Calvary Chapel Downey’s Fourth of July event at Downey High School rubbed some people the wrong way, with several people calling into City Hall to complain about the overtly religious nature of the event, according to city officials.
The church paid tens of thousands of dollars to put on the event this year, which included music, preaching and fireworks.
No admission was charged.
And, before the event, the church made no bones about plans to give the night a Christian theme. The website for the show, which was dubbed “D4″ by the church, had a video saying the event would feature a message of Christian salvation.
Even so, some were bothered that ‘D4′ didn’t seem to focus much on the themes of political liberty and sacrifice.
One Downeybeat.com reader said she was annoyed that the night featured very little patriotic music. She also said “D4″ came off more like a religious concert than a fun family night. Other readers said the were caught off guard by the church’s involvement, saying they thought they were going to a typical city-funded event that would feature pop songs mixed with patriotic music.
And city officials on Thursday and Friday fielded calls from residents who did not like the expression of religion and wondered if the city had somehow sponsored the event, which it did not.
Others praised the church’s effort, with several facebook users saying they like the event and that they were happy the church took advantage of the religious freedom set forth in the Bill of Rights.
Rev. John Higgins, the pastor at St. Raymond’s Catholic Church, posted a facebook message in support of publicly talking about one’s faith:
“I was unable to attend, but I heard from others that it was a great event, including the testimony of those who were touched by Jesus Christ, healed by Him and a sermon by someone from Calvary Chapel. I am glad to hear that we are now not only allowed, but encouraged to share our faith in Jesus Christ in public. And although I believe no one should be forced to accept Christianity, the proclamation of Christianity in public is certainly a good thing!”
Higgins has done some of his own public worship. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, he led a service at the Stonewood Center.