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Piney

Atheists Sue to Stop Animal Blessings.

33 posts in this topic

I don't think it's hurting the animals and people need to stop wasting the courts' time.

 

http://www.nj.com/bergen/index.ssf/2017/11/atheists_sue_to_halt_annual_blessing_of_the_animals_at_shelter.html#incart_most-commented_south

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This doesn't hurt the animals, so why make a big deal out of it? I smell something political in all this...and I think it needs to stop.

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What needs to stop is conducting religious services in government buildings with government staff (also known as, 'obey the Constitution').  Lots of people understand this as soon as a Muslim or Satanist conducts these kind of services.

Besides it's utterly redundant and serves no purpose, as noted by the AA attorney:

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"Not only were the shelter's actions unconstitutional, they were completely unnecessary," said Geoffrey T. Blackwell, staff attorney for American Atheists. "I thought it was well-settled that all dogs already go to heaven."

 

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General blessings/prayers (or allowing various faiths to bless) is not currently found to be unconstitutional (probably why the Atheists are trying to push this issue into court).

 See link here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_church_and_state_in_the_United_States#The_.22Separation.22_principle_and_the_Supreme_Court

In what will be the case is Town of Greece v. Galloway, 12-696, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case regarding whether prayers at town meetings, which are allowed, must allow various faiths to lead prayer, or whether the prayers can be predominately Christian.[52] On May 5, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the Town of Greece by holding that the U.S. Constitution not only allows for prayer at government meetings, but also for sectarian prayers like predominately Christian prayers.

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57 minutes ago, Liquid Gardens said:

What needs to stop is conducting religious services in government buildings with government staff (also known as, 'obey the Constitution').  Lots of people understand this as soon as a Muslim or Satanist conducts these kind of services.

Besides it's utterly redundant and serves no purpose, as noted by the AA attorney:

 

Yeah, a Muslim's really gonna bless some stray dogs. 

I agree, though, that at least all dogs should go to heaven. 

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This is truly a stupid thing to take to court.

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Just now, ChaosRose said:

This is truly a stupid thing to take to court.

.....and a waste of time and money.

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And where's the victim of discrimination here?

Did the taxpayer cough up any money for this? No. Not until the atheists decided to sue. 

 

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15 minutes ago, ChaosRose said:

And where's the victim of discrimination here?

I think it is more of an Establishment Clause issue.

16 minutes ago, ChaosRose said:

Did the taxpayer cough up any money for this?

Yes, it is a county shelter, taxpayers are partly paying the shelter employee's wages.

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What a bunch of ignorant idiots .......   :(   This is what happens when people have too much time, too much money and too little brains.  

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41 minutes ago, Piney said:

.....and a waste of time and money.

If they win, it will be the town's money and that's part of the M.O.  Making municipalities fear the financial costs of standing up for something their citizens may want can have the same effect as winning a larger court decision.  Down here, we have an annual "blessing of the fleet" (area Shrimp fishermen) that is a festive event each spring.  I don't attend but I certainly don't get bent over it.  Whatever happened to live and let live?

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4 minutes ago, and then said:

If they win, it will be the town's money and that's part of the M.O.  Making municipalities fear the financial costs of standing up for something their citizens may want can have the same effect as winning a larger court decision.  Down here, we have an annual "blessing of the fleet" (area Shrimp fishermen) that is a festive event each spring.  I don't attend but I certainly don't get bent over it.  Whatever happened to live and let live?

Exactly.  There's no harm!

Mind, they seem to want to ban Father Christmas (aka Santa Claus) as well.  Bl**dy puritans!  Watch out - they'll be having all women covered head to foot at all times next, lest the men get un-ungodly urges .....     May their yule log be damp, and their cider be sour!

( I can see know why some think atheism is a religion - it's because of bigots like this)
 

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Lawyers have a lovely Latin phrase, Damnum absque injuria

Literally, "a wrong without an injury."  What it means? Don't waste anybody else's time with personal fantasies about what an ideal world would look like.

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2 minutes ago, eight bits said:

Literally, "a wrong without an injury."  What it means? Don't waste anybody else's time with personal fantasies about what an ideal world would look like.

Hmmm, do Constitutional claims require an 'injury'?  Isn't using tax dollars for unconstitutional activities an 'injury' to taxpayers?

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I doubt very much they pay for the blessing. Religious practices funded by the gov is not the same as someone donating time. The constitution prohibits the government from instigating the practice. This is no different than the President praying at Arlington cemetery. The visit is state sanctioned but the prayer is optional as has been seen in the recent past. Besides if you are an atheist why would you care?

I think people like these are former believers with chip on their shoulder against any beliefs at all just to justify their own current position. They doth protest too much. I am an agnostic myself and I fail to see any harm in this and definitely nothing to waste tax dollars fighting. JMHO 

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6 hours ago, Lilly said:

This doesn't hurt the animals, so why make a big deal out of it? I smell something political in all this...and I think it needs to stop.

Yep.  It is a stupid suit. 

 

 

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Liquid Gardens

Some county employees, whose job it is to show animals to visitors, showed some animals to a visitor. He blessed them.  

Which of the founders do you imagine is rolling over in his grave about this?

Seriously, LG, this makes putting a doll in a Christmas manger on the town hall lawn look serious. Yes, I get it, you think that that is serious. Thank God the courts came to their senses and now require towns to put Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer statues nearby. The Republic is safe again.

Lawyers have another maxim, the law doesn't deal with trifles. This, my brother, is what a trifle looks like.

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12 hours ago, Liquid Gardens said:

I think it is more of an Establishment Clause issue.

Yes, it is a county shelter, taxpayers are partly paying the shelter employee's wages.

But no one is paying the Franciscans who come and do this for free.

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Is anyone really gonna defend spending taxpayer dollars to sue over free blessings for stray dogs at an animal shelter? 

If anyone is really gonna defend that, then they need their head examined.

 

Edited by ChaosRose
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11 hours ago, Liquid Gardens said:

Hmmm, do Constitutional claims require an 'injury'?  Isn't using tax dollars for unconstitutional activities an 'injury' to taxpayers?

But they didn't use any tax dollars to pay for the blessings. It was free...

until the atheists decided to sue. 

Now it will cost taxpayers money for people to hash this ridiculous thing out in court.

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7 hours ago, eight bits said:

Liquid Gardens

Some county employees, whose job it is to show animals to visitors, showed some animals to a visitor. He blessed them.  

Which of the founders do you imagine is rolling over in his grave about this?

None of them I'd imagine.  But you didn't answer either of my legal questions, if you happen to know.

7 hours ago, eight bits said:

Yes, I get it, you think that that is serious.

Objection Your Honor: Counsel is not a mind reader.  It's not serious, it's stupid; it's stupid and petty for the atheists to sue over and it's stupid for a county shelter to establish an annual event for blessing of the animals.  Again, when do the Satanists get a turn, does it start to become less of a trifle if they want to and are refused, isn't there the potential for this to get more needlessly expensive?  It's not about whether their objection is right or wrong, it's that it should be pretty obvious that there's going to be an objection at some point; courts don't dismiss suits on the grounds of de minimis for free.  And with 'trifles' like this and manger scene objections, etc, there are almost always extremely easy, and better, solutions.

If he was just dropping by occasionally to bless the animals at the shelter I think they'd be less vulnerable, establishing and promoting it as a periodic event starts to get a little more religious-servicey and is just advertising what's going on to oversensitive people.  I think it would be better for them to have a pet adoption event or something at a church after services, that at least agrees with the actual purpose of the shelter unlike this event.

And just how close does a reverend need to be to animals in order to bless them anyway?

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LG

Apologies. I didn't realize that both of your questions were seeking information from me.

I don't know the answer to your first question, whether all Constitutional claims require "injury." The plaintiff does need standing to bring the action, and the nature of the complaint has to be "justiciable," in the sense of being something the court can actually do something about, can provide a remedy.

What is the remedy here? The same individual (the priest) has a protected right to visit other county facilities where another species is confined, such as jails, police lock-ups and houses of corrections. He is entitled to wish those inmates well (which is what a blessing is), and may give voice to his good wishes. Based on the pictures that accompany the article, I don't see any legally grounded objection to his choice of clothing, however upsetting it supposedly was to an antitheist seeking a dog, based upon her special expertise about "Fransiscan" clothing.

As to your second question, I did answer it. The taxpayers hired some workers to do a job, they did that job, and are not responsible for the peaceful conduct of a visitor, which was itself protected religious expression. The taxpayers now owe the workers their wages, the same wages regardless of what any particular visitor did or didn't do. There is no taxpayer injury among the facts related in the article.

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Again, when do the Satanists get a turn, does it start to become less of a trifle if they want to and are refused,

Would they refuse the Satanists? What has that to do with the complaint in this case?

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courts don't dismiss suits on the grounds of de minimis for free.

The courts can assess the costs on the parties. If I brought a suit and it's dismissed (as a suit may be for its de minimis character), then it is entirely possible that I pay all costs, mine, the court's and the county's.

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promoting it

Actually, I'd say that promoting animal welfare and raising public awareness that animals are available for adoption would be part of the county employee's job. There was a nice human interest story here, IMO, furthering the mission of the agency. Secular purpose exists.

Quote

And just how close does a reverend need to be to animals in order to bless them anyway?

Don't know. But since you like hypotheticals, suppose some local celebrity - a TV weather forecaster, say - wants to see the animals, say hello to them face to face, giving the staff a photo op and the right to distribute his or her likeness gratis in support of their agency's objectives.

I think that's constitutional. What is the constitutional basis for excluding a clergy member from doing what others would be allowed to do without objection?

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I wish everybody would just leave everybody's non existent souls alone ...

~

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8 hours ago, eight bits said:

The plaintiff does need standing to bring the action, and the nature of the complaint has to be "justiciable," in the sense of being something the court can actually do something about, can provide a remedy.

I've always wondered about the implications of 'standing'; does it mean that if a community has prayers in their public schools and no one complains about it, there's nothing the law can do?

8 hours ago, eight bits said:

What is the remedy here? The same individual (the priest) has a protected right to visit other county facilities where another species is confined, such as jails, police lock-ups and houses of corrections.

Actually that seems to be debatable, or at least dependent on where you live:

http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2016/09/01/mdoc-policy-change-only-immediate-family-can-visit-inmates/89718916/

Quote

"The recent change in the visitation policy was prompted by security violations that are being investigated," said Grace Fisher, a spokeswoman for MDOC. "Upon completion of the investigation, we will consider re-evaluating the policy. Visitation this weekend will not be affected."

According to the memo, only "immediate family" can visit an inmate, including a spouse, children, stepchildren raised prior to age 12, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, grandchildren or documented surrogate parents.

"This excludes ALL pastors, friends, girlfriends, fiancés, cousins, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, in-laws and anyone else who is not listed above," the memo says.

The remedy is easy; don't organize and promote events in govt buildings with govt employees around religious blessings.  This event was an hour and a half and the word 'adoption' is not mentioned at least on the fb page for it.

9 hours ago, eight bits said:

He is entitled to wish those inmates well (which is what a blessing is).

I disagree.  "Hope you have a great day 8!, is not a 'blessing', it's wishing you well.  If they were to advertise a 'Blessing of the Animals' and all that was done is the mayor went around and wished the animals well, I'm feeling pretty secure that most people are going to wonder why this was referred to as a 'blessing', given it's predominate connection to religion and prayers.

9 hours ago, eight bits said:

Would they refuse the Satanists? What has that to do with the complaint in this case?

If they refuse the Satanists then isn't it viewpoint discrimination/favoring one religion over another?  Does the shelter want to be forced to allow a 'Damning of the Animals', since there is no difference to the animals themselves what us crazy humans are babbling about, they're in it and are benefiting from the attention?  Is the evaluation of what constitutes a 'trifle' done with no regard to the heckler's veto, is it more than a trifle based on how many people make a stink about it?

9 hours ago, eight bits said:

The courts can assess the costs on the parties.

Cool, then I guess the other comments here concerned about legal costs may be misguided.

9 hours ago, eight bits said:

But since you like hypotheticals,

I do and on Constitutional matters, considering how often they are brought up by justices in oral arguments, I'm in good company.

9 hours ago, eight bits said:

suppose some local celebrity - a TV weather forecaster, say - wants to see the animals, say hello to them face to face, giving the staff a photo op and the right to distribute his or her likeness gratis in support of their agency's objectives.

I think that's constitutional. What is the constitutional basis for excluding a clergy member from doing what others would be allowed to do without objection?

Your hypothetical is missing the key constitutional component; where is the religious blessing?  What constitutional issue could this run afoul of?

There's a purely pragmatic side to this also, and I can't really find anything definitive on what taxpayers rights are with regards to these kind of govt buildings. Can I go demand access to the water department facilities since I'm a taxpayer?  The purpose of shelters is not to provide a place where people can go just visit animals, that is instead a tactic used to achieve one of the shelter's actual goals: increased animal adoption.  Suppose a neighbor of the shelter likes to visit the animals and comes every day, requiring a staff employee to spend time managing that visitation.  Does the shelter ever get to say no?  I do like this idea and am all for allocating increased funding for additional staff if needed to support these kind of activities, I personally in a lot of cases have more sympathy for shelter animals than some humans.  But most city coffers are not overflowing with extra cash.  Do they have to allow the KKK or NAMBLA to organize events at the shelter if they're going to allow blessings?  I don't know, but it sure looks messy.

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