Church service at City Hall on May 22, 2021 in possible violation of the First Amendment ‘No Establishment’ clause aka ‘separation of church and state’

I only have about 10 minutes this week to articulate what was bothering me so on Saturday (May 22, 2021) about a church service being held at City Hall.

Here is the sign that was posted.
Is this a permit? Did City Of Palo Alto give a permit to hold a church service at City Hall?
Is directly in front of City Hall — in other photos the words CITY HALL make this obvious — the same as in City Hall?
Would the same event be more appropriate at a park, like at Lytton Plaza, two blocks away? (Or the Farmers’ Market grounds, adjacent?)
Did City Attorney Molly Stump rule or not on whether this violates the separation of church and state?
Did City Manager Ed Shikada rule or not on whether this violates the separation of church and state?
I saw the Chief of Police Robert Jonsen at the event — he did not speak; did he issue the permit?
If the same 300 or so Christians and 10 or so speakers appeared at 250 Hamilton and made the same speeches or prayers, sang the same songs and hymns but did not seek a permit per se, is that less a challenge to the First Amendment (First Amendment reads “Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of a religion” — it is freedom of religion and here freedom from religion)?
Would the same event with one Jewish speaker be more in compliance with the First Amendment?
If Reverend Bruce Reyes Chow, or Reverend Kaloma Smith had included the two words “Shabbat Shalom” — “good sabbath” — in their respective presentations, as I suggested they do, would that be more in compliance with the First Amendment?
Should we agree that we will not rent City Hall for future church services, prayer vigils or prayer services?

Was Kaloma Smith the only member of leadership involved in the event? What was his role (besides being a speaker)?

What is the significance of the fact that the plaza and building were built in 1970 and then in 2008 we put up a plaque dedicating the Plaza per se to “King Plaza” in honor of Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King?
Does making the same space next week available for a Jewish vigil make the whole thing ok, equal time, equal access?
Why doesn’t government — leadership — conduct government at City Hall? (Covid is ending, when will government reconvene? Similar: is a government by mediation and electronic media the same as government in person? Can Tom Dubois and Ed Shikada hold meetings of council outside, in front of City Hall, as the Vineyard just did)?
Could the Vineyard et al hold the same event and the same production value and same permits but sing not “Everlasting Love of Jesus” but “We Shall Overcome”?
Could they produce the same event without advertising it? I.e, especially in Covid time, with state and county health protocols, could they produce an event, sing, make prayers but not advertise and have no attendees, and then film it and show it later, for example on the internet?
Does referencing George Floyd  and Black Lives Matter make it okay to defy the First Amendment regarding Church and state? Is there an expediency to the George Floyd case or anniversary that makes us ignore the First Amendment issue?

Stay tuned.

—Mark Weiss
Earthwise Productions
Plastic Alto blog
Lions with Wings label
former City Council candidate — 8,000 votes
former candidate for arts, library, human relations, architectural review board and planning commissions
student of Vincent Starzinger at Dartmouth College, 1984 (“History of the US Constitution and The Supreme Court” — although I got a C)



NBA star and former Paly player Jeremy Lin and Reverend Bruce Reyes Chow spoke at the rally/concert/vigil/service. Jeremy Lin said that God let him down regarding Jeremy’s attempt to play in the NBA this season. Then he read a prayer about the “peace keepers”. God bless. 

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
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