For the second time in the last year, a local atheist has filed a federal lawsuit against the mayor of San Antonio over the dividing line between church and state.
Patrick Greene, a 61-year-old truck driver, filed suit Friday against Mayor Julián Castro in U.S. District Court for leading the Pledge of Allegiance at weekly City Council meetings.
Greene filed a similar complaint last October against then-Mayor Phil Hardberger, in objection to National Day of Prayer gatherings being held on the steps of City Hall. Greene ultimately dropped that lawsuit.
His opposition to the pledge is centered on two words — “under God” — which were added in 1954 at the urging of President Dwight Eisenhower. Greene wants the council to omit the phrase when they recite the pledge.
Responding to the suit, Castro said: “Mr. Greene is entitled to his opinion, but we're going to continue saying the pledge as it is.”
Greene's crusade has not extended to the weekly invocations delivered at council meetings by local pastors, and he said he wouldn't have objected if Hardberger had read a generic proclamation on the council dais in support of the National Day of Prayer.
“I don't mind the council saying the pledge, but I would like it in its original form, the way it was meant to be,” Greene said. “It should be written so that all citizens can recite it, believers and non-believers alike.”