(Photo: Garret Ellison / MLive Media Group)
A Michigan city official has denounced the efforts of an atheist organization that have demanded that his city change its logo over church-state concerns.
City of Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt posted a blog entry on the city's website expressing his opposition to the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation's threat of a lawsuit over the city seal.
The City of Wyoming's logo features a green background with four gray images: a house, a factory, a golf course, and a church. The FFRF have declared that the church image is "unconstitutional."
"In no way does this logo indicate any requirement or mandate of religion, just as it doesn't require our residents hold a factory job, own a house or be golfers," wrote Holt on Thursday.
"It is merely a representation of the many things you find and associate with our community. I hear people say quite often the City of Wyoming has a church on every corner."
In his blog post, Holt also denounced the approach FFRF has gone about in protesting the logo, comparing their efforts to that of some groups regarding "dog ordinances" in the City of Wyoming.
"People appeared at the Council meeting and claimed they were residents of Wyoming; we were later notified that they were not citizens, but people who follow this issue nationwide," wrote Holt. "In the end they really had no interest in the City of Wyoming, and promoted themselves in a fashion very similar to the FFRF."
On July 20, the Freedom From Religion Foundation faxed a letter to the City of Wyoming demanding that the city change its logo, which was adopted in 1959 when the city became incorporated.
FFRF staff attorney Patrick Elliot, author of the letter, wrote that the city should "immediately discontinue using this seal and adopt a new representation of the city that is inclusive of all of your citizens."
"Any claims of historical or cultural significance to the church and Latin cross on the city seal do not relieve the city of its constitutional obligations," wrote Elliot. "The city must not endorse religion. The city may not depict the church and cross because to do so places the city imprimatur behind Christianity. This excludes non-Christians and violates the Constitution."
City of Wyoming attorney Jack Sluiter told the news website MLive.com that the city was still weighing its options regarding the threatened lawsuit.
Holt wrote in his blog post that should the City of Wyoming be brought to court, the amount of support the city had received would help with the effort.
"I appreciate the outpouring of support the City has received on this issue from our residents," wrote Holt, adding that the feedback given to city officials was overwhelmingly positive. "With the resources that have been brought to our attention, I am reasonably assured that the City of Wyoming won't have to expend precious and limited tax dollars defending such an unnecessary lawsuit."