Skip to comments.Texas City Stands up to Atheists
Posted on 07/30/2013 4:03:03 PM PDT by robowombat
Tuesday, 30 July 2013 14:32 Texas City Stands up to Atheists Over Prayers at Government Meetings Written by Dave Bohon
Texas City Stands up to Atheists Over Prayers at Government Meetings The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) appears to be losing its intimidating touch as it goes about its business of trying to stop people from praying and expressing their faith in public. The atheist group's latest attack has come against the city council of League City, Texas, which has included prayer by local clergy in its regular government meetings since the early 1960s.
In a July 15 letter to Mayor Tim Paulissen and the League City Council, the FFRF went through its customary paces in attempting to browbeat the city fathers into submission. Appealing to the First Amendment's supposed separation of state and church, the godless group's staff attorney, Elizabeth Cavell, called the city's tradition of allowing both local residents and government officials to open the meetings in prayer of dubious legality, insisting that such prayers are unnecessary, inappropriate, and divisive.
Cavell advised that while government officials are free to pray privately or to worship on their own time in their own way, they do not need to worship on taxpayers' time. Cavell complained that inviting council members and locals to offer invocations at the government meetings is coercive and beyond the authority of any government.
While citing a selection of court cases to buttress the FFRF's case against public prayer, Cavell conceded that there is no clear precedent for her group to demand that the city end its tradition, since courts have issued conflicting opinions that make the legal landscape on the issue unstable. The only warning she could muster was that prayer at government meetings continues to be litigated, divisive, and problematic for local governments across the nation precisely because of this instability.
She dubiously suggested that the best course for the city would be to halt the prayers. If you wish to pray prior to the meeting, do so on your own time in your own way do not make it part of the secular business of your local government.
As it happened, Mayor Paulissen and the city council appeared to be disinclined to follow the FFRF's self-serving advice. Paulissen told the Houston Chronicle that he and the other city fathers had no plans to drop the 52-year tradition of opening council meetings with an invocation.
The city has been doing this since 1962, and nobody has ever complained, to my knowledge, Paulissen said. He added that it's not just my stance. I have the full support of those on the city council, too.
The Chronicle noted that the city council has a rotating list of pastors and laymen that pray each meeting. Paulissen doesn't see this as a waste of taxpayers' money, as the FFRF alleges. Said Paulissen: It's not a waste of taxpayers' money. Everybody supports the prayer. It's non-denominational in content. He added that this is what our forefathers did, too, recalling that the first Continental Congress prayed before it began its historically important business.
Those who have followed the FFRF's ongoing attacks against communities and school districts might remember its unfruitful assault in 2012 on a group of high school cheerleaders in Kountze, Texas, who displayed inspirational Bible verses on huge banners during high-school football games. While the atheist group had intimidated the Kountze school district's superintendent, Kevin Weldon, into prohibiting the cheerleaders from displaying the banners, the students got some legal help of their own from the Dallas-based Liberty Institute, which secured an injunction allowing the cheerleaders to continue displaying the Bible verses while an FFRF-inspired lawsuit against them moved forward.
However, a month before the scheduled June 2013 trial for the lawsuit, a Texas judge ruled that the students were well within their constitutionally guaranteed rights to continue to make and display the Christian banners. In his written opinion, District Judge Steve Thomas found that no state or federal law prohibits cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events.
Among those who cheered on the cheerleaders was Texas Governor Rick Perry, who said that he was proud of the cheerleaders at Kountze ISD for standing firm in the knowledge of these endowed rights and their willingness to be an example in defending those rights, which a secular group has needlessly tried to take away.
God Bless Texas.
I saw this story on tv and I have to say I think the atheist should be allowed to put up their diplay on public property. The government has no business discriminating on the basis of religion. I don’t agree with atheists suing to stop religious displays either. I don’t think a minority should be able to force the majority to stop these displays when they harm no one. But by what right do these government officials say that they can not put theirs up when the Christians can put up theirs? That is discrimination in favor of one religion.
I wonder whether these pests would understand my very secular, non-Christian response to their intrusions?
The US Congress still opens with a prayer AND has a Congressional Chaplain that is PAID to do so.
Are you saying that atheism is a religion?
Isn’t that an oxymoron?
I am surprised that they bothered anyone in Texas with this claptrap. They should know better......
Atheism IS a religion! Its followers are just as fanatical & determined to impose their will as are the muzzies, who lately seem to be their unlikely allies against the majority Christian view.
Never could understand atheists’ white hot hatred of a Deity Who according to them doesn’t even exist!
Replies welcome from the followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster aka “skydaddy”.
No I am not. I’m saying that the government in this case is discriminating on the basis of religion in that they are seeking to protect a certain religion from criticism. I can see where you might have thought I was saying that. This is a first amendment issue. However I don’t think that people putting up nativity scenes is a violation of the first amendment unless tax payer money is being used for he display and then personally it would not bother me if it was. Even though I am an atheist I don’t mind and am not offended by nativity scenes. I do think the government is wrong in this case though.
The Girl Scouts should be able to put one up also. AND the FFA (Future Farmers of America). And the Chamber of Commerce. And Planned Parenthood. And Mother Against Drunk Driving. And Texas Right to Life.
Just saw your post 11. Stike FFA, MADD, and TRL. All the others criticize the Christian religion and should be allowed.
Yes and the Klu Klux Klan and the Black Panthers. Either we have a firs amendment right or we don’t. I think these atheists are being jerks to do this at Christmas but whether or not I agree with them is not relevant. That is kind of the whole point of the first amendment. If Christians have a right to be protected from a sight that would offend them on public property then so do the atheists.
Personally I think this is one of he problems with public property. If this were a private space there would be no problem but as soon as it is public then the government has no right discriminating in favor of a religion.
Well if they atheists want to pray to nothingness, they should win a seat on city council. However since these losers travel around the country to get offended, that’s not possible. They simply want to destroy freedom of religion.
I wanted an answer from the atheist...if atheism is NOT a religion as he has claimed...then when the govt has no duty to permit the free exercise thereof.
Allowing the atheists to put up a monument is no different than letting Pepsi put one up on the court house grounds.
You know what, I should have read the post. I saw the headline and confused it with a news story I just saw about an atheist group from Wisconsin, which had a member that lived in a town in Texas, who wanted to put up a display that said “There is no God, no Heaven, no Angels and no Devil” or something to that effect, at a park along side a nativity scene. So I apologize. I agree with you that these groups go around looking to be offended. I think it is ridiculous to try and stop praying at city council meetings. Who is it hurting. There are so many real injustices in the world to fight that this issue should not even be on the radar.
That’s my problem. 1) They have misinterpreted the First Amendment. Congress/state legislatures shall not establish an official religion. That doesn’t mean that cheerleaders can’t display prayers on their banners, or a football team can’t pray. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
If Freepers were 4Chan-ers, we’d have the names, numbers, an addresses of all these idiots posted, so we could annoy them just a little bit, to make up for all the problems they cause all of the country
I get sincerely pissed when the Muslims demand that we give them facilities to wash their feet and a place to pray. They refuse to allow our culture but insist upon theirs taking precedence.
Yes I agree with you. I think that they do misinterpret the 1st amendment. I don’t have a problem with prayers at school, especially if the vast majority at the school are religious. I think their efforts to get any mention of god removed from the public square are ridiculous. At my kid’s school, in many ways, it’s like going back in time 50 years. They sing religious songs at Christmas and put up posters saying “Jesus is the reason for the season” and I have no problem with it. This is a public school by the way. I would never try to force the school to stop. I don’t agree with religion but I don’t get offended when I see those who do practicing it in the public square.