May 19, 2024

Inappropriate invocations of the Rowlett City Council

A few weeks ago, me and several other atheists attended a meeting of the Rowlett Texas City Council. They decided they were going to hold a public display of their Christian religious beliefs at the commencement of every meeting, posted on their agenda, and that they weren’t going to correct this practice regardless of the law or community response. That night the community’s response was exclusively secular, and representative of at least 1/3 of their constituency.

We tried to reason with them. We tried to explain why secular government is necessary. We offered a compromise explaining that a ‘moment of silence’ would be inclusive rather than deliberately divisive. Some of the testimony was heartfelt emotion. But despite the accusations of several of the city council members, we were respectful and conducted ourselves accordingly.

I pointed out how intentionally exclusionary their invocation is. I also explained how it is unconstitutional both at the state and federal level, and that it is inappropriate conduct for a few other reasons. Their response was inappropriate too. In the image above, some of them were -at that moment- facebooking derisive comments against us, calling us ‘children’ and saying ‘piss on us’, comments like that, things no elected representative should be saying at all, but especially not on social networks, and certainly not when sitting on the bench while testimony is still being delivered.

I should add that the mayor made no attempt to control the vitriol against us on his own facebook. All he did do was to warn his associates to be careful what they said publicly. So he was aware what was being said and could tell what was being implied.

Just to be clear, regardless how justified your political views may or may not be, the secular perspective is one which does not evoke or involve religion. Religious views are often asserted as fact, but -make no mistake- religious views are NOT evidently true, and cannot be verified to be accurate. Historically they’re usually wrong on many other levels too. That’s just how religion is and has always been. This is just one of many reasons why religion should not be regarded nor encouraged in the rulings of any governmental body.

I believe in posting appropriate responses. I also believe people in representative positions should show responsible conduct too. But then I also believe in accuracy and accountability and a number of other ethics not apparently shared by this not-really representative body. Perhaps I’m more of a ‘believer’ than they are.

25 thoughts on “Inappropriate invocations of the Rowlett City Council

  1. Is it unconstitutional at the state level? I’m still thinking about that lovely “no religious test as long as you believe in a higher power” crap.

    1. The 14th Amendment of the Constitution gives federal law dominance over state law. All of those religious-test bits in the various state constitutions are invalidated by Article 6 of the US Constitution and have been shut down many times by the courts. The text is still there, but its unenforceable. Anything in a state constitution that violates the federal constitution is dead verbiage.

    2. Lilandra? Aron? Could one of you nuke this and the preceding comment? I seem to have hit some sort of CTRL or ALT key-combination that triggered a premature submission.

        1. Heh, thanks. Although the self-referential nuking-post is still there. ^.^

          Actually, this isn’t a bad place for it, though, since it’s now pulled out of the thread it was in. I was mostly worried about conversational coherency, and plucking it out of there achieved that.

    1. Works fine for me. You might be running into some sort of international filter or something.

      1. That sounds a bit odd, but I’m guessing it’s a server-side setting preventing it.

        Oh, well..

        1. That’s what I meant, yeah. Sorry. It’s similar to YouTube blocking some content in certain countries, using IP filtering. The images are linked from I have no idea who that is, and I don’t feel like looking it up. One of Facebook’s domains, perhaps?


          I can’t imagine newspaper photos being blocked for international distribution, but it wouldn’t be even close to the most bizarre thing I’ve seen media outlets do in some misguided attempt to protect their copyrights.

          1. Yes, fbcdn is Facebook: CDN = Content Delivery Network or Content Distribution Network.

            Just about any time you see a domain name that does (foo)cdn, you are seeing a content server for (foo).

          2. I can’t imagine Facebook having regional IP filters for photos like that. Weird. I don’t know what to guess.

          3. I think it’s merely an block for off-site linking to the photos to reduce server and traffic load, as I can open the photos fine if I go to them directly.

  2. Anyone that actuallt understands history and the constitution understands that there is no “seperation of church and state”, the only thing that we have is a guarantee that we will not be forced to worship in a state FOUNDED “church of the united states”

    1. Ummmmmmmm, no. State supported religion is also a violation. It’s an elaboration of the First Amendment to the Constitution, as explained by the writers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They explicitly said that the only application of the First Amendment is a solid wall of separation between church and state. That perspective has been further established by just about all Supreme Court precedent.

      People challenge the separation of church and state all the time, making arguments similar to yours, and they lose once the case gets high enough within the court system.

      I suggest you learn a bit more about history and the Constitution, before you attempt to lecture us about it. Atheists are generally far more knowledgeable on these subjects, because we often need the protection of the Constitution to protect us from oppression by the Christian majority, in this country. That’s what the Constitution is freaking there for.

    2. @angelbane

      Now, I think you’re dead wrong, but I am curious as to what exactly you think, and why you think it. How can I say that you’re dead wrong if I’m not even sure what your position is? Because your position is something other than the mainstream.

      Now, I could quote a lot of Thomas Jefferson, and his work about religious liberties and freedom. I could talk about he how he got religious tests for office removed from his home state of Virginia.

      I could talk about how, as president, Jefferson wrote the following:

      I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

      I could go on about how Jefferson was instrumental in framing the related pieces of the first amendment of the US constitution, how this was the consensus view of the effect of the first amendment at the time of the writing and passing.

      I could cite US Supreme Court decisions, like Everson v. Board:

      The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between Church and State.’

      I could go on even more than this has always been the well-understood meaning of the first amendment, except in historical revisionist circles like your own.

      So, you seem to disagree with this position, which makes you wrong, but I’m still curious about the details. Do you disagree with any part of the above snippet from the Everson V. Board decision? What parts? What do you think the constitution on these matters guarantees, specifically? And how does it differ from the above snippet? What historical evidence do you have to support your position? What is your standard or method of jurisprudence which you suggest we use?

      1. From what I gathered of his phrasing, I think his primary malfunction is a far too strict interpretation of the establishment clause of the first amendment. I think he’s saying that anything short of official state designation of a specific denomination of Christianity is fair game. The rest sort of proceeds naturally from that initial misconception.

        He also seems like he might be one of those sorts who don’t consider Christianity a religion. The sort who say that “Even Jesus didn’t like religion. I just believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have a personal relationship with God. And that’s not religion, so telling all of the children about that in public schools is just fine.”

        I could be wrong in my guess, on that second point, though. I’m reading into his words a little bit, there.

        1. … or hell, his use of the word “founded” makes it seem like his stance might be even more extreme than what I said. Hopefully, he’s not so stupid as to think that recognizing an existing denomination of Christianity as the official state religion is significantly different from creating a new state denomination from scratch, but his wording implies that.

  3. I just wanted to thank the author for getting up in front of the Rowlett Texas City Council and addressing an issue that surely would have been ignored otherwise. It gave me a feeling of pride that in this world that can at times feel so vast and confusing, there are individuals like you that strive for truth and knowledge even within a community that is largely dedicated to secular beliefs and the destruction of knowledge through religious dogma. The world feels a bit smaller knowing you are but a stone’s throw away. I’m across the pond in Rockwall, hopefully I can find some fellow atheists and try and do my part here, for whatever it is worth.

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