Atheists are predictably unhappy with a New Mexico town allowing a Ten Commandments monument but an attorney says an atheist group has gone too far.
The monument in Hobbs had already angered the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), earning the town a lawyer's angry letter, but the atheist group was apparently angered by the religious content at a January event honoring the birthday of Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
FFRF attorney Christopher Line fired off a complaint letter to Hobbs about the "gospel music and religious messages," calling them "inappropriate."
Dr. King, a Baptist minister, is known for his Civil Rights speeches that drew heavily from religious imagery, including his "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963 during the March on Washington. The speech concludes with a reference to the 19th century gospel song, "Free at Last."
The vital work of black churches, in fact, is a historic part of the Civil Rights movement, including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that was started in 1957 by black ministers with King as the president.
King's famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" was addressed to local clergy who didn't support King's efforts in the city.
FFRF's complaint about the King celebration caught the attention of Todd Starnes of Fox News Radio, who stated in a Fox News commentary that it's "beyond ludicrous that anyone would take issue with religious overtones and gospel songs performed during a ceremony honoring a former Christian minister."
Quoting from the attorney's letter, Starnes notes that the attorney complained that city officials are not permitted to "lend credibility or prestige to religion by including religious messages in city events."
First Liberty attorney Mike Berry told Starnes that FFRF bullies cities and towns over public displays of faith.
"And in this case," the attorney said, "I really think the FFRF has gone too far."
Berry wondered aloud if FFRF would have sent a complaint letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior after King's 1963 speech.