The city-sponsored sign had been up for decades. But Mayor Richard Bailey said in February of 2018 that this was a lawsuit waiting to happen — and that the city would lose — which is why the sign in its current form had to be removed or altered.
To avoid potential First Amendment legal challenges and, in the interest of the efficient use of public resources, the City is in the process of updating the directory signs on Third Street and Orange Avenue and at Sixth Street and Orange Avenue.
The City will remove the directory at Sixth and Orange Avenue in Spreckels Park as a part of the project.
The Coronado Council of Churches is aware this is occurring, and they support the City’s efforts.
This redesign effort will ensure our signage is informative and representative by incorporating our community’s civic, social, faith-based and philanthropic organizations.
It would be legal, of course, to include churches in a broader directory of various locations in the city. But to single out various Christian churches for public signage was promotion of religion and a violation of the Establishment Clause.
KUSI reports that the sign has been replaced with one that lists all 10 churches along with other “civic organizations and one non-Christian religious group.”
The sole non-Christian religious group is the (Jewish) Chabad of Coronado.
That’s… better. But adding a bunch of non-Christian groups doesn’t necessarily resolve the issue unless there’s a clear process for other organizations to be included on the sign.
Mayor Bailey told me in a message yesterday afternoon that applications for other groups would be processed by the city clerk’s office. Anyone interested should contact her. (I still think the process needs to be transparent and public.)
The real test of this sign’s legality will be the response if a Muslim or Satanic or atheist group requests inclusion on the list. If the city says no, they’re setting themselves up for a date in court.
It’s also telling that some people are still mad about this. The law firm of Charles LiMandri, an activist who vowed to defend the city for free if the Freedom From Religion Foundation sued over the sign, said of the removed sign, “Terrible news that they took it down. Cowards.” But think about that. They’re made that Christians aren’t getting special treatment from the local government. They’re still on the new sign. That just isn’t good enough for some people when Christian supremacy, not religious neutrality, is their ultimate goal.
(Thanks to Brian for the link. Portions of this article were published earlier)