Mayor and police chief remove resident for refusing to stand for prayer & pledge

John Rees, the mayor of Winter Garden, Florida ordered police Chief George A. Brennan to remove Joseph Richardson from a city commission meeting on August 28th, 2014 after Richardson refused to stand for a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Joseph Richardson is a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation who has been asking the city to let him give an invocation at the meeting, a duty reserved for city commissioners or clergy picked by the mayor.

Now seems like a good time to remind everyone that just four months ago, our conservative Supreme Court just voted along party lines to issue the Orwellian ruling that government sectarian prayers are not only secular, they do not advance religion or coerce residents in any way.

Now stand up you little turd or I'll have the cops drag you out.

>>>> UPDATE: MAYOR APOLOGIZES AND ENDS CITY COUNSEL PRAYERS 

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The next meeting should have 20 who refuse to stand. The meeting after that, 200.

It might have helped if he stated that the supreme court has ruled that he does not have to stand, and that if the police officer threw him out, they would be in violation of his rights and could press charges.  I understand he is making a point, but being an atheist and seeking acceptance also means not intentionally attending meetings just to antagonize.

He attended with a camera to record himself getting thrown out.  It's one thing to attend a council meeting to keep up or provide input to the direction the city is going, but he was only there to make a point about being atheist.  We might approve, but it makes bad publicity among the general public and further alienates our cause by taking such actions.  It's one thing to be Rosa Parks on a bus, it's another to go to Ferguson specifically to riot.

In the original post it says he has been asking the city to let him give an invocation.  To me, that indicates an involvement with city government processes that goes beyond just showing up to video himself getting thrown out. 

I guess you don't have the patience for analogies?  Perhaps you're not aware of some of the background to this event.

Skip to around 25 minutes in:  http://media.askanatheist.tv/AAA_S17E8_Podcast.mp3

And this wasn't a one time showing at the council meetings in Winter Garden:

"Though Rees said he did not know Richardson by name, he recognized him from previous meetings as the man who sits in the front row and then leaves after the invocation and pledge. "He doesn't come to the meetings because he cares about the city," Rees said."

Richardson already spoke in, and has a lawsuit going in Brevard county (Winter Garden is in Orange county)  So it's not that he's just going to his local municipality so much as multiple council meetings across central Florida for one particular goal.  

I understand his goal, but if you want to impress upon the council what you're trying to accomplish, and want to have time to speak to them, you might want to start out by not offending them.  Even if he hadn't been thrown out, how many of them do you think would be inclined to listen to him after his initial behavior?  Yes, I get it, he has a right not to stand, but he also needs their votes to change the council bylaws.  The other option of course is to take them to court.... which is what CFLfreethought is doing in other places, but that's much more costly and less public friendly.  

If your goal is to create long term polarization against atheists in the community, you're succeeding.  Personally I find it to be a much more successful approach to behave as a humanist.

You're not behaving as a humanist and you don't seem to have the brainpower for even a simple analogy.... so let me try another one that you might be able to get;  You do for humanists what the Westboro baptist church does Christianity.  Congratulations on being too retarded to have a conversation with.

@WW - I also think your analogy was not useful. I can see no correlation between the bravery of the actions taken by Rosa Parks and people going out to riot. Your faulty arguments and logic have been pointed out to you in a very fair and reasoned reply. You appear either unwilling or unable to counter the points raised by GM. Instead you use another poor analogy which is more of an ad hominem attack than a rebuttal of any points made. That is against the guidelines of this site and will lead to you being banned from the site if it continues. This is something we usually only have to point out to Christians that throw tantrums and start name calling when they are losing an argument.

If your goal is to create long term polarization against atheists in the community, you're succeeding. 

There already is polarization and this has been caused by centuries of religious intolerance towards people that do not believe what Christians believe. I have personal experience of Christian bigotry and assumed superiority in the workplace. They remain unwilling to even try to reach any accommodation with me. All we are looking for is to be treated equally by legal and government institutions. As this is not happening we are being forced to highlight it and take legal action to get our constitutional rights.

I understand his goal, but if you want to impress upon the council what you're trying to accomplish, and want to have time to speak to them, you might want to start out by not offending them.

He did not set out to offend them. They decided to take offence at his attempt to exercise his constitutional rights.

It might have helped if he stated that the supreme court has ruled that he does not have to stand, and that if the police officer threw him out, they would be in violation of his rights and could press charges.

So if he had explained this do you think they would not have taken offence? Part of the problem is that it has to be explained to them. The council is a legally formed body and should already know the law.

On a personal level I am delighted with the current rise in cases taken by the FFRF and other Atheist organisations in the US and elsewhere. There will be plenty more cases like this one in the near future. I am taking some of my own where I live. When the law is on your side you should win and if the religious do not want to change then they need to be taken to court. I (we) are no longer going to passively let them have it all their own way.

 

I largely agree, but I seriously doubt if being able to participate in a local council meeting is protected in the Federal or even State's constitution. One does have a 1st Amendment right, but the right doesn't come with a proviso that you can say or do anything anywhere. The 1st Amendment mostly protects freedom of speech from interference by the Feds, as I understand it. And even there, there are plenty of exceptions.

Whitaker says:

"...you don't seem to have the brainpower..."

"You do for humanists what the Westboro baptist church does Christianity."

"Congratulations on being too retarded..."

Insults always work better then reasoned arguments. :D

Insults can result in banning as well.

Some of us are far less interested in bad publicity than the bottom line...that anyone in a developed western country would be thrown out of a public meeting for not pledging himself to x, y and god. It did happen. All other details we know so far are incidental.

Just to clarify.  He wasn't thrown out for not pledging to god, he was thrown out for not standing.

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