The Town of Moraga sign on Moraga Road has a variety of paid messages advertising various services and events in the town. Just now it has a message from the Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church saying "Worship the Lord Sundays at MVPC."
At least one Moraga resident is crying foul.
"Since the sign is emblazoned with Town of Moraga, an innocent viewer might think that the town endorses whatever appears on the sign," said Steve Horwitz. "I would have the same concerns were the sign promoting attendance at Temple Isaiah."
Since the sign is an official representation of the town, Horwitz says that it should not include any kind of religious message, regardless of demonination.
"A sign proselytizing for a specific church, denomination or even religion, though protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech, is an inappropriate use of property belonging to the town of Moraga."
"We rent the sign to all nonprofits, private, and commercial entities," said Jill Keimach, Moraga town manager. "We cannot discriminate between entities since it is a free speech issue. This issue comes up a couple of times a year when someone doesn't agree with the message."
The town council has, she said, opted for more free speech rather than restrict a particular message.
"The town has been careful not to discriminate on who should be able to purchase time on the sign depending on individuals' value systems," Keimach said. "We do not and cannot control content under free speech."
"It’s just a paid advertisement," said Nat Webber, executive administrator of the church. "It's the same as we would pay to
advertise in the local paper or on Patch."
Horwitz said that he is requesting the matter to be on the next town council agenda.
What do you think? Should this be an issue for the town council to discuss, or is it no big deal?