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?
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!