Photo: Patricia Beck
By Tresa Baldas
If a church can have a prayer station inside city hall, then an atheist can have a reason station there, too.
That’s what a federal judge concluded today in ordering the city of Warren to allow an atheist man to set up a so-called “reason station” in the atrium at city hall, similar to the one his religious counterparts have.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Hluchaniuk never mentioned the words “freedom of religion” or “separation of church and state” in his order, but rather focused on ensuring that believers and non-believers receive the same type of access to city hall.
“The reason station will be allowed to operate on terms not less favorable than the terms granted to the prayer station,” wrote Hluchaniuk, who also ordered the city of Warren to pay the ACLU $100,000 for costs and attorney fees.
The case involves Warren resident Douglas Marshall, who sued the city of Warren and Mayor James Fouts last summer after his request to set up a “reason station” inside city hall was denied. Fouts feared the atheist man’s table would discourage the practice of religion and create chaos in city hall, so he rejected his application for a station.
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