Atheists sue Pismo Beach over city chaplain

November 5, 2013

pismoIn connection with Atheists United San Luis Obispo, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes separation of church and state, sued Pismo Beach last week over its use of a city chaplain. [Tribune]

The lawsuit, filed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court Friday, alleges that Rev. Paul E. Jones, the city’s chaplain, is illegally promoting Christianity during invocations before council meetings. The suit calls for the elimination of both the chaplain position and the practice of praying before meetings.

“What we’re looking for is a judge to tell them to knock it off,” Atheists United San Luis Obispo spokesman David Leidner told the Tribune.

In 2003, the council passed a policy prohibiting sectarian invocations. The council adopted the policy to comply with an appellate ruling that municipal prayer sessions cannot include sectarian deities, such as Jesus Christ.

City Attorney David Fleishman says that Jones, who is affiliated with the Pentecostal Four Square Church, has complied with the policy. But, the suit alleges that Jones has made several Christian references, including “Our Father in Heaven,” “Our Eternal God” and “God, Our Father.”

It also alleges that between Jan. 1, 2008 and Oct. 15, 2013, Christian clergymen delivered 123 of the 126 prayers. Jones delivered 112 of the invocations.

Jones’s Christian references suggest to non-Christians that they are “outsiders at council meetings, are unrepresented in their government and are not full citizens,” the suit states.

 


95 Comments

  1. jimradford says:

    If I lived in Pismo Beach and had to attend a City Council meeting to transact business or
    comment on a city issue, I would be offended to be asked to participate in a city sponsored
    religious rite. Perhaps the City Council should instead ask for a moment of silence to allow
    those who wished to pray to do so, others to organize their thoughts, others to decide what tohave for dinner, or whatever,

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  2. Sarah Bellum says:

    Is anyone truly satisfied with a watered down mainstream protestant christian invocation that carefully avoids Jesus’ name? It seems to me that a bunch of people, not just atheists, are uncomfortable with this mockery of heartfelt worship. Let’s keep prayer in our faith communities, not in our government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  3. JB Bronson says:

    To abigchocoholic: Not arguing with the historical info. you pose. But I do think it misses the point. Let me try it this way:

    Look at SLO County Government, look at SLO City Government, look at Morro Bay government and Atascadero government, Paso Robles government and the Los Osos Sewer Project, and CAPSLO and the homeless and…look at Washington government and stories about bribes and government officials… and …

    If we don’t turn to God, forget religion, if we don’t turn to God, all we are left with is to turn to more of ourselves, which is why the list above just gets longer and longer, and the voter turn out gets less and less, and politicians get more brazen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 12

    • abigchocoholic says:

      If we don’t turn to God, forget religion, if we don’t turn to God, all we are left with is to turn to more of ourselves, which is why the list above just gets longer and longer, and the voter turn out gets less and less, and politicians get more brazen.
      —————————-
      You think by turning to Allah, all of these problems are going to be solved?

      You think the answers lie in 1500 or 2000 year old short stories written by primitive men? Do you turn to the Koran or the Bible for engineering knowledge? For medical knowledge? For any scientific knowledge? These people were primitive and knew next to nothing on every subject possible. What makes you think turning to their simplistic writings is going to solve complex modern political issues?

      All gods hide at all times while the most uneducated and ignorant members in society do their bidding.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

      • zaphod says:

        not true, the word day occurs 365 times the word week appears 52 times the word month 12 times Quran readers know the earth is round (so did Plato) the book has a hidden key, the number 19 and the grand staircase of primes embedded in the work to disclose corrupted text.I am not a believer but I do recognize the sublime sophistication of the writer.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

        • Ted Slanders says:

          Islam had a slight jump on problematic scientific facts since their Quran was written between 610-632AD, so of course they thought the earth was round. Of course this Islamic enlightenment for the Quran was revealed to Muhammed in a cave near Mecca by the angel Gabriel. Sounds equally plausible to Christianity, doesn’t it? *cough*

          Not so for the Christian’s Hebrew God’s rendition where ancient Israel imagined the earth to be a flat disk (Isa 42.5) resting on a foundation or pillars (Job 9.6) Seems that this God was no smarter than His creation, and what does that tell us? 2+2=4.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

          • zaphod says:

            clearly the hebrew God is a liar

            And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
            that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. JB Bronson says:

    To the atheists: Don’t stop with prayer. Do as has been suggested and stop using money that says, “In God We Trust”.

    Then you can proceed with getting rid of all the Christmas commercials on TV!

    Who do you think we are supposed to be celebrating during CHRISTmas season anyway? I’ll bet you don’t mind opening something up on the 25th.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 16

    • abigchocoholic says:

      o the atheists: Don’t stop with prayer. Do as has been suggested and stop using money that says, “In God We Trust”.
      ————————–
      Again, education here is the key. The language used by the founding fathers was E pluribus unum–which translated means out of many one. That’s what the founding fathers came up with. “In God we trust” was not put on paper money until 1957, when Christians were in power in the U.S. and inserting their belief system into government. Your argument is actually a point of fact of how relentless the Christians are in pursuit of inserting religion into government.

      Who do you think we are supposed to be celebrating during CHRISTmas season anyway? I’ll bet you don’t mind opening something up on the 25th
      ———————–
      Again, education is the key. If you look it up, you’ll find that Christmas was a pagan ritual celebrating the winter solstice and fertility rights and that it existed long before the Jesus stories. There is nothing in the bible about Jesus being born on December 25th and a few references where one can deduce he was born in the fall. There is also nothing in the bible about Christmas trees or giving presents to children. Again, these are pagan rituals that true Christians would oppose.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

    • Ted Slanders says:

      JB,

      We should not have “in god we trust” on any money, because it shows reverance to the God Allah! Don’t you agree, especially subsequent to 911?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  5. slophocles says:

    Prayers? Why are there prayers at a city council meeting? In Morro Bay we have a moment of silence that seems to work okay – one of the few things that seems to work okay.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  6. aft50s says:

    I would be interested to know if David Leidner, as an employee of the State of California, accepts Thanksgiving, the day after, and Christmas as paid holidays, or does he refuse to accept these “religious based holidays”, stands firm in his beliefs, and goes to work…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 13

    • slophocles says:

      His place of work would probably be closed, wouldn’t it?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

    • Cindy says:

      Thanksgiving = a religious holiday, LOL

      I think Thanksgiving is about appreciation for the native Indians who feed the pilgrims when they arrived on Plymouth Rock to colonize our country. Without the Indians and their kindness, the Pilgrims would have perished.

      I wonder what the Indians think of Thanksgiving? Either way, it isn’t about religion.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

      • zaphod says:

        Cole Porter wrote:
        Times have changed
        And we’ve often rewound the clock
        Since the Puritans got a shock
        When they landed on Plymouth Rock.
        If today
        Any shock they should try to stem
        ‘Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock,
        Plymouth Rock would land on them.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. thinkaboutit says:

    Anyone willing to walk the talk about keeping God out of government anything should send me all of their American currency that states our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

    Seriously. Do it immediately. We wouldn’t want anyone to be in possession of such personally offensive material and all, now would we?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

    • slophocles says:

      If they sent you all their currency, how would they buy things? The economy would go down the toilet, wouldn’t it? I’m confused.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

    • abigchocoholic says:

      Anyone willing to walk the talk about keeping God out of government anything should send me all of their American currency that states our national motto, “In God We Trust.”
      ————————
      Again, education here is the key.

      The language used by the founding fathers was E pluribus unum–which translated means out of many one. That’s what the founding fathers came up with.

      “In God we trust” was not put on coins until 1864 and not put on paper money until 1957. See, without realizing it, you make the exact point you are trying to argue against. The point you unknowingly make is that it is a relentless pursuit of Christians to try and insert their religion into government and once the Christians do get a foot in the door, they always try to push it wide open with more specious arguments.

      You can see what the Muslims do to the Muslim dominated countries but you can’t see that you are trying to do the same thing to the United States. Your objectivity is blinded by your religion.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

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