My buddy Mark is part of an effort to bring a certain long-established political practice to an end: sectarian prayers at the meetings of the Fresno City Council. Essentially, they took the time to meticulously document how at virtually every meeting of the Council last year some local religious leader referenced Jesus Christ or Christianity.

Here's the details of those invocations in spreadsheet form. I count 15 specific references to Jesus Christ. On the face of it, it would seem that this is sectarian and thus unconstitutional. It will be very interesting to see what the City Attorney publicly says about this, as Council President Larry Westerlund (who has aspirations of running for Congress) is already grandstanding on the supposed rights of the Christian majority and how they are the victims of intolerance.

Here's a Bee article describing the stand Mark is taking with other members of CVASS and the national Freedom from Religion Foundation. He's brave. Surprisingly, as mentioned on the CVASS site, even the one Muslim cleric who appeared in the last year's worth of videos mentioned Jesus. Well, hrrmm, he was a prophet.


John Morales said...


I applaud your evident security in your faith and commitment to secularism, Scott.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Well, John, I feel like we all have to stand together to protect the liberties of everyone. If I let them come for the atheists...some of whom are my friends....then next time they might come for some other group. Sooner or later, it will be my group they come for. So, yeah, I try to point the light of my candle toward what unites us. I appreciate the kudos!

Calladus said...

A friend asked me, "It's such a small thing, why should it concern you?"

My reply - dangerously radical religious groups rarely start off by burning heretics and non-theists at the stake! You don't eat that elephant all in one bite.

If the council, and Westerlund, is willing to flout State and Local law in this small way on video, what are they doing out of the light of scrutiny? This should worry every Fresno citizen.

Today I learned that Westerlund is still in the military. (Guard or Reserve I think.) He, like myself, has taken an oath that he will, "...support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic...".

By breaking the law, and flouting the Establishment clause of the Constitution, Westerlund has become a domestic enemy of the Constitution. I understand the importance of the oath we both took, and I'm willing to assist Westerlund in his understanding.