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.


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If you go back and read history and not the approved civil rights narrative you'll find out that Rosa Parks' act was very well orchestrated and planned.  Still what she did was the right thing to do.  The entire civil rights movement can be traced back to that moment and even the people who were involved with Rosa Parks at the time had no idea it would ever lead to what it did.  All they were after was an end to a stupid rule for city buses.

What's up with the commission? Does Jesus pick out their shirts? I thought at first... maybe it was the bridge of a starship; headed for the heavens.

I was watching the comet-smashin-into-earth movie "deep impact". Sure enough when things were looking bleak, the president started about his belief in gawd. Hollywood sucks about stuff like that..

"...their shirts?"

Yea that's freaking me out, I think George Orwell had them in mind when he wrote 1984. :)

Pod people in group think mode. LOL

Is there a local statute that these city officials can reference to support their action of removal? It is appalling that peaceful civil disobedience is construed as unlawful. What would their reaction have been if the individual had stood and turned his back the other way? This proceeding smacks of coercion.

Well put. Perhaps he is patriotic but refused to bah out some pledge that has "god" in it. "Say this pledge with the lord in it or you are anti-American" is virtually what he was told . Maybe he does support the troops and cares about America. And even if he doesn't it's no ones business per him attending a meeting.

I'm never stunned by the lack of grace shown by Christians. A government that genuinely supports freedom of religion should not endorse or engage in religous practices of any sort.

Actually, I'd contact the ACLU.

Let me ask you folks this: It's Thanksgiving and about 20 people are there for the Thanksgiving Day feast. To them, it's a quasi-religious holiday, at least for the more devout. You all sit down for dinner and whoever is at the head of the table (your family's elder) calls for a recitation of grace and asks little Abigail.

Do you bow your head and keep your mouth shut or do you insist on being allowed to recite an atheist invocation?"

How does one handle situations like this while being both true to oneself and not seeming like an asshole who just wants to spoil the mood?

BTW, as a bit of an meaningful aside, when I was married and my daughter was a competitive swimmer, my then wife, a German citizen, who was to be a lane judge, remained seated during the National Anthem, was removed and replaced as a lane judge for exhibiting disrespect.

Soon afterward, she contacted the German consulate and asked what her duty is during the American National Anthem and the advice was to participate by standing and putting her hand over her heart, but not to sing, in the interest of respecting the ceremony while not fully participating in it.

That's one way, but I think you'll agree how to deal with it depends upon oneself and one's family. I just bow my head along with them when grace is recited (no hand holding goes on) and wait it out. Then it's "Pass the turkey."

The problem came up more severely when my dad died and there was really no avoiding attending his memorial service. I was asked, as the eldest sibling, if I would be near the head of the procession up the aisle, just behind the cross-bearer. I declines simply saying, "I'm not comfortable with that because I'm not religious." I think the request was pro forma because my family must know at least that I'm not Christian by now. I did bow my head at appropriate times but didn't mouth any of the responses.

Later on, I did participate in something. I was the one chosen to deposit my father's ashes in the ground behind the church. There was a quick prayer, and once again I simply bowed my head and certainly didn't say "Amen" (which literally means "so be it" or "I agree").

On my maternal side, the person saying grace is usually brief.  On my paternal side, they get pretty long-winded, taking a couple minutes sometimes, giving thanks for everything and everyone they can think of.  In both cases, I don't bow my head, I don't close my eyes, but I stand there quietly while they do their thing.  It's been that way for years.  Nobody's mentioned it.

I will be respectful in the homes of theists when it comes to thanking their god for the food. I will remain silent and let them say their prayer. If asked why I am silent I will explain to them that I do not believe in the god that they believe in. If they press me further about it, I will explain that I am an Atheist but have no problem or issue with people of faith as long as my views are respected.

If I am at work, in an election booth, a courthouse or any political or public group that insists on promoting its religious ideas or ethos I will stand up and tell them they are breaking the law. If they get all pious and angry about it I will explain the law of the land and the constitution to them. If (and this has happened to me) they threaten to evict me from a public and tax payer funded meeting I will sit on the ground until the police arrive. If I am arrested I will later sue for false arrest if it is for religiously motivated reasons. When in court and asked to swear on the Bible I will remind the judge that I am being discriminated against in public court over a case about religious discrimination. If I lose then I will appeal the case to the European Court of Human Rights. Bring it on.

I do this in a country that has a Blasphemy Law that Pakistan models its own laws upon and they are at the stage where to even criticize that law is seen as blasphemous.

I have no problem with Theists and their toys as long as they keep them at home. I do not tolerate bullies.

The problem with theists (fundamentalists in particular) is they don't know how to keep their toys at home.  

Did you know according to a prominent fundamentalist judge the first amendment only applies to christians? BELIEVE IT!  Take a second to process how stupid that is to even say or think. Freedom of speech, religion, and assembly applying to only one religion isn't freedom of any sort... It's a theocracy like Iran....  

Oh while we're on the subject of Iran and idiotic lack of reasoning used by fundamentalists here's a quote from one of my local "heroes" of stupidity... a preacher and a state representative...

“Religious rights need to continue to trump gay rights. Otherwise, we’re heading down the road of Iran, where it’s convert or die, be quiet or die,” Hickey said. “If we want to talk about church and state, this is a bill that keeps the state out of my church.” 

That is definitely going to win a prize for being wrong on more levels than twenty amputee midgets having an orgy in an elevator at St Judes Childrens Hospital


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