God Now Owns a Town in Alabama. Will He Fix All the Potholes?

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As reported by The Raw Story and Friendly Atheist, the mayor of Winfield, Alabama, and the Winfield City Council have declared the town a “City Under God,” with full acknowledgement of the Supreme Being as “owner.”

An editorial published in the Journal Record (Marion County) laid out the following position:

Mind you, some of other religions—or no religions—might fuss, but if our coins can say, “In God We Trust,” we see no harm in acknowledging the Almighty at Christmas. We think that the whole fuss about cleaning God from the spector of public service has been much ado about nothing.

The paper went on to say, “This resolution may not change the city, either, but it will not hurt.” But is that true?

Certainly not—in fact, this seemingly innocuous action will be harmful in more ways than the editorial team at the Journal Record may realize. Winfield’s population is small (4,617 residents in 2013), but I’ll bet that not every resident believes the town is “under God,” and I hope they will stand up for their rights and the rights of countless others that may be too afraid to disagree.

Some members of the American Humanist Association considered our first state-level lawsuit challenging “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance as unnecessary. They argued that “under God” was harmless ceremonial deism and that there were much bigger battles to fight.

But when “under God” is regularly touted in the media—even used as a legal argument in the courts—to strengthen the claim that the United States is a “Christian nation,” is it really harmless? Not to millions of nonbelievers who are reminded of their lack of patriotism and unequal status simply because they happen to not believe in a god, and certainly not to church-state separation supporters—religious and nonreligious alike—who will continue to see religion endorsed by our government in other ways.

My hope for the believers in Winfield is that they will take advantage of their newly appointed leader. Who knows, if they push hard enough maybe God will take the role seriously and reduce taxes, improve the schools, and fix all the potholes.