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Groups exercising the First Amendment

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POSTED January 14, 2014 1:29 a.m.

Three of the five pillars of the First Amendment are getting a workout Wednesday in Manteca at the most appropriate place — the Manteca Library and the adjoining Library Park.

The Stockton Area Atheists and Freethinkers are gathering to hear a lecture from 8 to 9:30 p.m., Wednesday in the McFall Room of the Manteca Library.

That has prompted two churches — the Place of Refuge and Christian Worship Center — to offer a warming station at the Library Park gazebo starting at 7:30 p.m. the same evening for prayer and worship along with hot chocolate and coffee for all in attendance.

In one fell swoop the freedom of religion, speech and assembly will be exercised.

The evening of prayer is being organized by Pastor Mike Dillman of the Place of Refuge and Pastor Steve Perea of the Christian Worship Center that are both located on Button Avenue.

“While we do not wish to deny any person or organization their right to exercise free speech, we wish to make our presence known as a Christian community at Library Park on Wednesday,” Dillman said. “We encourage the Manteca Christian community to join us.”

Stockton Area Atheists and Freethinkers are hearing from Sacramento State philosophy professor Matt McCormick. His lecture is based on parallels he believes exists between the Salem witch trials and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He contends historical evidence about magic in Salem is far greater than evidence about Jesus Christ’s ascension to heaven.

It’s safe to say there are those who disagree with that assessment.

David Diskin of the Freethinkers notes his group — which was behind billboards that popped up a few years back along Highway 99 questioning the existence of God — is non-confrontational. And just like the two churches, anyone is welcome to attend the lecture.

For more information on the group or the churches go to,, or

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