Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Parking for prayer

So much controversy going on in the small town of Falmouth, MA which lies on the southwestern tip of Cape Cod:

First, a former town employee accused the town manager of sexual harassment. Then the local constable accused town officials of illegally disseminating sealed records containing his criminal history.

Now we learn that the selectmen recently voted 4-0 to allow four local churches to set up “a prayer station” in the public parking lot at Old Silver Beach in North Falmouth.

The “prayer station” occupies a parking spot and is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day. Volunteers from Heritage Christian Church in East Falmouth, First Baptist Church of Pocasset, Falmouth Church of the Nazarene and Bay Community Alliance Church in Buzzards Bay staff the station. No preaching or solicitation is allowed. The volunteers can only talk to those who approach them.

Is the board’s decision unconstitutional? Does it violate the separation of church and state?

Legally, no.

But what the selectmen have unwittingly done is create a public forum in a parking lot.

“The issue is whether or not the town has created a public forum,” said Joe Conn, director of communications for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State in Washington, D.C. “If you let this group use this space, you have to let all groups — religious or nonreligious — use this space. It could come back to bite them if they are turning a public parking lot into a free-speech zone.”

Gasp! What where they thinking? They might have to allow evil atheists and other godless groups to use the space!


Uruk said...

When I was a former Christian, I pushed for a Bible study at my high school. The Principal told me that she would allow it, but I had to keep in mind that other groups like satanists or atheists would be allowed to meet, too.

Our group met and nothing came of it.

Looking back, I've learned to better appreciate the separation of Church and State. But I fear that Christianity will always be well received over open atheism. That's something that needs to change.

tina FCD said...

I wish some people would think beyond the box (their own religion) before asking for privileges. It usually does back fire. Like the manger scenes and FSM trees at the Capitol Building.

Stardust said...

Uruk, it is my prediction (too bad I won't be around to witness it) that Christianity will "evolve" into just another world Mythology and something else will probably take its place like always happens with religion/mythology. I would hope, though, that atheism will not be viewed in the way it is today by most people. It's nothing sinister or evil, it is just a lack of belief in anything supernatural.

Tina, the god botherers completely missed the point of the FSM and the Festivus displays at the Capitol buildings. Non-believers were trying to illustrate the nature of Separation of Church and State and freedom of speech and expression and when the religious want to use the public and government domains for their religious propaganda and displays, then it is inviting all other groups to demand their displays be on exhibit also. It can get so out of control it would be ridiculous. That is just one of the many reasons church and state should be separate.

Stardust said...

Fundie Christians mainly do these things to reinforce their faith, to try to keep themselves brainwashed. And in the process they are obnoxious to the rest of us.

Uruk said...

I really do wish I could see what would happen to Christianity 2000 years from now. I wonder what events would have to transpire before it was commonly accepted as a myth.

Fundamentalist tend to believe the United States is a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. To deny them the ability to blend religion and government gets their collective goat.

But if fundamentalists would learn a little history, they would realize the beauty of keeping church and state separate.

Can fundamentalists say the phrase "witch hunt"?

C Woods said...

You've got to run down there and set up an atheist booth, van, something. That will put a stop to it. In my school district when the Gideons were permitted to hand out Bibles, the local atheists demanded they be allowed to hand out atheist literature. It took a nano second for the school board to reverse its decision on the Gideons. The atheists didn't really want to hand out literature, they just wanted the school board to see the error of its ways. There's a good reason why Mark Twain said: “In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.” (Pudd'nhead Wilson, 1894)

I was reading your profile. If my husband and I were combined into one person, we would be you. We both like to write and read. I paint, draw , take photos, and do graphic art. He listens to music and is interested in astromony. We both like to travel. We love museums and film. We’re both into computers. I’m into blogging. We are both nonbelievers. I noticed "Letters From the Earth" as one of your favorite books. It has been one of mine since college. I just attended a Mark Twain conference in Elmira NY ---fabulous.

Cick on my name to visit my freethought blog.

Stardust said...

CWoods, thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I checked out your blog and left a message.
We have so many of the same interests!I'm going to add you to my favorite link list, if that's okay!