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    Posted May 17, 2013 by
    LaGrange, Georgia

    Atheist Runs for Mayor in GA City Where It's Illegal to Laugh Near a Church

    Mike Smith, an open atheist, has announced his candidacy for mayor in LaGrange, GA, where a city ordinance makes it a crime to laugh near a church.

    LaGrange city ordinance Sec. 35-1-6 ("Disturbing divine worship") reads: "It shall be unlawful for any person to be engaged in loud talking or laughing, or any other disorderly conduct, in or near the entrance or vestibule of any church..."

    "Sec. 35-1-6 improperly panders to religion," Smith said. "There are other laws against being disorderly and making too much noise. Churches are not entitled to special laws to force people to respect them. This unconstitutional, unnecessary, and un-American ordinance is the first silly law we should repeal."

    Smith has received hate mail and death threats in his conservative, Southern hometown, but that has not stopped his campaign.

    "If the voters want to vote for or against me for whatever reason, that is their right, but I am an atheist, I am a war veteran, and I have the same right as every American to fully participate in our secular constitutional democracy, " said Smith.

    Besides repealing Sec. 35-1-6, Smith would also like to decriminalize marijuana in the city, establish a reasonable minimum wage, implement a public transportation system, regulate assault weapons, adopt a women's equal rights ordinance, and stop the practice of rolling probation fines and fees onto municipal utility bills.

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