Wings Shall You Find Refuge Psalms 91."
Although the FFRF sent a cease and desist letter to the city, threatening to sue for the "unconstitutional" wall art which "conveys government support for religion," the Findlay government is fighting back and refusing to remove the mural.
"Maybe the Atheist Club in Madison, Wisconsin, has nothing better to worry about but our mural in Findlay. But our community is strong because we have belief," Findlay Mayor Lydia Mahalik said in a statement responding to the letter. "We believe in a power greater than ourselves that promises a brighter day is ahead despite our individual struggles."
"In our community we have many people who practice many faiths and believe many things. I celebrate those elements of my community and refuse to apologize for it," the statement continued.
Just a month ago, the FFRF also targeted an Indiana school district for allowing pastors to hold a leadership program on campus during lunch.
First Liberty Institute, a legal organization that protects religious freedom, criticized the FFRF's attacks on any hint of religion in the public:
"For decades now, FFRF and others have been on a search and destroy mission to eradicate even the most modest references to generic sayings from the Bible," Hiram Sasser, General Counsel to First Liberty, told Fox News. "As the Supreme Court said in 1867, 'The Constitution deals with substance, not shadows.'"
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