Hooray for the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Unlike all too many liberal courts throughout the country, which have held that atheist hate speech against Christians is perfectly okay, the Sixth ruled last week that such anti-religious malice is not protected by the First Amendment.
The case dates back to 2010, when the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist hate group based in Madison, Wisconsin, wrote a series of letters to Jim Fouts, Mayor of Warren, Michigan, demanding that the city remove a nativity scene from a holiday display it has put up for years.
Mayor Fouts told the atheists they could go to the devil. So FFRF suggested a supposed compromise. Keep the nativity scene, but add a sign declaring:
“At this season of The Winter Solstice, let reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
Mayor Fouts told the atheists, again, they could go to the devil (whether they believe in their master, the devil, or not). “I will not allow anyone or any organization to attack religion in general,” he wrote, in a letter to FFRF. So the atheist hate group sued, claiming that the city of Warren had trampled upon its free-speech rights.
A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit unanimously disagreed, upholding a previous federal district court decision. The panel declared that holiday displays are not “a seasonal public forum, requiring governments to add all comers to the mix.”
Moreover, the jurists stressed, it is not unconstitutional for a city like Warren to keep an opposing viewpoint out of a holiday display – like the sign created by FFRF, which the atheist hate group specifically designed to provoke and offend Christians.
“If strict neutrality were the order of the day,” the panel reasoned, logically, “the United States Postal Service would need to add all kinds of stamps, religious and nonreligious alike, to its December collection. Veterans’ Day would lead to pacifism Day, the Fourth of July to Non-patriots Day, and so on.”
The heathens at FFRF raged against the Sixth Circuit’s ruling. They attributed it to the fact that “(a)ll thee judges that decided the case were appointed by Bush I or Bush II” and that the author of the unanimous opinion “is considered one of the most conservative judges on the Sixth Circuit.”
But what really must trouble the litigious atheists at FFRF is that the Sixth Circuit has given municipalities throughout the country a new legal defense when and if FFRF demands that they remove a nativity scene during the holidays or tear down a cross at a public war memorial or tell public school kids they are not allowed to pray before football games.
It is, as Mayor Fouts celebrated, “a victory for freedom of religion.”