The Freedom From Religion Foundation is back at, this time they’re suing Jim Fouts, the mayor of Warren, MI, for allowing Christian groups to dispense literature in the City Hall building, but denying atheists who wish to do the same:
The American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan and two secular groups are suing the city of Warren and its mayor, Jim Fouts, on behalf of an atheist resident who was forbidden from setting up a “reason station” alongside a long-standing “prayer station” in the City Hall atrium.
When asked for his side of the story, Fouts not only confirmed the reports of discrimination but compared atheists to the KKK and Nazis:
In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Fouts defended the city’s authorization of a “prayer station” as a source of guidance.
“They are just there if someone wishes to seek solace or guidance from them,” Fouts told the AP on Wednesday. “The atheist station does not serve that purpose. It will not contribute to community values or helping an individual out.”
Comparing atheists to Nazis and white supremacists, Fouts argued that Marshall’s “reason station” would be fundamentally antagonistic to prayer.
“The city has certain values that I don’t believe are in general agreement with having an atheist station, nor in general agreement with having a Nazi station or Ku Klux Klan station,” Fouts added. “I cannot accept or will not allow a group that is disparaging of another group to have a station here.”
Even if I were to concede that the prayer stations helped individuals out and the atheists didn’t provide guidance (which is absurd), can religious people not offer guidance somewhere other than City Hall, where all citizens are equal and the separation of church and state must be maintained? What’s more, I suspect “offering guidance” here is a euphemism for “proselytizing their religion.” It’s just that “offering guidance” sounds better in court (to anybody incapable of seeing through shallow misdirection).
As for comparing atheists to Nazis or the KKK, I don’t think that’s particularly fair. In fact, you might find that both the Nazi party (the oath of SS soldiers included affirming god and disparaging atheists) and the KKK have more in common with the prayer stations than with the atheists. See if you can figure out what it is:
Of course, this is all irrelevant. Even if the Nazis were the product of reason run amok (they weren’t) or if racism and other discrimination didn’t have a history of emanating directly from the pulpit (what’s going on with LGBT people right now, that’s how it was with women and racial minorities) or if the KKK weren’t a Christian organization, letting the Christians use government property to proselytize but denying other people is not helping anybody but the Christians’ particular church. It’s illegal and should be stopped without a lawsuit. If mayor Fouts had a shred of integrity he’d stop it without pissing away the city’s money to be forced to stop it in a foredoomed lawsuit. But he doesn’t, and so the FFRF are going to make him.
Fouts has since disputed that he said this, claiming it was taken out of context:
Fouts told TPM on Friday that the AP quote was taken out of context. He said he was making his point by explaining that during the city’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, he would never allow members of the KKK to set up at the event.
“I don’t think atheists are Nazis,” he said, adding that he would never compare atheists to Nazis or members of the Klan.
Except letting proselytizers into the City Hall isn’t a celebration of any sort, it’s a constant presence on government property dispensing religious materials that explicitly claim that atheists are going to burn forever. Saying they’re wrong is not suddenly crossing the line, it’s a million miles short of the line that’s already been established.
What’s more, the law says nothing about the government giving racists equal time with non-racists. It does say, very plainly, that if you let religious people have access to government facilities, you must give all faiths (or non-faiths) equal access. Fouts is still violating the law which, I imagine, is why he’s getting sued.