City Hall gives no thought to freethought
The Kevin Johnson administration is “not comfortable” with a longstanding City Hall tradition of recognizing Freethought Day, an annual celebration of the separation of church and state.
Freethought Day commemorates the day in October of 1692, when Massachusetts Gov. William Phips declared that “spectral evidence” was no longer allowed in court proceedings. That pretty much ended the Salem witch trials, and helped lay the groundwork for the separation of church and state.
And that’s why local atheists, freethinkers and humanists celebrated Freethought Day on Sunday, October 11, at Cesar Chavez Plaza, across from City Hall. Similar celebrations were held around the country on the same day.
Mayor Heather Fargo had issued a proclamation declaring Freethought Day every year, for five years, without any controversy.
But this year when Beverly Church, organizer of the local Freethought Day committee, asked new Mayor Kevin Johnson’s staff for a similar proclamation, she was told it was a no-go. Something about wanting to remain “neutral,” and that the mayor (or maybe just the mayor’s staff) was “not comfortable” with declaring that Sunday Freethought Day.
The mayor is said to be a pretty religious guy, but that doesn’t seem like a good reason to stiff those people who don’t have invisible sky friends.
Said Church: “I’m really kind of surprised. This isn’t religion bashing. It’s a celebration of the separation of church and state, which is in our constitution.”
Luckily, freethinkers really don’t need the mayor’s support, and Freethought Day went forward without his proclamation. But it makes you wonder just what message the mayor is trying to send here, or if anybody gave it any, you know, thought, at all. Maybe spectral evidence is making a comeback in Sacramento.