On Sunday, a six-year-old girl was shot in Stockton, California. It’s a tragedy and people in the community wanted to do something in response, so they held a prayer rally on Monday. No, prayer won’t fix the problem, but that’s fine. Mayor Anthony Silva joined them, too, which is also fine if he’s acting as a citizen.
That wasn’t the case, though. He promoted the prayer rally on the city’s website and Facebook page, and even used city resources to host the event.
And to top it off, he gave God a “key to the city“:
Just out of curiosity…
Who accepts that on God’s behalf?
Why the hell would God need a key to anything?
If a lock is all we need to keep God out, then chastity belts must be sacrilegious.
Anyway, that’s all besides the point. The question is why the Mayor thinks he can promote Christianity while on the taxpayers’ dime.
It’s not just this week. Mayor Silva has also “organized Town Hall meetings, co-sponsored by Christian organizations, at Calvary First Assembly of God and at Christian Life Center.” There’s one coming up at the end of the month.
This is a man who thinks Christianity is the official religion of Stockton.
This letter serves as a notice of the City and Mayor’s unconstitutional activity and demands that you terminate all promotion, sponsorship, endorsement or affiliation with Christian Life Center and any other religious organization immediately. We also specifically demand that you find a secular venue for the upcoming “Town Hall Meeting” and that you refrain from using Christian venues for such events. Please contact us immediately indicating that you will take the appropriate steps to remedy these clear constitutional violations, including by expressly renouncing any affiliation with or support of Christian Life Center and the “Mayor’s Prayer Rally.” We also ask for written assurances that these practices will not continue in the future.
It’s true this specific incident revolves around a tragedy, and conservatives are bound to say atheists are minimizing that by focusing on something relatively insignificant, but it’s precisely when people are emotional and vulnerable that laws seem to go out the window. You can grieve for the innocent victim and criticize the Mayor’s unconstitutional reaction at the same time. This is hardly his first misstep.
Speaking with reporters yesterday, Silva said he would not budge his next meeting location:
“You know, if I would have scheduled it at a high school, someone who likes charter schools over public schools might have said they don’t feel welcome there because I don’t believe in public schools … so I’m not [going] to his town hall meeting at the high school. We can’t please everyone.”
What a false equivalence. Either he’s stunningly ignorant or he’s deflecting from the real issue. This isn’t about personal preference. This isn’t about what makes some atheist citizens uncomfortable. This is about promoting Christianity through the government, which is illegal, and which Silva has a habit of doing.
He can keep his meetings at the church all he wants, but his constituents will be the ones shelling out for some legal fees very soon.