An organization that advocates for the separation of church and state is suing a Connecticut city for alleged censorship. The lawsuit comes after the city of Shelton denied the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s request to put up a display in a city park.
The FFRF made the request to place a sign stating “there are no angels” next to a display of angels put up annually by veterans group The American Legion, reports FFRF. FFRF complains the religious display should not be endorsed by the town.
“The angel display in the park constitutes not only a religious display, but one with a sectarian message, since the display is put up every December to coincide with the traditional celebration of the birth of Jesus, as heralded by angels,” said FFRF in a statement.
The town of Shelton denied FFRF’s request to erect the sign, calling it offensive.
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FFRF says the town is engaging in “impermissible viewpoint-based discrimination,” and is targeting the man who filed the suit with FFRF for his atheist beliefs.
This is not the first time the FFRF has protested against religious speech on government-owned property.
On Feb. 15, FFRF protested Greene County, Tennessee’s beginning legislative meetings with a prayer, reports The Greeneville Sun. Greene County Mayor David Crum reportedly began inviting religious leaders to lead prayers when he took office in 2014.
FFRF says the prayers are unconstitutional, and called for them to be stopped entirely.
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“We wrote a letter asking them to reconsider that because it shows a clear preference for religion over non-religion in the county’s invocation policy and that violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” said Ryan Jayne, a legal representative of FFRF.
FFRF noted that it would support the prayers if Greene County had secular prayers in its meetings as well.
“Mayor Crum reportedly stated that he typically calls pastors that [he] knows to deliver the invocation, and he was not willing to allow a representative of an atheist group to give an invocation,” said Jayne.