Sorry Mr. Mayor, But Atheists Have Rights, Too

They say you can't fight city hall, but sometimes there's no other choice.

The residents of Warren, Michigan, visit their city hall on a regular basis to pay taxes, to vote, and to visit the library branch and the farmers market that are located there. Since 2009, they have also been able to visit a "Prayer Station" in the building's large atrium.

Set up by a local church under a city policy that lets civic organizations and residents reserve space, the table is staffed by volunteers, who pass out religious literature and invite passersby to pray with them or come to their church.

Douglas Marshall, an atheist, often passed the Prayer Station and decided to set up a similar "Reason Station" to offer information on atheism and free thought. But when he submitted an application, the mayor refused to accept it. He told Marshall that he would allow any religious group to use the atrium, but not Marshall, who he claimed was "anti-religion" and trying "to deprive all organized religions of their constitutional freedoms."

But when a city opens up its facilities to the community, it can't pick and choose who gets to use them, and it certainly can't favor religious groups over nonreligious ones. That's why the ACLU and the ACLU of Michigan – along with Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Freedom From Religion Foundation – filed a lawsuit today on behalf of Marshall.

Let's be clear: No one's trying to get rid of the Prayer Station. But if the city gives a forum to one speaker, it can't silence another speaker just because it dislikes the message.

So to recap…

When Douglas Marshall walked into city hall and saw there was a Prayer Station there, he was like

Cat jumping around lizards

But when he asked the mayor if he could set up a Reason Station, the mayor was like

Donald Glover screaming 'No'

So now the ACLU is like

Nathan Fillion shaking his head

But to be clear, our lawsuit aims to protect the First Amendment rights of all Warren residents, regardless of their religious or philosophical beliefs or non-beliefs.

Pretty sure there's room for both a prayer station and a reason station, guys.

'Girl with Feelings' from 'Mean Girls'

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Anonymous

This comment will not be posted because the Aclu is afraid of dissent but here goes.

For decades the Aclu has fought Christianity to eliminate it. Oh they lie about that fact giving us a pack of lies about seperation of church and state when those words dont even appear in the Constitution.

But they will defend atheist, muslims and every other false religion while at the same time tearing down Jesus. Thats because they hate me. Read the book of John and Jesus talks about the world hating him. Why? Because they are controlled by Satan.

Thank you very much.

Lila M

FYI - for an article this short, a recap is not necessary - and certainly not a recap that includes goofy video clips that bog down the wifi.

Anonymous

Has the ACLU always used gifs like this?
I most definitely support their mission, but this isn't buzzfeed.

Anonymous

its crazy how people want religious freedoms but want to limit other people's freedom because of their religion.

Anonymous

Well the piece was well written but the use of video this way is disconcerting; appears to dumb down the story. If you are looking for hits I guess, this may do it. Is this the future of all analysis: Jon Stewart or Colbert or video? Good thing I'm on the back end.

Anonymous

Pretty good report until you introduced those ridiculous memes at the end, it kind of took the seriousness out of the message in an embarrassing sort of way.

Anonymous

MAN , WHAT DO PEOPLE NOT GET ABOUT SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE ? Our Forefathers had the foresight to know that this would be trouble ,the same kind of trouble that Arab countries have when Islamic fanatics run things !

Anonymous

Interesting article but lose the animated gifs. They slow things down, especially on mobile, and make your site appear unprofessional.

Mike Schwab

Did any Pastafarians apply?

Anonymous

This is why we need the ACLU. Thanks for being there to at least attempt to keep government fair for all citizens.

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