What’s the deal with places called Chino Valley? The FFRF is in an ongoing lawsuit against the Chino Valley, CA school system since late 2014 over school board meetings opening with bible readings and more (and the FFRF will probably win considering the system already has one instance of failure to appear).
Now it appears that lawmakers in Chino Valley, AZ are inviting the same fate:
Chino Valley Mayor Chris Marley said he’s drawing a line in the sand and the Town Council backed him up, saying they have no intention to change their invocation, which ends by praying in the name of Jesus.
That is flat out illegal under Greece v. Galloway, do not pass go, give the FFRF your money.
And something tells me that the Freedom From Religion Foundation won’t have trouble finding a plaintiff. A local Rabbi has protested the sectarian prayer at government meetings:
Rabbi Adele Plotkin of Chino Valley’s Beit Torah congregation attended the Tuesday, Feb. 9 council meeting and protested when Marley, also a minister, began reading a disclaimer that he intended to do an invocation, and then protested again when Marley ended his prayer by saying “I pray all these things in the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Marley then ordered the master at arms, in this case two Chino Valley Police officers, to escort Plotkin out of council chambers.
Rabbi Plotkin, meet the FFRF. FFRF, Rabbi Plotkin.
Part of Rabbi Plotkin’s anger is surely due to one religion, Christianity, being propped up by a government that’s supposed to be for all people. The other is probably due to Mayor Marley lying to her about the prayer:
Marley announced before the Jan. 26 council meeting that he did not intend to perform the invocation at that meeting or the meeting on Feb. 9 until council members had a chance to discuss how they wanted to conduct future invocations after receiving recent criticism. He confirmed that intention in an interview with the media after Jan. 26 meeting.
Plotkin contacted a Chino Valley Review reporter before the Feb. 9 meeting to confirm that no invocation was planned, saying she couldn’t attend if they intended to pray to Jesus. She said she wanted to attend the meeting so that she could begin to build bridges with the council members on this issue, but would only do so if there was no invocation.
“He lied,” Plotkin said of the mayor’s reversal.
Somehow the Town Council believes (or at least asserts) that the Constitution is on the side of the people ensuring only pro-Jesus prayers are offered at Town Council meetings:
Neutrality is not a religion. Giving props to no religion (or lack of religion) is not the same as standing up there and saying, “Hey, we should govern with wisdom because there is no god” — which is a lovely sentiment, but is similarly illegal.
“Unfortunately, the content of the invocations offered here in Chino Valley has become the subject of some contention, so we – your Town Council – will deal with it,” Marley said in an opening statement. “Our Bill of Rights protects us against the establishment of religion by the state, and yet it would appear that secular humanism with its mantra of political correctness has become just that, the state established religion which the First Amendment was supposed to protect us against.
What we’re asking for is that either everybody gets a nod or nobody gets a nod to maintain equality. That’s not a religion, no matter how much the desperate try to spin it that way.
“Our oath of office requires that we defend the Constitution, and yet we are being asked to give up our right to freely worship according to the dictates of conscious.
Wrong! In your personal capacity you can worship however you please. But you start being a part of the government when you’re on the clock as mayor. People get rights. Governments do not. Now, if the FFRF was barging into your home to say “Whoa! You can’t pray to Jesus because you’re the mayor!” I’d totally sympathize and be on your side. What they’re saying is that you can’t transpose your personal religion onto the government. That’s against the law.
After discussing eight different options on how to handle the invocation at future Town Council meetings, the council voted that they would make no changes to the current tradition, which is a member of council gives the invocation without any guidance if they wish to be in the rotation to do so.
Six of the seven Chino Valley council members identified themselves as Christians and one as a non-Christian. The non-Christian member was offered a chance to join the invocation rotation, but declined. Therefore, only Christians are currently giving the invocations.
“I believe that we as a council have every right to continue to offer the invocations,” Marley said.
Yes, the losers of pretty much every lawsuit thought they were right too.
Madeline Ziegler, a legal fellow with the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation disagrees.
“The government does not have freedom of religion,” Ziegler wrote in a letter to the Town of Chino Valley after Tuesday’s meeting. “In fact, the Supreme Court has repeatedly stated, the ‘First Amendment mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion.’
“If they don’t like it, they can vote us out,” Marley said.
Or sue you, let you hand them your town’s money, and then watch you do the right thing anyway. That’s also an option.
The FFRF is already involved and I wouldn’t be surprised if an open-and-shut lawsuit is forthcoming.