So I have a serious question, and I hope I can get a decent amount of peoples' replies on this.
The town I currently live in is extremely religious in its' culture and people.
You'll see religious bumper stickers on almost every car and almost everyone here goes to church on Sundays.
There's more churches than there are grocery stores.

AND there's a nativity scene made out of metal and stone sitting in the middle of the town square. It's a permanent decoration that stays up all year round. Now I don't know if it's public property/government owned, since there's a nativity related scene on the opposite side of it, that I believe to be church property....but it looks like government property, since it's literally on the same plot of land as the City Hall is.

Now here's my question: should I demand they take it down if it is indeed on public property?
Should I try and take legal steps, since religious icons on public property ARE a violation of our first amendment?
It's not something that can be just carried away; the whole square will have to be dug up.
It looks like it's been there a long time.

Let's not forget that my town is full of extremely religious people, and I don't know how far they would take it if this turns into a big fight.
I don't want my family to be hurt or my house to be vandalized.

I'd feel like a coward if I hide and do nothing just because I'm the minority here, but their nativity scene on public property is an attack on my beliefs and an attack on our constitutional law.

Tags: amendment, atheism, first, of, violation

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Presepi or the xmas decorations for the city square are usually present just a few weeks (apologies for jumping to an old thread, by the way.).

 

But the god stuff is always present for instance on money. I would way rather see the religious affiliations (and the secret society symbols too) be gone from the paper money. No, I don't trust in no gods, and no pluribii for me either thanks.

I second the suggestion to contact the FFRF. Send them some pictures, fill them in on the details and let them know that you wish to remain anonymous if you fear retaliation.

Okay, I am not an American, so my views on this count so much in this matter.

 

Why not allow them their fantasy displays, openly and freely and vigorously counter the actual changes in public policy they would bring about. If they want to bring prayer in schools, let them but force them to bring all forms of prayer, Hindu, various shamanistic prayers, Satanic chants, wiccans, etc.  Actively search out new religions and show these religions the same favour as the Christian ones, and keep these beliefs in the public eye. Soon I think you will find that they will decide that all religions should stop and be kept at home, where they should be.

 

Because you would then still be excluding Taoists, Atheists, etc. who wouldn't have a prayer to say.

There is another concrete problem.  The U.S. Bill of rights says that congress 'shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or preventing the free exercise thereof".  By doing things like granting prayer for specific religions, no matter now many of those specific religions, they are respecting an establishment of religion. They are putting themselves in the position of saying what is a valid religion and what is not.  To enforce such an inclusive prayer policy as you suggest, (not to mention that this still excludes atheists, Taoists etc.) there would have to be some kind of minimum list that had to be included.  By doing that, someone will inevitably be left out, therefor putting a government entity such as the school in the position of showing favor to some religion or religions over others. (Once again violating the establishment clause.)

The only way to comply is for all public entities and funding to remain entirely non-religious.  On the same note, that public funding or entity may also not be used to place a large banner or monument that explicitly says there is no god.  That too would violate the establishment clause.  Government must remain neutral.

Let me ask you this? What is it that you are wishing to accomplish through doing this?

 

If you wish to make a stand on a legal and social issue and do not fear reprisal and being ostracized then by all means, go for it. But if you are doing it solely to have a cause to fight for in the name of religious freedom, all the while being aware of the lack of support that you will have in your community, as well as the potentially adverse to dangerous reactions toward family members and yourself that this could provoke, you need to decide if the reward is worth the risk?

In the best case scenario, lets speculate and say that you discover it to be public property. You initiate a suit or a campaign to have the scene removed, you battle the forces that be, whether it is Churches, or City Hall, or both, and you win your fight. The Nativity scene is removed. What will the social, financial, and physical costs be to you, not only in the short term, but in the long term? How will the community see and treat with you? Will you have reduced your quality of life for the sake of pressing forward a freedom?

 

No one likes seeing that sort of garbage around on one's street, evoking greater reinforcement of superstition. But in the grand scheme of things, one must also look at the over all situation. I would not like to stand in the middle of an enemy landscape and proudly announce, "Yeah I got your precious Religious crap removed permanently! What of it?" As the forces of evil surround me on all sides, and in affect ( even though that descriptive sounds a bit melodramatic ) that is exactly what you would be doing if the heavy religious presence is that great!

Ultimately you and your family must live there. What sort of lifestyle will you lead if you enage in this battle. And worst case scenario, suppose that you loose the battle. By and for whatever means. Then what? Nothing will have changed AND you will have the wrath of the religious heavy majority breathing down your neck.

 

I would advise that you weigh it out, consider your family and friends and children, and pick your battles wisely. Sometimes silent concession is better than vocal success. If you do go for it, make sure that you have as much media and Atheist support as you can get, because, win, loose, or draw, things will get ugly! Best of luck to you and yours!

 

Oh and just a little footnote about all of this advice pro and con,... NONE of us have to live with the consequences of the advice that we give you. It is easy for us to say, "Hey man!, don't do it!", or "Screw those Religious folks! Go for it!"

 

In the end, you will have to deal with the punishment and rewards of whatever path you choose to take. Remember to keep that in mind as you read all of the opinions shared with you! Cheers mate!

 

It's not hurting anyone, just leave it.
Mak Kurtis-

It's violating our separation of church and state clause.
That's hurting someone.
Unless you think that separate but equal water fountains harm no one.
It's not restricting someone's rights though - a separate but equal water fountain deprives someone of their right to use that fountain. It doesn't restrict what someone can and can not do.

It violates the constitution though.  Generally, the public offices that put up those displays also would reject other non-Christian displays. (With the occasional exception of  Hanukkah displays)

It also does harm.  How many theists have we argued with individually and collectively who have used the argument "It says 'In God We Trust' right on our money!" or "The Pledge says 'Under God'!", as if those things weren't fairly recent developments.  As if they were there from the beginning.  That argument is then used to justify religious reasons for social policies. (Such as banning gays from the military, or marriage inequality, or banning atheists from public office.)

Unless you think that separate but equal water fountains harm no one.

 

How is a religious statue on public property similar to segregated facilities?  I don't see the parallel.

Because the government is promoting one religion over another; or in this case, promoting religion over non-religion...something that is specifically noted as an evil against the first amendment.

We ARE being segregated when THEY are allowed to put up religious icons on government property.
The government is saying" we recognize Christianity."

From the Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute:
"The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the establishment of a national religion by the Congress or the preference of one religion over another, non-religion over religion, or religion over non-religion."

Everson v Board (1947):
The 'establishment of religion' clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. [ … ] Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between Church and State.'

Because the government is promoting one religion over another; or in this case, promoting religion over non-religion...something that is specifically noted as an evil against the first amendment.

We ARE being segregated when THEY are allowed to put up religious icons on government property.
The government is saying" we recognize Christianity."

 

I see your point and I agree with you insofar as the federal promotion of Christianity does separate and exclude nonbelievers.  However, I just don't think that it can rightfully be compared to the racial segregation imposed by Jim Crow laws, if I am understanding your water fountain reference correctly.  Institutionalized racial segregation was based entirely upon a person's physiological characteristics and/or ancestry, whereas ideological discrimination is purely an abstract phenomena.

 

I agree that the government promoting one faith over another is clearly ideological discrimination.  However, I do not think that it is appropriate to compare it to the legalized racial discrimination of the Jim Crow south.

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