As fundamentalists so frequently do when obtaining power, the fundamentalists who dominate the Lancaster City Council (particularly the mayor, R. Rex Parris, and council persons Sherry Marquez and Ron Smith) have overplayed their hand, drawing a lawsuit against the city. The lawsuit was entered on behalf of a nonfundamentalist Christian and a Jewish woman. This from the May edition of GoldenPoppyAVMag.com:
Two Los Angeles County residents filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging religious invocations by clergy at City Council meetings in Lancaster, where voters last month passed a ballot measure making the practice city policy. . . .
The lawsuit was filed by attorney Roger Jon Diamond, who challenged a similar practice in Burbank in 2000 and won a state appellate court ruling saying the practice violated the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment.
Diamond sued on behalf of Lancaster resident Maureen Feller, who is Christian but said in the lawsuit that she was upset by prayer at council meetings, and Shelly Rubin, who is Jewish. Rubin, chief executive of the Jewish Defense League, is the widow of Irv Rubin, who was a plaintiff in the lawsuit against Burbank. . . .
Diamond said sectarian prayer at government meetings is illegal, regardless of which religious beliefs are being expressed. . . . “If next week they prayed in the name of Allah, it wouldn’t make a difference,” he said. “It doesn’t help that maybe once in a while, they violate the law in a different way.”
Peter Eliasberg, an ACLU attorney who sent the letter to the city, said that because the California Supreme Court declined to take up the issue in the Burbank case, a different outcome in the Lancaster lawsuit would be unlikely.
I wonder how many of our taxpayer dollars that Mayor Parris, and the other council members, will devote to defending against this lawsuit (as opposed to simply stopping their sectarian religious practices at taxpayer expense).
And did you know that Lancaster, California, a city of more than 150,000 people, doesn’t even have a general purpose bookstore? The mayor and city council will no doubt spend an inordinate amount of time fighting this lawsuit even as the community languishes without a bookstore.
Think about what that says about a city’s priorities.
Ironic and pathetic, yes?
Below is a photograph I took of where Lancaster’s only general purpose bookstore once was. It closed back in January, 2010. To my knowledge, neither R. Rex Parris, nor any of his fellow members on the city council, has lamented its closure, nor said anything about making an effort to attract a bookstore back to our community.
The shadow shown falling on the walkway in front of the door is being cast by a palm tree. I can’t help but think of Wallace Stevens’s line, “The palm at the end of the mind.”
But losing the city’s bookstore doesn’t get the council wound up. Making a special point to pray in Jesus’s name before the start of city council meetings does. Below is an image of the Lancaster City Council in chamber. As you can see, they recently put “In God We Trust” in giant letters behind them (no doubt again on the taxpayer’s dime).
They’re not subtle, are they?