Tucson’s “free thinkers” think that a “natural rock pit on the side of a road filled with recent worthless religious bric-a-brac does not qualify as historically significant” and that “allowing a permanent religious shrine that serves no other secular purpose, Tucson is endorsing religion and violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”
To each his own say others, and “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
Atheists have filed a complaint regarding a shrine on Tucson’s ‘A’ Mountain. The mountain, which looms over the spot where Father Kino was purportedly first sighted by the first residents of the region, has been considered a sacred place by Tucsonans of many faiths and cultures.
Atheists say the small shrines are religious displays with “no secular purpose on government land,” and they want them gone.
According to Don Lacey, state director for American Atheists, the FFRF (Freedom from Religion Foundation) “received the complaint from a Tucson citizen and sent a letter to the Tucson City Manager by fax and by U.S. Mail. The letter is clear, concise, and lays out in detail why the shrine must be removed. The letter also cites four individual federal court cases in which similar displays were deemed unconstitutional and forced to be removed.”
Lacey claims that the shrine serves “no useful purpose to use city resources to defend a pile of religious icons. If requested, members of the Tucson freethinking community will gladly remove the debris for the city at no charge. There are a few members that regularly go on weekends to ‘A’ Mountain to clean up litter along the road already and removal of a few more bags of refuse would be no problem.”
Lacey said this case isn’t about bashing religion — it’s about respecting non-believers and the law. He then called it litter and a “pile of religious knick knacks.”
Lacey writes in a blog that the City officials who are refusing to order it removed need to “understand that a pile of statues, beads, pictures, and candles left in the desert isn’t simply respecting a group’s desire to express their faith as much as it is considered by some as LITTERING!”
Lacey claims that “the paramount consideration is that by allowing a permanent religious shrine that serves no other secular purpose, Tucson is endorsing religion and violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”
However, Tucson Councilman Steve Kozachik suggested that the person making the complaint should “find something more important to do.”
The “free thinkers” suggest that the City Of Tucson do what West Springfield, Massachusetts deputy director of operations do; he removed a statue of Mary without the case going to court.
For native Tucsonans, the shrines have as much cultural significance as religious.
Lacey couldn’t understand. According to his bio, he is a “Skeptic, Atheist, Humanist and FreeThinker. In January, 2000 after completing a 27 year career in the United States Air Force he joined the Tucson community and started working for Raytheon Missile Systems. He retired in March, 2008.”
A retired guy with no understanding of our community and apparently nothing better to do.