Good Evening, Honorable Mayor and members of the Indio City Council.
My name is Francine Bellet, and I represent the over 400 members of the Freethinkers of the Coachella Valley and Desert Atheists Community, which include many residents of Indio.
I want to thank this body for honoring, respecting, and upholding rights of citizens under the United States Constitution, its First Amendment in the US Bill of Rights and amendments to International Religious Freedom Act, also known as the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, enacted by the US Congress and signed into law by our President last week. I want to thank this body for continuing the exercise of these rights, which respect the non-entanglement of government and religion, the separation of church and state, the recognition of not just freedom of religion, but also equal freedoms and equal protection under the laws for non-theists and theists alike, for believers and non-believers alike.
My being here tonight and addressing you for these secular comments is an example of the exercise of those same rights just mentioned [guaranteed by the US Constitution, First Amendment in the Bill of Rights, and the amendments to the International Religious Freedom Act], for which opportunity, I and many other citizens thank you.
May this body, the Indio City Council, continue to demonstrate respect, tolerance, inclusiveness, reason, and kindness, while it works in the best interests of all the citizens of Indio, non-theists and theists alike, for believers and non-believers alike.
Thank you, Honorable Mayor and members of the Indio City Council.
FFRF Member Bellett sent us this description of herself: “Francine Bellet has run afoul of those blurring the lines between church and state, and government insertion of religion into public education, ever since her kindergarten trip to visit Santa Claus at a local department store resulted in her defying a teacher who insisted it was OK to sit on the lap and talk to a fat, bearded stranger in a red suit, despite her parents’ warning never to talk to a stranger that they had not properly introduced her to. And she had never even heard of Santa Claus before, let alone been introduced to him by her parents. Since then, she has been motivated by interest in First Amendment rights, while a demonstrating student during the Sixties, to become a lawyer. After practicing for several years in Washington, D.C., as counsel to a joint congressional committee, and a couple of industry trade associations, she was recruited to the San Francisco Bay Area by a client company. She remained there, winding up practicing in Silicon Valley and starting and directing legal departments for high-technology companies. She recently semi-retired to the southern California desert.”