- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2014

A Michigan mayor is standing strong against a group of atheists, telling them they can’t put up a “reason station” inside Warren City Hall because, as he sees it, they’re only trying to squash out all public shows of faith and turn the First Amendment on its head.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation asked the mayor in a letter to let the group put up a “reason station [to] promote free thought” and the “use of reason” near an existing prayer station inside city hall, United Press International reported.

But Mayor Jim Fouts said no.

“To my way of thinking,” he wrote the group, in a letter reported by UPI, “your group is strictly an anti-religion group intending to deprive all organized religions of their constitutional freedoms or at least discourage the practice of religion. The City of Warren cannot allow this.”

Mr. Fouts also wrote: “Also, I believe it is this group’s intention to disrupt those who participate in the Prayer Station, which would also be a violation of the freedom of religion amendment. For these reasons, I cannot approve of your request.”

FFRF member Douglas Marshall expressed disappointment at the mayor’s ruling.

“I do view this as a violation of my free speech rights,” Mr. Marshall told the Detroit Free Press. “It seems to me that the mayor allows free speech in the atrium as long as he agrees with the speech. If he doesn’t, he denies speech he doesn’t agree with in the atrium.”

Mr. Marshall said he’s going to speak to an attorney to discuss his options, UPI said.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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