Letter following arrest on Tuesday, 10 September 2002 at the Novato (California) City Council meeting.

Editor; INVOCATIONS AS HATE CRIMES

Tolerance,diversity,and respect for civil rights for all citizens and residents have been trampled on by the Novato City Council's continued illegal promotion of Christian worship services at the beginning of their evening sessions. Ironically, the same Council doesn't seem to have prayers offered before they begin their 'closed to the public' late afternoon sessions - only when the TV camera is rolling. These so-called "invocations" are an insult and an affront to those of us who are atheists, to other nonreligious people, as well as all the rest who honor and respect the principle of separation of state and church. Novato's invocations violate several sections of the California constitution - Article I, Section 4, the no preference clause, and Article XVI, Section 5, the no government support of religion civil right. Novato's secret and apparently unwritten procedure for invocations makes the mayor the "Ayatollah of Orthodoxy" as to who can use the invocation time. Examination of available records show that the Council has always shut out non-believers from this exclusively biased and illegal portion of the Council's agendas. The Council and the mayor seem to be on such shaky ground that they will not even permit a proper, legitimate point of order to be raised in challenge their discriminatory behaviour. The mayor's abusive use of his police power to arrest and throttle dissent as happened to me on 10 September 2002 in the council chambers, leads me to believe that it will be the courts which remedy and put an end to the city's monsterous and unsupportable violations of our right to be free from goverment sponsored religious coercion and conformity. Novato's offical religious behaviour will not pass constitutional muster. Readers who would like to support this challenge to Novato's attack on our civil rights may contact me at:
P.O. Box 174
Glen Ellen, California 95442-0174

Sincerely, Irv Sutley