Religion

U.S. District Court: Atheist 'Reason Station' Allowed Along With 'Prayer Station' In Michigan City Hall

| by Tony Tran
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One Michigan city might be seeing a big change in its city hall.

A recent federal court settlement adjourned on Feb. 23 will now allow Warren, Michigan citizens to host a "reason station" in the City Hall. The stations would go along with the "prayer stations" which the city has allowed to exist for years now, according to local paper the C&G News.

Last year, Warren's Mayor Jim Fouts refused to let resident Douglas Marshall provide "literature about free thought, reason and the separation of church and state" at a table.

Marshall challenged the denial by filing a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court. He alleged that it violated his right to free speech.

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Since 2009, prayer stations have been operating in the atrium of the City Hall. Staffed by volunteers from the local religious community, the stations offer citizens a chance to pray and reflect on faith.

The American's for Civil Liberties Union has hailed the settlement as a "victory for religious freedom," saying that Marshall should be "lauded for resisting the mayor's attempts to silence him by favoring religious groups over non-religious groups."

"This settlement serves as a reminder that government officials have no business deciding which religious messages can and cannot be allowed into our public spaces," a spokesman for the organization said. "The First Amendment guarantees us all the right to speak freely about our beliefs -- or lack thereof."

Mayor Fouts was not deterred. He felt that the settlement was a victory for him and the religious community at large.

"Number one, we now have the permanency of the Nativity scene. That can never be challenged," he told reporters. "Number two, we have the permanency of the prayer station."

He went on to explain the reason for denying Marshall's request, saying that it would create a "contentious atmosphere."

"[Marshall] cannot be disruptive. He cannot be aggressive. He will just sit there and wait," the Mayor said. "[The prayer station] is passive. It's non-denominational. That's what it will continue to be. He'll be expected to operate by the same rules."

Source: C&G News

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, slumgoddess.blogspot.com