Letter to the Mayor of Hudsonville

Mayor Donald Van Doeselaar
3275 Central Blvd.
Hudsonville, MI 49426

Dear Mayor:

We write on behalf of Hudsonville taxpayers, who object to the inappropriate “Mission Statement” at the official Hudsonville website, which lists as part of its purpose: to “strive to serve God.” The Foundation is a national, not-for-profit organization, with over 12,000 members, whose purpose is to protect the fundamental constitutional principle of separation of church and state.

It is not the business of a city in our secular republic to “strive to serve God.” Cities are supposed to strive to serve citizens. Hudsonville citizens are free to believe, or disbelieve, in a god. The founding fathers deliberately invested sovereignty in “We, the People,” not in a divinity. In fact, our nation was the first to adopt an entirely secular and godless constitution. The wisdom of the founders in separating religion and government has averted so much of the religious warfare and strife tearing apart theocratic regions in the world. You took an oath of office to uphold our secular Constitution.

The Michigan State Constitution, in Art. I, Sect. 4, guarantees: “No person shall be compelled to attend, or against his consent, to contribute to the erection or support of any place of religious worship, or to pay tithes, taxes or other rates for the support of any minister of the gospel or teacher of religion. No money shall be appropriated or drawn from the treasury for the benefit of any religious sect or society, theological or religious seminary; nor shall property belonging to the state be appropriated for any such purpose. The civil and political rights, privileges and capacities of no person shall be diminished or enlarged on account of his religious belief.”

The presence of religion in the Mission Statement at a tax-supported city website establishes religion. A city should have no religious “beliefs.” That neutrality is the only way to ensure religious liberty for all citizens–which by definition includes the freedom to disbelieve and the freedom to dissent. We ask that the City immediately remedy this violation by removing references to “God” or religion from its Mission Statement. May we hear from you at your earliest convenience over what action you are taking to remedy this First Amendment violation?


Annie Laurie Gaylor

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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