Thursday, August 12, 2010

Atheists Boot Christians from County Fair

Annual Sunday church services canceled at Montana fair after accusations from out-of-state atheist group saying free admission to the fair for the church service is discriminatory.

Same atheists fail in South Carolina: Atheists' Prayer Threat Rejected by Municipalities

-- From "Fair church service, concert moved after pressure from out-of-state 'free thinkers'" by Jessie Higgins, The Missoulian 8/8/10

Missoula [MT] businessman Michael Burks said he worked with fair managers all summer, hoping to host the traditional church service and a Christian rock concert in the fairgrounds' grassy infield arena on Sunday, Aug. 15, but was ultimately turned away.

The county said it did not have adequate time to ensure the church service abided by state and federal laws mandating the separation of church and state, said Missoula County Chief Administrative Officer Dale Bickell.

The county's decision was influenced by a complaint sent to the Missoula Board of County Commissioners in April by the Freedom From Religion Foundation - a Wisconsin-based group of atheists and agnostics who call themselves "free thinkers."

The group "works to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism, and to promote the constitutional principle of separation between church and state," according to its website. "Since 1978, the Foundation has acted on countless violations of the separation of state and church, and has taken and won many significant complaints and important lawsuits to end state/church entanglements and challenge the ‘faith-based initiative.' "

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "In Montana, a Fight Over Separation of Church and Fairgrounds" By Tess Civantos, 8/11/10

Sunday morning church is a long-standing tradition at the Missoula County Fair, thanks to the Missoula Christian Network’s planning. But that tradition fell by the wayside this year after complaints from a national atheist group, which called the service “a violation of civil rights.”

Rebecca Markert, staff attorney for the atheist/agnostic group Freedom From Religion, said, “Anyone who went to the church service received free admission to the county fair, which is a violation of the Civil Rights Act. It discriminates against non-churchgoers.”

According to Steve Earle, director of the Missoula County Fairgrounds, the churchgoers did receive free admission – but so did every other Sunday morning fair attendee. The fair does not offer churchgoers any special privileges, Earle told

Keith Mobley, a pastor with the Missoula Christian Network, said, “There are people in this town that are very anti-Christ, anti-religion, anti-Church. You could say this is Liberal-ville, Montana. But we’re not going to let some out-of-state group tell us we can’t meet at our county fair to worship.”

Meanwhile, Mobley is hopeful the church service will return to next year’s County Fair.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.