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Loomis Potential Church/State Violation Event

The Town of Loomis has partnered with a local church to use public property to host a potentially Christian-themed holiday event.

The event is being promoted by the Town as an official event, according to reminders at recent Town Council meetings, on their meeting agendas, and in the local paper.

In addition to the lighting of an official city tree, a "non-religious" puppet show is scheduled, run by members of the church. Prior to complaints, the event was called "Christmas in Loomis" and featured a live manger scene.

From their most current description: "... Free hay rides, ornament making, face painting, hot apple cider, cookies and popcorn will be available. Entertainment includes a puppet show, dancers, children’s choir, live music and caroling. For more information, call town hall at 652-7939."

History

One of our members in Loomis became aware of this event while attending a meeting. She addressed her concerns (of potential Establishment Clause violations) with the city attorney who agreed this might be crossing the line.

Within days, the puppet show was redescribed as "non-religious" and a number of church supporters from the community voiced their displeasure at a recent city council meeting. "Christmas" was removed from the title of the event, and the "live manger scene" is no longer in the description.

What You Can Do

While on paper, this event doesn't violate any law, we need to be there and make sure they keep the event secular.

Freethinkers in the Loomis area (including Rocklin and Roseville and from all over Sacramento) are encouraged to attend this event to be witness to whatever might unfold. If you can, bring a video camera.

If you happen to spot any news articles or promotional information about this event, please post or link to it here for everyone to see. Capture everything in case this goes to court.

Other Details

More details will be posted as we learn more, including the start time of the event, a program, and potential dining options for those who attend. RSVP and stay tuned.

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  • David D.

    The constitution was upheld!

    1 · December 2, 2012

  • Judy S.

    Janet, our amazing role model in Loomis, paved the pioneer trail for us to make our secular presence known! Loomis backed away from their intended religious events. Way to lead, Janet!

    1 · December 1, 2012

  • Janet T

    When I arrived at 4, there was a new program printed with no puppet show, so I can only think that the knowledge we'd be there (I'd told the attorneys we'd be monitoring with a video camera) had made the difference. We stayed for a while and then headed off to a very nice dinner.
    I feel we struck a blow for the Constitution tonight, and I am abundantly grateful to David, Judy, Kathy, and Dale for showing up and standing with me. Anyone who thinks atheists aren't kind people needs to meet y'all. Thank you.

    2 · December 1, 2012

  • David D.

    Hi everyone! We've left the Train Station and are around the corner at the Green Elephant, a lovely sushi place. Come join us!

    The Town of Loomis did the right thing, thanks to the work of one of our members. They dropped the Christian puppet show from the program, and it was an all-around secular event.

    December 1, 2012

  • Marcus M.

    I can't attend due to an 80th birthday celebration for my after. But, has anyone contacted the local ACLU and/or AMericans United for Separation of Church & State? They should be working with us as well...

    December 1, 2012

  • Janet T

    So you can find me, I'll be wearing a diamond star pin, representing that glorious star in the east. :)

    December 1, 2012

    • Judy S.

      Good one, Janet. I don't think I'll wear my bright Atheist shirt, but probably my "Question Everything" dark blue t-shirt and white windbreaker. My partner, Kathy, will probably wear her "Keep Your Religion Out Of My Government" sweatshirt. Come say hi.

      December 1, 2012

  • Janet T

    70% chance of rain here today, possibly heavy tonight. Why they didn't just cancel this is a mystery. All I can find is that there may be an abbreviated schedule due to rain. I'm guessing they'll just move everything but the tree inside the depot , so it's likely the puppet show will go on. It's not a big room, so I'm skeptical they can make this work. If I don't post otherwise, I'll be there at 4.
    Dinner suggestion afterward - Green Elephant, on King, just a few blocks from the depot. Nice local family...Thai and Vietnamese influences. I'll make sure they'll be open.

    December 1, 2012

  • Janet T

    Still no change announced because of weather. I did find new posters printed (still 4-7 with no set program times) with the manger scene removed but the Christian puppet show still there - "A Star to Follow" by the Community Covenant Church. . Why the town lawyer finds this acceptable but not the manger scene is an utter mindblower. I suggest emailing everyone on the list and POLITELY asking that they not violate the constitution by giving a religious show on public property. Say there will be people there videotaping for possible legal action, and you don't want them caught in the crossfire. Or think up your own friendly message. Note that their office is closed Fri and Sat, so the only contact is by email.
    http://rocklincov.org/contact/

    November 29, 2012

    • Janet T

      Yikes. You may be right. Who knows with religious folk?

      December 1, 2012

    • Judy S.

      Yes, I wish we could let them know we're not in opposition to their faith at all. We're just trying to get people to obey the law. I still don't think they'd pay attention even if we spelled it out. They do have an obligation to rally their base, and that means raising alarm, fear and hatred of whatever out-group they can. Words don't seem to work, do they? OK, it's off to court, then. ... Still waiting to hear if it's postponed or not.

      1 · December 1, 2012

  • Janet T

    I'm guessing they will postpone the tree lighting until the following weekend because of rain. I'll keep you posted.

    November 28, 2012

    • Rich W.

      That would be better for me- I'm running the marathon Sunday, and would prefer to have a quiet Saturday at home. Next week I'm more likely to make it with the family and have fun :-)

      November 28, 2012

  • Janet T

    Still need a video camera...

    November 23, 2012

  • Wendy

    Not likely I will make it up there to attend in person, but let us know what we folks "down here" can do to support: letters to the City Council? To the Sacramento Bee and other area media?

    1 · November 17, 2012

    • Judy S.

      It's always good to phone the City and have them document your call of concern about keeping church and state separate, ask that your comments be handed up the chain. The more we speak up (politely in this case) the better. I can hear them, "My gosh, we got all these phone calls worried about a religious event on gov property. We'll have to be careful in the future." A letter to the Loomis News and Sac Bee would be more powerful after the event, either in praise of keeping it secular or bothered if they didn't.

      1 · November 20, 2012

    • Janet T

      POLITE is the operative word. If you do call, simply ask if there will be any overtly Christian parts to this tree lighting on public property. Express hope that it will remain secular so as not to run afoul of our constitution. 'Nuff said.

      1 · November 20, 2012

  • Janet T

    I repeat, this is NOT a demonstration or a chance to poke a stick in the eyes of Christians. We're merely citizens looking out for our constitution. If the event proceeds without overtly religious features, we simply eat cookies and drink cider like everyone else. If we do see something overtly Christian, we videotape. No confrontations! If you're looking to antagonize people, please don't come to our town to do it. I live here, I'm a Planning Commissioner, and I don't want to create more bad blood with my neighbors. I'm quite sure my name has already been passed around the Mormon food chain.
    Thank you for understanding.

    2 · November 20, 2012

  • Judy S.

    I'll be wearing my bright blue Ask an Atheist t-shirt, Kathy will be wearing her "Keep your religion out of my government" t-shirt.

    1 · November 20, 2012

  • Janet T

    I fear this may be veering off into an unwanted direction. This won't be a protest, or a chance to needle the religious. We're simply citizens enjoying the event and ensuring that staff is indeed honoring the establishment clause. I fully expect the lawyers have, by now, made things very clear. If the puppet show is non-religious, and there's no manger scene, and no one puts a cross on the tree, all is good. We're silent observers, videotaping only if things start to look dicey. Then we go to dinner and diss religion freely.

    2 · November 19, 2012

  • GaryA

    December 1st is the first day of Krampus Week, maybe we should show up as Krampus. They have to respect our religious traditions too!
    http://www.krampus.com/who-is-krampus.php

    November 19, 2012

  • David D.

    Found this (scroll down a bit):

    http://www.theloomisnews.com/article/loomis-basin-events-week-november-15-2012

    Looks like it might be from 4-7pm.

    November 18, 2012

    • Janet T

      They never last three hours, so I'm waiting for a more definitive schedule.

      November 18, 2012

    • GaryA

      Still gives us a number to call and complain.

      November 19, 2012

  • Rich W.

    I'll try to make it. I've personally been wondering about Rocklin's annual Celebrate America. It's pretty over the top evangelical, but would probably be legal so long as the city isn't paying for any costs. In slightly related news, Rocklin City Council has decided to start charging all groups for facilities access, even the boy scouts.

    November 17, 2012

    • David D.

      Rich, you should contact the city and ask them about that event.

      1 · November 18, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'd like to go. This stuff seriously annoys me.

    2 · November 18, 2012

  • doug

    This is alarming and irrational that they have decided to go forward with the puppet show. Maybe my kid and I will use this for a Saturday field trip. The GOOD NEWS club has avoided my daughter's school so I have lucked out on that.

    2 · November 17, 2012

  • Janet T

    Thank you so much for setting this up, David! I was afraid I'd be all alone on this one. I don't have a video camera, so that will be especially crucial.
    I'll follow up with more details as new posters are printed up by staff. Let's plan on going out for dinner afterwards. There's a nice little Vietnamese/Thai restaurant just a few blocks away, run by very nice locals.

    November 16, 2012

5 went

  • David D.
    Co-Organizer,
    Event Host
  • Janet T
    Event Host
  • Judy S. +1
    Assistant Organizer
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member

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