Tuesday, December 5, 2023

501(c)(3) Metroplex Atheists sues Ft. Worth for First Amendment Violations

From Metroplex Atheists' website

If the allegations are true, the City of Fort Worth and maybe some of its administrators are gonna be liable to the Metroplex Atheists, a 501(c)(3) out in Texas that wanted to display banners downtown. The City allows nonprofits to display banners and this particular banner would have announced an upcoming conference on the separation of church and state.  The advertised event seemed like it was going to be a serious discussion, with pastors, professors, and policy makers.  But after city workers approved the posting of banners, somebody asked the elected folk about it – the City Manager who kicked it to the City Council.  They denied the request, stating that there was a moratorium on banner displays until the policy could be reviewed.  The complaint describes an earlier approved banner display and how it generated vocal opposition from people opposed to atheism.  Back then, city officials explained that the city could not discriminate in its limited public forum.  This time, the City gave Metroplex Atheists the proverbial runaround until the City finally just stopped responding to Metroplex, saying it has completed its review.  So now, it’s a federal case and the city is gonna waste money losing it.  Here is the City’s “suspended” policy.  Read the complaint here.  Here is the City’s “suspended” policy: 

A non/not-for-profit organization (hereinafter referred to as “Organization”) may request permission to place banners within the public ROW [right of way] for the purpose of promoting the Organization or a special event and/or exhibit held by the Organization. If promoting an event/exhibit, it must be held in Fort Worth and be open to the public, or of common interest to the general community, or recognize and/or contribute to the cultural fabric of the City. Such events/exhibits may include (but are not limited to): an arts, entertainment, or education related activity; a public social occasion; a sports contest; or a public concert.

 darryll k. jones 


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