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AU + Allies Challenge Michigan City’s Rejection Of Atheist Display

July 23, 2014

It’s a simple lesson that seems difficult for some people to understand: once you open up a public, taxpayer-funded space for the expression of one opinion on religion, you have to open it up for all.  Just as religious groups would complain if an atheist organization were given free space to communicate their ideas inside a government building while rejecting theirs, atheists have the right to use public space that has been provided to religious organizations.  If you allow one viewpoint and one viewpoint only, then you are promoting that viewpoint while suppressing others.  It’s not the role of government to decide whose viewpoint is appropriate to be expressed and which is not.

But Michigan seems to need a reminder:

Since 2009, the city has allowed a local church group to run a prayer station in which volunteers distribute religious pamphlets, offer to pray with passersby, and discuss their religious beliefs with people who approach the station. The lawsuit filed today does not seek to have the prayer station removed, but instead asks the court to order the city to treat believers and non-believers equally.

For those who assume (incorrectly) that Americans United only supports atheistic viewpoints, that last sentence is important: it’s not that non-believers should be treated better or have more rights than believers.  It’s that ALL viewpoints should be treated equally by the government, since the government is representing all of us, regardless of religion or lack thereof.  This helps protect ALL religious views and forms of expression.

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