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         Friday, August 12, 2011        

City of Blue Island to stop putting
church anniversaries on vehicle stickers

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The Mayor of the City of Blue Island has issued an Executive Order that discontinues the practice of commemorating the anniversaries of local churches on their municipal vehicle tax stickersMayor Donald E. Peloquin's Executive Order also allows residents to cover up the religious portion of this year's vehicle sticker.

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The Executive Order comes after I made a presentation to the City's Judiciary Committee on July 5th and the full City Council on July 12th.  I urged the City to review the constitutionality of a continuation of this practice.

Blue Island vehicle sticker.
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I told Blue Island officials that, while the recognition of a major anniversary of a religious organization may be a secular purpose, putting the name of a church and the name of a religious denomination on a vehicle sticker had the effects of advancing religion and of creating an excessive entanglement between government and religion, in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  A Blue Island resident had asked me to articulate those concerns to municipal officials.

The United States Supreme Court has established a three-part test for constitutionality regarding state/church separation.  That test, from the case of Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 US 602 (1971), says that, in order for an action by government to be constitutional with regards to state/church separation, the primary purpose of the act must be secular, the action must neither advance nor inhibit religion, and the government action must not create an excessive entanglement between government and religion.

It's not enough for an action by government to pass just one of those three tests.  In order for an action by government to be constitutional, it must pass all three of those tests. 

City Attorney James D. Brosnahan told me that the City had always intended to do the right thing and operate in a completely lawful manner.  He said, however, that the City found my presentation to be persuasive, so they made the change.

I told him that I thank the City for having an open mind about this subject, and for being willing to resolve the matter without the expense of litigation.  Such litigation always causes major divisiveness along religious lines within a community, so resolving the matter without litigation is a good thing for the community.

Previous Rob Sherman News stories about this subject matter:

Friday, July 15:  Blue Island agrees to allow residents to cover up Christian portion of vehicle sticker

Thursday, July 7:  Sherman makes presentation to Blue Island Judiciary Committee regarding vehicle sticker

Wed., July 6:  Blue Islanders can cover up Christian content on vehicle stickers, per Supreme Court decision

Tuesday, July 5:  Sherman to speak at Blue Island City Council meeting regarding Christian vehicle sticker

Thursday, June 30:  City of Blue Island vehicle sticker unconstitutionally promotes church

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