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Current Page: U.S. | Wednesday, February 28, 2018
City Removes Decades-Old Church Directory After Atheists Threaten Lawsuit

City Removes Decades-Old Church Directory After Atheists Threaten Lawsuit

The church directory sign at Coronado, California. In February of 2018, the mayor agreed to remove the sign due to complaints over only Christian churches being mentioned. | (Screenshot: YouTube/ABC 10 News)

A city in California is being pressured to remove a decades-old church directory sign in response to a threat of litigation from a Wisconsin-based atheist organization.

The city of Coronado agreed to remove the church directory sign located at Spreckels Park due to complaints from some locals and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

In a statement released earlier this month, Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey said the sign will be replaced with one that lists not only churches but also non-religious and non-Christian groups.

"This redesign will ensure our signage is informative and representative by incorporating our community's civic, social, faith-based and philanthropic organizations," said Mayor Bailey, as quoted by the Coronado Times.

"I understand this is a sensitive topic, however, a new directory/signage will be reinstalled after this project is complete and it will be inclusive of all organizations, including our faith-based ones."

The wooden sign had been displayed at the intersection of Orange Avenue and Sixth Street for decades, but the FFRF recently sent a letter to the city arguing that the directory "raises serious constitutional concerns under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment" because it only lists Christian houses of worship.

FFRF lawyer Liz Cavell said in a statement published by the San Diego Union Tribune on Tuesday that she supported the city's decision to remove the directory sign. "FFRF is thankful that the city of Coronado recognizes these constitutional concerns and is taking action to avoid the appearance of religious endorsement," said Cavell.

"We appreciate that the city's decision shows respect for all of its citizens — religious and nonreligious — by remaining neutral toward religion."

Charles LiMandri, head of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, had offered to help Coronado with any potential litigation.

In an interview with the Union Tribune, LiMandri explained that he believed taking down the directory "could be a violation by showing unwarranted hostility toward religion."

"I'm not sure at this point why they need to do anything," added LiMandri.

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