Skip to comments.California Town Drops City Council Prayers to Avoid Further Legal Costs
Posted on 04/21/2014 7:08:07 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
A small, coastal town in central California has settled a lawsuit regarding prayer at City Council meetings, ultimately agreeing to no longer hold any form of prayer, whether sectarian or non-sectarian, ahead of the local government meetings. City officials say they decided to settle the lawsuit to avoid further legal costs paid by taxpayer money.
Pismo Beach city officials announced their settlement earlier this week, nearly six months after the Freedom From Religion Foundation [FFRF] and the local chapter of Atheists United San Luis Obispo filed a lawsuit against the city, arguing that it had violated the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state and the state Constitution's "No Preference" Clause by allowing predominately Christian-themed prayers before city council meetings.
The groups argued that the city had allowed its volunteer chaplain, the Rev. Paul E. Jones, to lead predominately Christian prayers ahead of city council meetings from 2008 to 2013. The lawsuit alleged that Jones often called on Pismo Beach citizens to live a "Christian lifestyle in accordance with the bible," among other sectarian statements.
As part of their settlement, city officials agreed to do away with the volunteer chaplain position, and Jones has resigned. The city has admitted no liability in the lawsuit, but said it would settle with the FFRF to avoid using taxpayer money to fund what would likely be a costly litigation process.
"[ ] in keeping with the city's goal of carefully managing taxpayer funds, the City Council determined that it would not be a prudent use of public monies to contest the suit through trial," City Attorney David Fleishman said in a statement, according to The San Luis Obispo Tribune. The city will be paying $47,500 in attorneys' fees.
David Leidner, a board member of the local Atheists United San Luis Obiso group, told the Times Press Recorder that his group is "very happy the city of Pismo Beach has decided to end this exclusionary and unconstitutional practice and make their government meetings welcoming to all citizens."
The Pismo Beach ruling comes as the Supreme Court currently weighs the case of Greece vs. Galloway, in which residents of Greece, N.Y. are contesting their city council's references to "Jesus Christ" during government meetings. A decision is expected to be reached by June.
Another battle over prayer at government meetings is currently taking place in Carroll County, Md., where one city commissioner disobeyed a judge's recent ruling to temporarily stop sectarian prayers when she referenced "Jesus Christ" and "God" in a prayer prior to a commission meeting. Carroll County Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier decided to deliver the sectarian prayer in spite of the judge's injunction because she said the ruling was an "infringement on my First Amendment rights of free speech and free religion."
U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. had temporarily banned Carroll County commissioners from saying sectarian prayers at their government meetings after the American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit against the county, arguing their prayers were a violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause.
Carroll County commissioners have since passed a resolution agreeing to comply with Quarles' injunction as the lawsuit proceeds through court. If the Carroll County lawsuit is resolved before the Supreme Court rules on Greece vs. Galloway, the ruling could become moot depending on the higher court's ruling.
The bad guys win again.
There’s that FFRF, Freedom From Religion Foundation again, they just go around picking fights like this. Travesty.
The tyranny of law-yahs.
Even if they don’t have a case they can bleed you dry and force you to capitulate.
I have fond memories of riding horses on Pismo Beach, and driving my 71 Colt on the same beach in 1972.
Gas was 29 cents/gal, so the drive up from VAFB was cheap entertainment for a broke GI.
What if the mayor opened the meeting with a public comment from the audience, and that comment sounded like a prayer.
No, they did not invite Wiccans or Muslims. They did include a Hindu and a Bah'ai prayer leader. All of these non-Christians were included because they were both part of the community and didn't have an axe to grind with the Christian majority. As I recall, they all gave very nice prayers and taught us some cultural appreciation as well.
Would you like it if somebody brought in an imman and they do some Allah Ackbars?
Perhaps Scientology get control of a town and they start doing whatever the hell the scientologist do? Maybe a nice audit before each meeting?
> Theres that FFRF, Freedom From Religion Foundation again, they just go around picking fights like this. Travesty.
When people stand against them ready to pay for legal fees en masse they fold like a cheap table and turn and run. The local governments they attack need to grow some balls and tell them to get the hell off their turf.
LOL! If I was those city politicians I’d just drop some religious phrases into my comments to each other as issues are discussed.
Like “Hey Joe, God willing, we’ll get this budget passed tonight!
No “prayers”. Just free speech.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, ...
At a minimum, Pismo should start every meeting with a minute of silence to allow everyone present to “gather their thoughts” before the activities of the meeting.
I like the way you think!
A locational really wouldn’t be a bad idea...
Yeah, we could give each other “assists” then on to traffic light not working on corner of 4th and main.
So you will give up your rights and freedom for security and out of fear.
And you think this security comes from standing with anti-Christ.
Once I sort of agreed with what you said. But it really comes down to the above
California hasn’t got a prayer.
The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing - Edmund Burke
The Supreme Court (and other judges) created this mess. It’s what happens every time they refuse to enforce the clear, constitutional standard. Seriously. What sort of religious expressions meet “constitutional” muster these days and which ones don’t? I dare anyone to clearly explain it, because the Supreme Court certainly hasn’t.
No I don’t think that at all. What I do know is that with the borders wide open, and the country flooded with opposing view points and religions you stand on dangerous ground when opening up political forums to religion. Ask Turkey about the issue. They had to drive out the Islamist with boots, guns and clubs from the government. But he still comes back.
We’ve reached this level of insanity because some people simply don’t respect the right of their fellow citizens to live their faith or lack thereof. The original constitutional standard is very simple in my opinion. There can be no religious tests for political office or government imposed religious requirements placed on anyone. Government, for example, doesn’t have a right to require anyone to pray or NOT to pray. One doesn’t give up their constitutional rights simply because one works for, receives funding from, or is somehow associated with government. If a government employee thanks Jesus during the course of work, it doesn’t create a state religion.
I think everyone knows that, although England has a tax-supported Church of England and Italy’s Roman Catholic church receives payments from the Italian government, there is no established “Church of America” or “Church of the United States” supported by funds collected from US taxpayers of every religion, including evangelical atheism.
Therefore, the so-called “separation” of “church” and “state” in America HAS ALREADY OCCURRED! There is no “established” church or religion in America!
Therefore, IMHO, all this anti-Christian litigation should fail “the laugh test”.
It i stime for religious Americans to push back against the evangelican atheists — an odd group vigorously promoting a “nothing”.
Indeed, how could folks who insist religion is “nothing” have any “standing” to sue to defend that “nothing”?
That’s just crazy....
What is “non-sectarian prayer?” The only example that comes to mind is asking the government for help or some kind of life intervention? But that sounds like liberal sectarian prayer.
The problem is it’s almost impossible to define a standard where religious speech or activities are consistently regulated. Well, actually there is an easy standard, and it involves putting no limits on religious expression. Once you move away from that, you get all sorts of ridiculous rulings from the courts. So THIS 10 Commandments is OK because it’s 50’ from a government building, has been there more than 10 years, and is displayed with a Wiccan or other religious symbols nearby, while this other 10 Commandments plaque is not constitutional...
We aren’t supposed to live in a country where people are constantly having their speech policed by government! And before anyone asks, that means I have no problem with other religions so long as I’m not impeded in my Christian walk. So if someone wants to pray to Satan, so long as they aren’t forcing me to participate, I respect their liberty. Of course, that doesn’t mean I would vote or employ somebody like that (which should also be my right), but I don’t think government should silence them.
That’s the ideal we’re supposed to be working for. The left wants tolerance? Not really, because tolerance means not using government as a weapon against the free speech and religious practices of other citizens. Government should be neutral, neither mandating a particular religion nor banning one.
I remember a time in America when, if some scumbag tried this, Allah would be dangling from his Akbars from a tall oak tree. We're all politically correct, sissy boys now.