An Appeal To Reason

Oct 7, 2014

By Sarah Jones

Four days a week in Warren, Mich., volunteers pray with local residents. But the prayers aren’t happening at a church. Instead, they’re taking place in city hall, at a “prayer station” established for exactly this purpose.

Originally created by members of the Tabernacle Church, a local Pentecostal denomination, Warren’s “prayer station” endured with little controversy for years. In 2009, volunteers explained their mission to the Los AngelesTimes.

“It’s sad to realize that people have to get so low before they find their faith,” one said, adding, “And it’s sad to see how far we’ve fallen.”

Tabernacle’s pastor, Darius Wal­den, told the Times, “We figured out pretty fast that people had lost faith in the auto industry, and lost faith in the state. But they still were reaching for something to believe in.”

A 2012 Washington Post article referred to the station’s volunteers as “God’s receptionists” and credited the city with an “unusual openness to mingling church and state.”


Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.

19 comments on “An Appeal To Reason

  • . Douglas Marshall, an atheist, filed a request to add a “reason station” to Warren Civic Center.

    Small wonder the town council was against the “reason station”. Imagine if they were allowed more scope than simply handing out pamphlets; on one hand a collection of groups practising their superstitious rituals ; the other corner housing a group of lively debaters and stimulating discussions. I would envision keen competition to be one of the volunteers on the reason station if this were the case.



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  • 2
    Miserablegit says:

    I expect the reason for denying a reason station pun intended would be that it would cause conflict and of course show up the prayer station for what it is, namely an excuse for the state to ram religion publicly down people’s throats.



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  • I hope you wrote that pinko commie bastid back and informed him that he’s abusing his authority to limit the exchange of ideas in what is supposed to be a free market…



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  • And you would be totally correct. This is what is reported later on in the article:

    But Fouts hasn’t backed down from his position on the reason station – or on atheism itself. In remarks to the Associated Press, he reiterated his opposition to the proposal and argued, “The city has certain values that I don’t believe are in general agreement with having an atheist station, nor in general agreement with having a Nazi station or Ku Klux Klan station. I cannot accept or will not allow a group that is disparaging of another group to have a station here.”

    The mayor’s comparison of non-believers to Nazis and KKK members sparked a backlash. He later attempted to backtrack, telling The Huf­fington Post website, “I do not consider atheists to be Nazis or anything of that nature. I believe they’re loyal Americans just like anybody else.” However, Fouts added, he still thinks the project would “promote conflict, consternation and controversy.”

    That characterization upset Marshall, who said he’s “highly offended” by Fouts’ remarks.

    Even worse, Fouts didn’t address the core concern driving the lawsuit, Marshall said.

    “The city promoting religion and not allowing me [to promote free­thought] is violating my free-speech rights,” Marshall explained.

    In other words, Christianity is A-OK but atheists should STFU because they upset religious believers and, worse, the city’s very values, merely by existing.



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  • Only in the America. And you wonder why the rest of the world cringes at the frequency of this stupidity in America. Guys. It’s 2014. Civilization has moved on since the McCarthy era.



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  • @OP – “It’s sad to realize that people have to get so low before they find their faith,” one said, adding, “And it’s sad to see how far we’ve fallen.”

    Tabernacle’s pastor, Darius Wal­den, told the Times, “We figured out pretty fast that people had lost faith in the auto industry, and lost faith in the state. But they still were reaching for something to believe in.”

    Yep! – The integrity of car salesmen, the state politicians, and the advertising media, is recognised as morally very dubious, so it really did take opportunist, hypocritical, preachers, to get their illegal proselytising sales pitch, right down below the rest, to the anti-reason scrapings at the bottom of the barrel!

    @OP – But Fouts hasn’t backed down from his position on the reason station – or on atheism itself. In remarks to the Associated Press, he reiterated his opposition to the proposal and argued, “The city has certain values that I don’t believe are in general agreement with having an atheist station,

    Clearly the “values” of “faith-thinking” cannot compete with reason! – But “faith-thinking”, does allow thick irrational politicians, to interpret laws as matching their preconceptions even when they contradict them!



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  • Nitya Oct 8, 2014 at 12:34 am

    Imagine if they were allowed more scope than simply handing out pamphlets; on one hand a collection of groups practising their superstitious rituals ; the other corner housing a group of lively debaters and stimulating discussions.

    I know, .. . . all the volunteers praying with local residents, with those prayer mats facing Mecca, and the statues of Buddha and Vishnu taking up so much space!



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  • Fouts added, he still thinks the project would “promote conflict, consternation and controversy.”

    I should bloody well hope, no insist, that it would!



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  • Oh that’s sneaky. That’s very clever David. But I’m afraid we’ve seen this particular maneuver used to escape detection before, and we won’t be fooled so easily again.

    —-//—-

    I hope they make some progress in this case. Ignoring the separation of church and state is unfortunately very common here in the south. It will definitely become easier to go against it if highly publicized opposition is successful. Many people want to speak up but don’t want to take on the trouble if there is no hope of success, especially when the vulnerable may be hurt by backlash.



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  • The United States only has the most rudimentary economic safety net and a patchwork of school districts with different standards and curricula. Poverty is rife, especially in the South, where reliance on government assistance (such as it is) has paradoxically become a way of life for many. Library school did not prepare me for the increasing levels of dysfunction and anger that I was to encounter in our patrons. (I now work in administration away from the public – after more than two decades in customer service even before getting my Master’s, I have had enough. I am a librarian as a consultant now.) There is a reason why the second generation after the first waves of successful and motivated new immigrants turn to gangs – I never thought I’d see it with the Hmong or Somalis, but it has happened.

    Life is hard work in America. I make less now than I did before I earned my Master’s. We just saw a friend end up in the hospital, and he does not have insurance – physical therapy is going to cost him dearly. (However, it is close to the open enrollment period for ACA, so perhaps he can get relief.) It’s nuts, and not sustainable. In a breeding ground like this, of course religion thrives.



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  • After contacting the mayor’s office to offer my free thinking perspective on ways the mayor can better embrace all citizens over which he governs, I received a response, posted below. I have found his office to be very responsive to email, even if completely non-sensical.

    Though embarrased to have been raised in the city of Warren, I am committed to continuing a dialogue with his office, hoping that reason will prevail. Mr. Fouts previously taught American government courses at a local high school in the city of Warren, a fact that carries too much irony to ignore. I am unaware whether he still teaches, but a reminder of the fundamental separation between church and state is obviously in order. Please assist in providing this reminder to Mayor Fouts at the following contact information: mayor@cityofwarren.org



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  • Mayor

    4:16 PM (34 minutes ago)

    to me
    Here is an article written on The Huffington Post regarding this issue –

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/24/jim-fouts-atheist-lawsuit_n_5617761.html

    Sincerely,

    The Office of Mayor James R. Fouts
    City of Warren
    One City Square- Suite 215
    Warren, MI 48093-6726
    586-574-4520
    mayor@cityofwarren.org
    http://www.cityofwarren.org

    AM

    From: John
    Sent: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 12:22 PM
    To: Mayor
    Subject: Re: Reason Station request

    Hello,

    “The city has certain values that I don’t believe are in general agreement with having an atheist station, nor in general agreement with having a Nazi station or Ku Klux Klan station,” Fouts told the Associated Presshttp://www.chron.com/news/article/Suit-seeks-to-allow-atheist-booth-in-City-Hall-5641663.php on Wednesday. “I cannot accept or will not allow a group that is disparaging of another group to have a station here.”

    Perhaps this quote is not properly attributed to Mayor Fouts. If this is an inaccurate quote, please advise.

    Regards,

    John

    On Wed, Oct 8, 2014 at 11:20 AM, Mayor <mayor@cityofwarren.orgmayor@cityofwarren.org> wrote:
    Good morning John,

    Your email has been received by the Mayor’s Office. Thank you for taking the time to write to us. Mayor Fouts did not compare atheists to Nazi’s and he recognizes the rights of everyone. Your email will be given to the Mayor.

    Sincerely,

    The Office of Mayor James R. Fouts
    City of Warren
    One City Square- Suite 215
    Warren, MI 48093-6726
    586-574-4520
    mayor@cityofwarren.orgmayor@cityofwarren.org
    http://www.cityofwarren.orghttp://www.cityofwarren.org

    AM

    From: John
    Sent: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 10:39 AM
    To: Mayor
    Subject: Re: Reason Station request

    Mr. Fouts,

    I was displeased to recently read of your comparison of atheists/atheism to the KKK and Nazi’s. I grew up in Warren, and lived there for 25 years before moving my family to Grosse Pointe Farms. I am disheartened to see the city of Warren cast in a light of such intolerance and ignorance. It is truly embarrassing. I hope you would agree that city government should be a place for freedom of thought and inquiry. If you’ve publicly apologized, I am glad to hear it. If not, you should, because your statement is really offensive and displays a large amount of ignorance.

    I am happy to work with you to proactively work to give all citizens an opportunity to participate in their own self-government. I’m not sure if a prayer station or a reason station is a good idea or not, but that’s not my concern. If you can benefit from a conversation with a level headed free thinker, I am at your disposal. I harbor no ill will, and simply would like to see the city and it’s reputation stay great. I am here to help! If I can give you a glimpse into the mind of a rational, kind, honest unbeliever, I hope it will open your eyes to the goodness we do in our community on a daily basis, and keep you from repeating the intolerance and bigotry you displayed with your statements.

    Best Regards,

    John



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  • Good job, John. A disappointing answer from the mayor’s office, employing public relationsese. Obviously the mayor also missed the point about portraying atheists as “being disparaging,” whereas other religions, making sectarian religious claims, are unfairly not seen as likewise being “disparaging” either toward atheists or toward other religions. And what is “disparaging” about reason? It’s going to take some repeating before they get it.



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  • Hi Kristine,

    I’m sorry to hear about your friend. I don’t know anyone personally in the US that doesn’t have to worry about the price of medical care should they need treatment for anything, and most of them would be insured.

    As for our situation being a breeding ground for religion I think it’s been established that we’re something of an oddity, being both relatively well off and religious. It has certainly been my experience that religiosity is ubiquitous.



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  • Thank you. Our friend had a double aneurysm and a stroke, but he is moving and speaking now.

    He complained incessantly of being thirsty, but cannot have liquid because he cannot swallow, and there was his mother at his bedside: “Think of how Jesus suffered on the Cross! Give it to God, and blah, blah, yakkity-yak.” Cringe.



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  • As I understand it, it’s not even necessarily an ‘atheist station’ . It’s about reason.
    I’m not sure how one would go about ‘preaching’ atheism 🙂
    I guess you might have debates, group discussions, lectures on various interesting topics, etc…

    Rather than ‘promote conflict and controversy’ , I think it would do exactly the opposite : by having discussions and debates, you get used to the fact that people have different (and changing) views, rather than believe that there is one true doctrine and everyone else is wrong.



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  • I’m not sure how one would go about ‘preaching’ atheism

    I imagine most of it would consist of debunking theist arguments and correcting misconceptions that give rise to theistic beliefs. In practice, it would be mostly about publicising anti-theism (and probably anti-religious views too).



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