Atheists cry foul over Pismo Beach City Council’s Christian invocations

July 2, 2012

Pismo Beach’s City Council may find itself in court if it continues to allow Christian laden invocations to lead its supposed secular meetings.

Members of Atheists United of San Luis Obispo have repeatedly asked the Pismo Beach City Council to stop allowing openly Christian invocations at its meetings. They note that while invocations at public meetings can refer to a God, they are not permitted to include explicit references to any religion including Christianity.

However, Dr. Paul Jones, who regularly gives the city council’s invocations, has made references to “the baby that was born so long ago in Bethlehem’s manger” and calls upon “Christ our Lord.”

Jones has also stated in several of his invocations that civic order is dependent on religious faith.

In a May 15 letter to the council, local atheists argue that the invocations are not only “inherently dismissive of non-religious persons,” but also violate the law.

“Atheists United of San Luis Obispo remains hopeful that an acceptable resolution can be reached with the city of Pismo Beach, but is considering further action should the city continue to be unresponsive,” the group said today in a press release.


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Slowerfaster

DOCTOR Paul Jones ?


Sounds like a secret Muslim to me !

Typical subversive ! A perfecy hidden name !


Slowerfaster

Oh My Gosh ! I pray that OUR Christian God come from the Heavens and Smite these atheist blasphemiers into some pit-fire of HELL, because that is where they are going for all eternity anyway ( Praise God ! )

He would not need to go far, as that sulfur pool that opened up at City hall in Paso is STILL belching forth foul odors !

HALLELUJAH !


It gets pretty stinky near Pismo up Price Canyon Road, so maybe we can tie these ungodly atheists on posts up that way to compel them to admit their sins before us true Christians mete justice to them!


Holy, holy, holy !


thinkaboutit

You’re mocking Christians…right?


Slowerfaster

Shame on you !


joetussin

Some people have nothing better to do with their time than be a hater. Move on and do something productive with your lives.


MaryMalone

Would you feel the same way if the message was invoking the Islamic faith’s doctrines?


In addition, I can’t think of anything more productive than standing up for the Constitution.


thinkaboutit

At least you didn’t use “pimp” in your post.


This time.


MaryMalone

I call ’em as I see ’em. Don’t like my posts? Use the powers you have as an adult to simply skip right by them.


MaryMalone

P.S. “Pimp” is just a word. The power it has over you to cause you upset is the power you give to it.


Here’s another MM quote:


“If you get upset when someone kicks your sacred cow, perhaps your cow isn’t so sacred.”

–Mary Malone


helfk

good thing you’re taking the time to read & comment on this story!


Pizmo

“In God We Trust” has only been on money since 1957. Voted for by religious conservatives.


Bluebird & Mkaney both make valid points.


Bluebird

Atascadero used to have a prayer at the beginning of the meeting but members of the public brought up the issue of separtion of church and state so now the Chsristian conservative ministrial community gives a prayer at public comment time where you can speak on any topic not on the agenda.. The camel still has his nose in the tent because the minister is allowed to be first. Everyone of the council members bows their head and folds there hands in prayer.

The previous commentators make it obvious that they believe separation of church and state should not apply to Chrisitans.


bobfromsanluis

Funny how so many religious believers, especially Christians, seemingly have to make public pronouncements of or about their faith; instead of beating people over the head with the rhetoric of religious dogma, how about leading by example? What is Dr. Jones doing to help the poor, the hungry, the homeless? It is one thing to talk about the teachings of Jesus, it is another completely different thing to actually do the things he taught.


ds_gray

I fail to understand how making a simple invocation at the beginning of a meeting is ‘beating people over the head’ or making ‘pronouncements of or about faith’.


From the Bill of Rights, Amendment 1;

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”


It is neither unlawful nor an ‘establishment’ to deliver an invocation at the beginning of a meeting. Quite to the contrary, The Atheists position lies in direct conflict with Amendment 1, as the Atheists are seeking to restrict the free exercise of religion (prayer) in a public place. They are also seeking to restrict the content of the invocation, which is also protected in Amendment 1.


They are not seeking new freedoms, they are seeking to remove freedoms provided by the Constitution. The authors of the Constitution would call that tyranny.


thinkaboutit

Succinct and accurate post, ds_gray.


It is unfortunate that few people seem to have knowledge of the very first amendment of the Bill of Rights.


Worse, many more seem eager to dishonor it.


bobfromsanluis

“I fail to understand how making a simple invocation at the beginning of a meeting is ‘beating people over the head’ or making ‘pronouncements of or about faith’.”

IF this was a “simple invocation” as you call it that did not speak to one particular faith (Christianity) there would not be a problem. The “beating people over the head” part is the absolute refusal by Dr. Jones to stay within the guidelines of keeping the invocation strictly non-denominational. What Dr. Jones is guilty of is violating the law that defines a separation of church from state; the city council of Pismo Beach may be local, may be “small”, but it is still an extension of “government” which means, by law, there is not supposed to be a favoritism shown to any specific religion. The atheists have it completely correct here; it isn’t the invocation itself, it is the inclusion of the mention of Christianity, whether implicit or blatant.


ds_gray

It was, and it remains, a simple invocation. The council was not dictating orders to the audience, “HEAR ME AND OBEY” or anything of the sort. To suggest that it was more than a simple invocation and that people were somehow physically harmed at its delivery is pure folly and nonsense.


And you’re mixing ‘faith’ with religion. They are not the same thing. Faith in this context is a certainty beyond empirical proof in a spiritual creator-being, religion is the outward practice of that faith within the doctrine of the specific religion. Christianity is a faith in the spirit of Jesus Christ; Catholicism, Lutherans, Episcopacy, etc. are religions whose faith lies in the spirit of Jesus Christ.


Atheists also have a faith and they are trying to force it on the council – their faith is that there is no God, to which they have no empirical proof. In their defense its hard to prove something doesn’t exist, but that fact asserts my point that Atheism is the outward practice of faith, and Atheists United is practicing their religion when they protest or file civil complaints. Their faith has no core belief system and exists only to strike out against ‘theists’ – not a very uplifting aim to be sure.


Again I submit that in this case, the Atheists are stepping or the Council’s rights – as free people the council members have them and don’t check them at the door when they walk into council chambers. If THEY choose to observe a moment of prayer BEFORE the people’s work commences, they are allowed under Amendment 1.


Further I submit that by forcing those who pray to omit certain words in their prayers is akin to censorship and we as free people are protected from such things by the same amendment 1. The ‘separation’ you speak of is not in the Constitution, but in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson many years after the Bill of Rights was adopted. It is not law, it is correspondence interpreted as law and does not exist in the Constitution.


bobfromsanluis

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” I added the boldface to the word “establishment” to highlight how important that was to our founding fathers, and here is a little more to add to that discussion.

“The authors of the U.S. Constitution were concerned about the potential power of religious institutions to generate conflict, if they were linked in any way with the government. At the time that the Constitution was written, Europe was enjoying their first period of relative peace following many decades of intra-religious warfare that had caused the deaths of many millions of people. The authors of the Bill of Rights wrote the Establishment Clause into the First Amendment that forbids any establishment of religion by the federal government. Further amendments to the Constitution, and its interpretations by the courts, led to the concept of separation of church and state at the federal, state, and municipal levels of government.


The guiding principles are that:


Individuals are guaranteed almost complete freedom of religious expression.


Government and their agencies (including public schools, council meetings, etc):

May not recognize one religious faith as more valid than any other faith or secularism.


May not promote religion above secularism.


May not promote secularism above religion.


Some historians have attributed the strength of religious institutions in the U.S., and the relative peace among faith groups, to this separation principle.


Again, and yes, I am repeating myself since it is apparently not sinking in to you, it isn’t the invocation that is the problem, it is the mentioning of Christianity that is the problem. If Dr. Jones would keep the invocation “non-denominational”, there would not be a problem. I am done on this topic since you cannot apparently see this point. Good day.


MaryMalone

No invociations, as long as they are promoting any type of belief system.


Americans have a right to NOT have a belief in a higher power, and that right includes not spending their tax dollars to provide funding for loser preachers who can’t get a pulpit any other way than “slouching to a government-funded pulpit to be born again.”


mrcyberdoc

Sure beats strapping on a row of C-4 around one’s waist and blowing up a group of people in the name of their god. Oh, but I guess that takes “public pronouncement” to a whole new level.


thinkaboutit

Now ain’t that the truth – sans explosive delivery of the “Good News” and all…


mkaney

Really people? Why not just stop doing it? These atheists are not being bullies. Why do Christians always seem to feel that they are oppressed and bullied in a country largely controlled by them? They just need to stop doing this religious thing, it’s totally inappropriate for a secular city in a secular state in a secular nation. I personally do not need to be reminded that people are so gullible that they would believe some magic tricks were performed by someone without any evidence without any reliable witnesses (at least reliable by today’s standards).


MaryMalone

QUOTING McKANEY: “Why do Christians always seem to feel that they are oppressed and bullied in a country largely controlled by them?”


————–


Thankfully, it isn’t all Christians who have this zealous and pathetic need to climb on the cross and play the martyr. It does get old, however.


thinkaboutit

Christians *are* martyred throughout the world for doing good works and simply practicing their faith. I’m reasonably certain they would have preferred to live.


Were any of them acting on a “pathetic need to climb on the cross and play the martyr” when they were imprisoned and persecuted to death?


I doubt it.


helfk

Atheists are killed for being atheist elsewhere in time/the world, too. That’s not the issue here. No one in America is trying to kill you or even shut down your churches. We just don’t want you bringing your church into our city hall meetings. They’re not a place for you to preach. how would you feel if it was opened by a Muslim prayer? I doubt you’d be so tolerant.


thinkaboutit

I’m secure in my own beliefs. I’d have no problem with that, helfk. It’s supposedly a free country. We can pray or not pray as we like, but no one is being forced to pray at these meetings.


I disagree that one’s church is being brought into city hall meetings. Rather, it is an invocation (blessing) that is being facilitated to encourage goodwill. Have you attended many city hall meetings? We need all the help we can get!


By the same token, do you avoid:


1) uttering the “Pledge of Allegiance” because “under God” is professed?

2) placing your hand on a Bible in court?

3) voting for political candidates who conclude public speeches with “God bless America”?

4) spending all American currency emblazoned with “In God We Trust?”


….or do you *consistently* reject all of the above in deference to principle in “tolerance” of other expressions of faith, as well?


MaryMalone

1. I don’t have a problem with people sticking in the “under God” if they are so pathetically weak in their religion they have to do it. I just don’t want to be forced to put that unconstitutional phrase in anything I say. Your mileage may vary.


2. LOL. I’ll let you know if I have to testify in court and they demand I swear on a Bible….you can sell tickets.


3. I believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that govern our land. I don’t believe a politician would be using their elected office, or candidacy for office, to pimp their religion to get votes. As slimy as politics is, that any religious person would want to taint their religion with politics–I think it is a demonstration of hypocrisy and worse.


4. As far as the kinds of protests that require lots of attorney funding, I rely on the groups I support to do that for me. When they start arresting owners of stores that try to pass off unconstitutional “in-god-we-trust” currency, or the Congress that fails to get that message off the currency, then I’ll take it on a personal level. Until then, I support the big guns to deal with it.


MaryMalone

People who are Christians are not the only people in the world persecuted for who they are or what they believe.


The problem is when preachers make such a big deal about being christ-like that it morphs into becoming a martyr—and then the christians wander around, looking for reasons to play the faux martyr.


Glenn Beck was one of the best, most recent, faux martyrs. But I don’t care who does it–it gets old. It’s a pathetic drive to draw attention to oneself, and using a religion to do it is just plain wrong.


Spirit Filled

Read some books on Saints MM. People that have died for our religion. You might be surprised at how many died for you. Not patheticly climbing on a cross. All facts can be checked. Do your homework please before being so insulting. God Bless you sister whether you want the blessings or not. I will be available for you at any time. Sounds like you need a hug.


Spirit Filled

They just need to stop doing this religious thing


I can’t believe you said that. Okay now I believe you did. Obviously you haven’t had an ephany yet. It will happen. Changes your mind about God. I have been touched by the warmth of my Lords presence. And have had many Ephany’s over the years. I am a lucky blessed man.


We have freedom of religion, thank God. And most of us would die to keep it free. God Bless the unbelievers. Maybe when the blessings come even one at a time, they will change the negative into positive.


Everytime I read something like this I am reminded of the little high school girl who was asked by one of the Columbine shooters if she still believed in God? She said yes of course or something in the affirmative then he shot her in the face with a shot gun. I would gladly take her place. She is a good example of the American Spirit under God. If every American lived and believed in the Lord like she did we would be a lot better off.


I am not saying that every religion other than mine us not right. If people believe in God and live a moral life then they are living in the way of Jesus.


I aam not an authority on the bible. I simply love God with every part of me. God Bless,


Ana di Plosis

What’s an “ephany”? A short epiphany?


pasoparent5

These atheists are being bullies.


helfk

a bully is a person in a position of superior power over another using that power to hurt or exploit them. These are people politely asking their fellows to respect them and to respect the law. They are certainly not being bullies but perhaps feel they are being bullied.


MaryMalone

WAAH! That’s it? The equivalent of “they are being mean to me”?


Listen, when you consider someone standing up for the Constitution to be “being bullies,” you have a problem.


JB Bronson

I suggest we tell these atheists we will consider their request when they stop spending money that says: “In God We Trust”.


MaryMalone

Illogical. You are setting unreasonable requirements for Americans to be free from a government-pimped religion.


Ana di Plosis

I suggest that you actually read the Constitution and count how many times the words “God” or “Jesus” are used. Zero. Why? Because what unites us as a nation is not christianity or any other religion but a completely secular document. “In God We Trust” was added to our currency and “under God” to our pledge during the horrendous McCarthy era, supposedly to distinguish us good, God-fearing Americans from those evil, atheistic Soviets. It’s only a matter of time before both references to God are rightfully removed from anything connected with our secular government.


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