The Separation on State Street September 16, 2007

The Separation on State Street

There’s a soon-to-be-released documentary called “The Separation on State Street.”

I haven’t seen it, but the synopsis looks right up this blog’s alley:

Anonka, the creator of a museum dedicated to the witch trials, awakened a wasp nest in her conservative, Christian town when she decided to ask the county commission a very simple question:

“Why is the Nativity scene on the courthouse lawn?”

A longer synopsis is after the jump.

The film is the work of award-winning filmmaker & journalist Robert St. Mary.

Here’s the trailer:

A longer synopsis:

When Anonka’s Witch Museum opened on Street Street, the main drag, in downtown Caro, Michigan in early 2000 the town of just over 4,000 didn’t know how to react, Having a curiosity shop showcasing the Inquisition was a bit unusual in this small, farm town so far away from the last site of an American witch persecution – Salem, Massachusetts in the late 1600’s – but Anonka’s ideas were bigger than that. This middle-60’s great-grandmother wanted to show how the mix of religion and government had dangerous results in the past.

In December 2001, another Christmas season came to Caro and with it the annual placement of a Nativity scene on the courthouse lawn. This left Anonka wondering who paid for the Nativity set it up and why it was there in the first place. She would take these questions to her county board of commissioners – they didn’t want to hear them.

At a Tuscola County Commission meeting two-weeks before Christmas, Anonka and her daughter Tammra asked for their five-minutes to make public comment on their objections to the Christ scene. Instead, they were cut off, not allowed to speak and mocked by several of their elected officials for their lack of religious faith.

Feeling powerless, Anonka turned to the Federal Court. She decided to sue the county commission for not only the placement of the Nativity scene on government property but for the discrimination she felt she suffered at the meeting by those who did not respect her right as a citizen to speak before their government.

As soon as the case was filed, the town started to attract media attention. With the exposure came attacks against Anonka, her family and grandchildren. Anonka’s Witch Museum continued to push along against public opinion, legal setbacks and personal hardships during the two-plus-years the case rumbled through the Federal Court system. Along the way an interesting cast of individuals – from a minister to a newspaper editor to a State Representative to an “enlightened master” – would all converge on the issue of Anonka’s complaint, Church/State separation and “The Separation on State Street.”

[tags]atheist, atheism, independent film, documentary[/tags]

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  • Alyce de Carteret

    I love how his argument is that separation of church and state appears nowhere in the Constitution.

    Well, sir, it appears quite clearly in the Bible:

    “Render therefore unto Caesar the things
    which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
    Matthew 22:21

  • Susan

    One more mention of how we are a “Christian nation” and I may throw up.

    Though I’ll hold it in long enough to watch this film.

  • Darryl

    Bit by bit, chip by chip, the blindness of these kinds of Christians is being picked away. Their fundamental error is to not recognize that complacency which comes from the isolation of a more-or-less monolithic culture. Inter-racial/ethnic/religious/gender/etc.-understanding and cooperation is progressing more quickly in the large cities and their suburbs, but the day is coming when even these small, backward towns will have to face reality. Globalism is coming to Caro, Michigan. People like this lady are on the cutting edge of this trend, and they feel the cut.

  • Maria

    it’s sad that there is still hate like this. I don’t get why the Christians who got angry are so mad-no one is telling them that they can’t have a nativity scene or a cross anywhere in the town. Just not on governement property. Move it to private property, of which there is plenty of (churches, houses)-problem solved. Anyone driving through will still see it. And don’t get mad when people of other religions display things about their religions on their properties!

  • Alex

    Its videos like that, that make me go from Atheist to Angry Atheist to Homicidal Atheist to Genocidal Atheist.

  • Nathan Phillips

    I hope to see this movie when I can find it. I’m from that town and remember the boycots and uneasiness. Unfortunately the crosses are still up in business windows as a reminder that Caro is not a tolerant city.

  • J.A.L.

    I would like to say that I am not an atheist, but I’m also not a crazy, Bible thumping Jesus freak either, and I DO respect EVERYONES believes and practices, no matter what they are.

    I totally agree with Nathan on this one. My husband and I moved to Caro in 2009 because of his job and this is NOT a tolerant place to live if you are in ANY way different.

    My husband is respected because of his job but I am scored by the community because I am of Asian decent and many people have referred to me as the “Asian Witch” because I refuse to attend church, instead opting to worship in my own way: at home, in private.

    I was not here to witness any of what was happening with this poor woman but I too had the same question. It makes no sense to me but for my husband’s sake, reputation and job, I usually keep quite about these things.

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