Freedom From Religion Foundation, Atheists United SLO sue city of Pismo Beach

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Freedom From Religion Foundation and Atheists United SLO sue city of Pismo Beach challenging prayers at City Council meetings and the city chaplaincy post.
     L    A   W     O    F   F   I   C   E   S   O   F    P    A   M   E   L   A    K    O   S   L   Y   N    6   2   5   5   S    U   N   S   E   T    B    O   U   L   E   V   A   R   D  ,   S    U   I   T   E    7   1   6   H    O   L   L   Y   W   O   O   D  ,   C    A   L   I   F   O   R   N   I   A    9   0   0   2   8   (   3   2   3   )   4   6   7  -   2   2   0   0 12345678910 111213141516171819202122232425262728 1C OMPLAINT Pamela Koslyn (State Bar # 120605)LAW OFFICES OF PAMELA KOSLYN6255 Sunset Blvd., Suite 716Hollywood, California 90028Telephone: (323) 467-2200 Fax: (323) 648-8222Email: pkoslyn@koslynlaw.comAttorneys for PLAINTIFFS FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION,& DR. SARI DWORKIN Superior Court of CaliforniaCounty of San Luis Obispo FREEDOM FROM RELIGIONFOUNDATION, a Wisconsin corporation;and DR. SARI DWORKIN, an individual,Plaintiffs, v. CITY OF PISMO BEACH, a municipalcorporation; PISMO BEACH CITYCOUNCIL, the governing body of the CITYOF PISMO BEACH; SHELLYHIGGINBOTHAM, an individual in her capacity of Pismo Beach Mayor; and PAULJONES, an individual in his capacity asPismo Beach City Chaplain; and DOES 1-100, inclusive,Defendants.Case No. PLAINTIFFS’ COMPLAINT FORCONSTITUTIONAL AND CIVIL CODEVIOLATIONS SEEKINGDECLARATORY RELIEF,INJUNCTIVE RELIEF, AND NOMINALDAMAGESINTRODUCTION 1.The Pismo Beach City Council (“Council”) begins each of its bi-monthlymeetings with an official Christian prayer. All but one of the 126 prayers given from January 1,2008, through October 15, 2013, were addressed to the Christian god, and all were directed atPismo Beach’s citizens. Christian clergymen delivered 123 of the 126 prayers: the City Chaplain,a Pentecostal clergyman, gave 112 prayers and other Christian clergymen gave 11 more. See Exhibit 1, pp. 1-135, copies of transcripts of those prayers.     L    A   W     O    F   F   I   C   E   S   O   F    P    A   M   E   L   A    K    O   S   L   Y   N    6   2   5   5   S    U   N   S   E   T    B    O   U   L   E   V   A   R   D  ,   S    U   I   T   E    7   1   6   H    O   L   L   Y   W   O   O   D  ,   C    A   L   I   F   O   R   N   I   A    9   0   0   2   8   (   3   2   3   )   4   6   7  -   2   2   0   0 12345678910 111213141516171819202122232425262728 2C OMPLAINT 2.The prayers advance and proselytize for Christianity. They distort and fabricate American history to further the appearance that our government endorses and supportsChristianity, and they disparage non-Christians by claiming that not living in accordance with theChristian god’s rule of law is sinful and wrong.3.The City established a Christian Chaplaincy and appointed Defendant PaulJones (“Chaplain Jones”) to that position eight years ago. When Chaplain Jones gives the prayers, he repeatedly cites the Christian bible and, with the imprimatur of a government office,declares that it is divinely authored. Since Jones was appointed City Chaplain, he has led thePledge of Allegiance at the City Council meetings immediately after the prayers even if he doesnot give the prayers ( see, e.g.,  Exhibit 1 at p. 134). Jones not only “Christianizes” United Stateshistory, but he exhorts Pismo Beach citizens to elect “righteous” leaders, and instructs thoseleaders to govern according to his god’s bible. This chaplaincy is a government office with solelyreligious functions, and this City Chaplain receives benefits at public expense. 4.The Council has publicly endorsed, and aligned itself with, a singlereligion, Christianity, by establishing this chaplaincy and sponsoring sectarian prayers that proselytize and advance Christianity, and disparage non-Christians. These prayers signal to non-Christians that they are outsiders at Council meetings, are unrepresented in their government,and are not full citizens.5.Plaintiffs seek a declaration that the prayers are unconstitutional, a permanent injunction against the prayers, and a declaration that the appointment of a CityChaplain is unconstitutional. Plaintiffs seek nominal damages, attorneys’ fees and costs. JURISDICTION AND VENUE 6.This action arises under Article I, § 4; Article XVI, § 5; Article XX, § 3 of the California Constitution; and Cal. Civ. Code § 52.1 (b).7.This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure,§§ 394, 410.10.8.This Court is the proper venue pursuant to California Code of Civil     L    A   W     O    F   F   I   C   E   S   O   F    P    A   M   E   L   A    K    O   S   L   Y   N    6   2   5   5   S    U   N   S   E   T    B    O   U   L   E   V   A   R   D  ,   S    U   I   T   E    7   1   6   H    O   L   L   Y   W   O   O   D  ,   C    A   L   I   F   O   R   N   I   A    9   0   0   2   8   (   3   2   3   )   4   6   7  -   2   2   0   0 12345678910 111213141516171819202122232425262728 3C OMPLAINT Procedure § 395. PARTIES 9.Plaintiff Freedom From Religion Foundation (“FFRF”) is a nationalnon-profit Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) educational charity and a Wisconsin non-stock corporation. FFRF defends the constitutional separation between state and church, and educatesthe public about the views of non-theists. FFRF has nearly 20,000 members nationwide,including more than 2,800 members in California. FFRF represents and advocates on behalf of its members throughout the United States.10.Plaintiff Sari Dworkin (“Dworkin”) is a citizen and taxpayer of PismoBeach and has resided there since 2000. Dworkin earned a Ph.D. (University of Nebraska,Lincoln) and also holds M.S. and B.A. degrees (Herbert H. Lehman College, NYC). She taughtgraduate level courses at the California State University, Fresno, and is now retired fromteaching but still practices as a licensed psychologist. Dr. Dworkin is a member of AtheistsUnited of San Luis Obispo (“AUSLO”), FFRF and the Congregation Beth David — a reformJewish congregation in San Luis Obispo. Dr. Dworkin identifies as an atheist Jew, and sheobjects to the Pismo Beach City Council’s prayers. Dr. Dworkin has attended several PismoBeach City Council meetings over the last 6 years, in conjunction with her involvement in land development issues in Pismo Beach, such as those involving Mike Hodges, 1 Price Canyon, and Spanish Springs, and has watched meetings online and read transcripts of meetings as well. Allthe meetings she attended, viewed, participated in, or read transcripts of, opened with sectarian prayer. Dr. Dworkin was very surprised at those prayers, which she interpreted as addressed tothe Christian God, to a Christian City Council as a religious body, and to only Christian citizensand Christian interests. She feels it unbelievable that such invocations exist in a country thatseparates church and state. She is still very interested in Pismo Beach land development issues,and intends to attend and view and read transcripts of the meetings in the future. The prayerscause her to feel offended, disenfranchised, and intimidated about participating in her owngovernment. While protesting these prayers at the public council meeting, Dr. Dworkin is forced      L    A   W     O    F   F   I   C   E   S   O   F    P    A   M   E   L   A    K    O   S   L   Y   N    6   2   5   5   S    U   N   S   E   T    B    O   U   L   E   V   A   R   D  ,   S    U   I   T   E    7   1   6   H    O   L   L   Y   W   O   O   D  ,   C    A   L   I   F   O   R   N   I   A    9   0   0   2   8   (   3   2   3   )   4   6   7  -   2   2   0   0 12345678910 111213141516171819202122232425262728 4C OMPLAINT  by the Council’s procedures to give her name and address, but after they had ignored her concerns , she felt vulnerable and uncomfortable, and had trepidation about attending any further meetings. Similarly, as a member of AUSLO, Dr. Dworkin often hosts parties at her home, and her affiliation with AUSLO as well as her name and home address are publicized in conjunctionwith these parties, so the City Council’s deliberate disregard for her atheism by continuing withits City Council meetings’ prayers and Christian chaplaincy, has made her feel ostracized and even physically unsafe.11.Other concerned citizens of the area who support Plaintiffs’ arguments inthis case include among others, David Leidner, Kurt Horner, Dorothy Ellis, Steve Arkowitz,Paul Rinzler, Kim McGrew, Cesar Reyes, Terrence Jones, Laura Montecalvo, and MartinWilliams, as well as journalists including among others Colin Rigley ( see and Matt Fountain ( see 12.Defendant City of Pismo Beach (“City” or “Pismo Beach”) is a municipalcorporation in the County of San Luis Obispo, California, subject to the jurisdiction and venue of this Court. Pismo Beach is a “general law city,” vested with the power to make and enforcewithin its limits all local ordinances and regulations not in conflict with general laws. The Cityhas less than four square miles of land and a population of less than 8,000.13.Defendant City of Pismo Beach City Council (“Council”) is responsible for governing the City. The Council has five members and a mayor who serve part time and meet twice a month. The Council typically deals in local issues such as permitting, zoning,licensing, land use and development, public works, and tourism.14.The Council appointed Paul Jones the City Chaplain (“Jones”) in 2005, and it grants Jones a privileged opportunity to pray at every meeting. The Council has officiallyhonored Jones for his years of ordained service. See  Exhibit 2.15.Defendant Shelly Higginbotham (“Mayor Higginbotham”) is Mayor of 
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