This is the APPLE Biter Blog, commentary and news on local religion and secular government.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Okaloosa School Board pre-meeting prayer CHAOS! (VIDEO, news links)

Here's the video of what happened when I tried to offer a prayer BEFORE the October Okaloosa School Board meeting.  The xtians have been holding prayer rallies before the meeting.  I asked to participate and got no answer.  So I exercised my equal civil right to pray.

The school board voted (illegally) to set rules to keep holding public prayers, but allow anyone local, representing a 501c3 organization (church).  They ditched the temporary, inclusive moment of silence.  They are supported by the Libery Counsel.  They are NOT protected by Galloway, like legislative body, but they want to test it.  They hold a final vote is in December.

Here's the NWFL Daily News (brief, video) story.  It's highlights:

Here's the FULL video, taken by someone in the room:

And here's a news story:

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bayview Cross - Prior Cross Efforts, LARGER Replacement, Alt.Monument, Public Records Requests

I learned some interesting news this weekend.  Maybe 15 years ago, another group of citizens tried to work with the City to make the Bayview cross convertible - so it would not stand year round.  Their suggestion was to hinge it or make it removable - same as I suggested before engaging attorneys.  How did the City respond?  They put it off and said some changes were in the works for the park.  Apparently, for the cross, they were:

A NEW, LARGER cross (the one currently in place) was installed!!  I now have a public records request in to find out who paid for said newer, larger cross.  The current one eclipses the cross alleged to be placed at Calvary.  It's about 20 feet tall and quite thick.  I suspect it was erected by the City a taxpayer expense.  At the very least, they helped.  We'll see.

I've also noted that the cross has lighting on it.  Recently, it has been turned off - perhaps due to the controversy.  I have strong suspicions that the City has been paying to light the cross at night for years.  It's just more indication of the privilege and monetary support afforded to Christians by the City of Pensacola.

I've asked the mayor and Parks department (for a 4th time in a month) how one might apply to place another religious monument next to the cross.  Still no answer.

Finally, I've made a public request to the City for rental applications for previous Easter celebrations at the cross.  I want to be sure the churches who sponsor these events are paying for use of the space and providing liability insurance, cleanup, etc - as every secular group is required to do.  If not, the City will have some 'splaining' to do.

Stay tuned.

Rally for Bayview Cross = FAIL (WEAR Stories)

There was to be a "rally" in support of the Bayview cross on August 15th, 6pm.

Here's WEAR's story:

Background: I called Monday to see if they had reserved the space.  I was told they had not and it was not required - free speech, free to gather and all.  NOTE: There is a deadline on the rental agreements of two-weeks beforehand - obviously not met.  I dropped in Saturday (5:30-ish) and they had set up a sound system, using the electricity reserved for those reserving the space.  I asked and was told they had reserved the space and was told yes... therefore, I could not share the space.  No incident ensued.  I said a Pagan prayer of protection beneath the cross (while they sang and played over me), then left.

The event itself?  FAIL!  Here's the follow-up news story (from the page of one of the organizers):
**check out the kitty with the crown - classic Christian camp!

"Several" people attended.  Guess what?  The support often ends when actual action (not just Facebook comments and emails) is required.

I am following up about the application to use the space and waiving of the two-week deadline.  I also want to be sure they paid for the space, as required for everyone else.  Let's hope this doesn't prove to be more Christian privilege practiced by the City.

Frankly, I'm glad this rally was held.  It showed exactly what we needed to prove that the cross is not a secular symbol or mere art piece.  It is a purely religious nod to local Christians.  It serves no secular purpose whatever.  Even the minister (?)  who spoke said that removing it would be "like trying to bring a church down"... yes, from public land.  BTW, Bayview park is not the only place where outdoor Easter services are held.  There are SEVERAL around town and on the beach. Thanks for the damning quote, though!

Top Ten Social Media Responses to Bayview Cross

As shared at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pensacola 8/16/2015:

Beyond blaming me for bringing a legitimate legal issue to the City, beyond posting my name and address, beyond and suggesting folks visit my house with torches and pitchforks, HERE are social media's

TOP TEN responses to the idea of removing the giant cross from Bayview Park:
10 Can't these hateful people focus on helping folks instead of hurting us!
9 Tell those Washington, DC outsiders to go to Hell.  This is OUR city.
8 If you don't like it, move away, look away, or go to another park.
7 It's not just OUR Christian symbol; it reminds EVERYONE of Jesus's love.
6 It's been there forever.  WHY are you complaining about it now?
5 If don't take a stand, they'll come after ALL the church crosses next.
4 We are majority-Christian and our laws are based on Christian teachings.
3 Cut a a square around the cross and give the land to a church.  Issue settled.
2 It doesn't hurt you, so leave it alone and stop trying to take away our stuff!
...and the #1 response to removing the giant cross from Bayview park:
1 I'm offended that you're offended by our beloved cross!
> BTW: I am not offended the cross.  It just doesn't belong on public land.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Pensacola News Journal Coverage (+ WEAR)

Will Isern is doing a generally good job covering this.  Unfortunately, there is little legal news from the City, only the political angle, which makes better copy.

Initial story, slightly edited when City responded:

Troy Moon's editorial, supporting the cross:

Update, where the City rejects the idea of removing the cross:

**To find the HUGE (and ignorant, mostly legally irrelevant) social media backlash in social media, find these articles on the Pensacola News Journal's Facebook page.

WEAR TV3 also did a story, much less detailed, but equally enraging to some locals (who like to mix church and state to their advantage) on social media.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Letter to City - Other Religious Monuments

Still no answer to this inquiry, sent of the weekend:

Mr Mayor, Mr Cooper, et al, 

I understand that the City wants to "respect all religions without showing preference to any”. In that vein, can you please tell me how one would apply to place another religious monument in Bayview Park?

I have been contacted by another group that has a religious statue available. They suggested I reach out to find out how it may be placed alongside the Bayview cross.

Your answer would be greatly appreciated.

David Suhor

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Regarding the Pensacola Beach Cross

Until the Bayview Cross controversy was brought to my attention, I never really considered the smaller, but better known concrete cross at Pensacola Beach. If anything, I thought it was a historic marker, placed on a particular spot for historical reason alone. Now I'm questioning that. Here's a pic, courtesy of Eddie Newkirk:

The cross's placement and plaque bring up several questions:

Is that the actual spot? More to the (constitutional) point, why is the landowner (the government, I assume) marking religious services, whenever they may have taken place? And why a Christian cross on public property, as opposed to a historic marker alone, on the correct spot? Could it be because those who placed the marker had a religious motive? And is this on federal or local property?  

As they say, history is written by the winners. This makes me wonder what was recorded in the public record when the beach cross was placed. Hopefully, that information can be found and examined. A resolution by the Santa Rosa Island Authority will perhaps reveal the true intentions. Maybe a news story has comment by those who permitted the cross. Maybe there was a public declaration, along with a permit.

If I had to guess from the little bit I know now, I would say this was another effort to 'mark the territory' as Christian. But I won't know that until I do more research. As with the Bayview park cross in Pensacola, I will keep an open mind and hope the record reveals itself. My personal hope is that this isn't about religion, but about actual history. Keep in mind, though, it was placed in the 50s, near the time "In God We Trust" was added to our paper currency and "One nation under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance. Like the Bayview cross, it was the site of Easter services for many years to follow.
One article online said this of the beach cross:

"In May of 1954, the Knights of Columbus joined with the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce and the Santa Rosa Island Authority to erect the cross as a tribute to the religious milestone."

The website (sponsored by Santa Rosa Island Authority, an elected government board) says this:

The Island Cross stands tall on Pensacola Beach

The 10-foot, cast concrete cross on Pensacola Beach commemorates the first Christian mass held in the United States. The Knights of Columbus first placed it on the north side of Fort Pickens Road in 1959 as part of the quadricentennial celebration of Don Tristan de Luna's landing in Pensacola, establishing America's first European settlement. Some time later, the cross was moved to its current home on the south side of Fort Pickens Road.

The cross has stood firm through many bouts with Mother Nature, including, most recently, Hurricane Ivan, which flattened most gulf-front dunes for several miles east and west. So far, there is no scientific explanation as to why the dune and the cross have been spared so many times. According to several residents, the answer will never come from science but instead can be found from within.

Does that sound like a historical or religious motive? Or both?  And does that sound like an accurate, unbiased account of the "Island Cross"?

For the record, I don't think anyone has asked that this cross be removed from public land... yet. That would depend on the facts more than anything.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

FFRF Letter - on Bayview Cross

When it rains it pours.  Now FFRF wants in on the action.

Bayview Cross - Humanist Legal Center Cease and Desist Letter

You can read the letter here:

I am not granting interviews or making statements about this action.  I leave that to the Appignani Humanist Center - the attorneys who wrote the letter.  For local perspective, the Humanists of West Florida may comment on this matter.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Emails with City (Pcola) Parks Dept over Bayview Cross

I want to be clear that I attempted to speak with the City and work with them before going the legal route.  The messages below contain my requests, as well as both the responses I received from the City Park department.  I also sent other emails (without response), requesting a meeting and copying the the Mayor and City Attorney, with no responses.  

-----Original Message-----
From: "Brian Cooper" []
Date: 07/02/2015 11:35 AM
To: "'wordsnmusic'" <>;
Subject: RE: meeting - re: Crucifix in Bayview Park


Please see below as I have replied to your previous emails. 

The City of Pensacola owns Bayview Park. The amphitheater and accompanying features belongs to the City of Pensacola. All information related to this particular portion of Bayview Park, that we could readily put our fingers on, has been provided to the City Attorney's office in response to your public records request. 

Brian Cooper
Parks and Recreation
City of Pensacola
(850) 436-5670
(850) 436-5199 FAX

-----Original Message-----
From: wordsnmusic [
Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2015 1:27 PM
To: Brian Cooper
Subject: RE: meeting - re: Crucifix in Bayview Park


Once again, I'm asking for a meeting. Since you are not responding, I assume you don't wish to meet.
So I ask this simple question. Please answer: WHO OWNS THE CROSS IN QUESTION? 


-----Original Message-----
From: "wordsnmusic" []
Date: 06/24/2015 03:42 PM
To: "Brian Cooper" <>;
Subject: RE: meeting - re: Crucifix in Bayview Park


Thank you. I know about the public records request, as I made it.

I am asking to sit down with you simply to discuss the issue and to gauge the City's position. Instead of bringing the issue to public's attention or pursuing it through legal channels, I would like to give the City a chance to act voluntarily - out of concern for religious neutrality and church/state separation. To that end, I have some suggestions. I'm asking to open that dialogue first. Is that something you are willing to do?

Among my public records requests, I asked who owns this crucifix. My public records request (W000736-061615) did not return any results. I have called, but am unable to get a straight answer to this simple question. I don't want to assume the City owns the cross, just because it is on City property. So perhaps you can tell me - who owns the cross?

I am available by phone, but I would prefer an answer by email or in person.


-----Original Message-----
From: "Brian Cooper" []
Date: 06/24/2015 09:53 AM
To: "'wordsnmusic'" <>;
Subject: RE: meeting - re: Crucifix in Bayview Park


The City is currently addressing this item through a public records request. I have assisted them by providing all of the details we have available in Parks and Recreation. 

Brian Cooper
Parks and Recreation
City of Pensacola
(850) 436-5670
(850) 436-5199 FAX

-----Original Message-----
From: wordsnmusic []
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 4:43 PM
To: Brian Cooper
Subject: Re: meeting - re: Crucifix in Bayview Park

Mr Cooper, 

Did you received this message? Are you available to meet?


-----Original Message-----
From: "wordsnmusic" []
Date: 06/14/2015 11:13 PM
To: "" <>;
Subject: meeting - re: Crucifix in Bayview Park

Mr Cooper,

May I meet with you in person to discuss the large crucifix in Bayview Park (near the boat ramp, picture attached)? I am concerned about its year-round placement on City property as a matter of church/state separation. I don't wish to create a public uproar or legal issue, so I am hoping we can reach a compromise that allows the crucifix to be erected whenever Christian religious services are at the nearby stage. Traditionally, that only happens on Easter. 

I am available most afternoons. I prefer to meet one-on-one, but if you feel you need an attorney present, I can enlist one as well.

David Suhor
850 512-2220

Thursday, July 9, 2015

ECSB's Bergosh Posts More Lies, Misunderstanding, Patronizing on his Blog; I Respond

Here's Jeff Bergosh's latest blog post and my responses.  He refused to post one response, so I've included it at the bottom.  Nothing here is new - just typical, entitled, condescending Jeff writing off Constitutional violations.  

The Board still will not give a written invocation policy.  Nor will they allow Humanists, Pagans or atheists to deliver invocations, despite multiple requests.  The good news... an attorney will soon be contacting them.  


Friday, June 19, 2015

Free Exercise Clause and the Freedom OF Religion

After performing a chant on a carpet in front of the Board's Dais,  David Suhor of Pensacola non-verbally protests the  opening  Christian Prayer of the Escambia County School Board by turning his back on the Board and holding a sign that reads Matthew 6: 5-8  6-16-2015
This past Tuesday night, I had the distinct honor and privilege of leading the opening prayer for the benefit of the assembled legislative body--the school board--- at our regular monthly meeting. 

Our board has a standing tradition of rotating the duty of the opening prayer/pledge of allegiance among the five board members.

Over the last year or so, we have been berated by an individual that has accused us of being non-inclusive in our prayers.  This individual has also inaccurately accused us of violating the law with our opening prayer practice.

The board has discussed this issue on several occasions and the consensus is that we stick with the current practice of rotating the 

duty of either bringing the opening prayer or bringing a guest to do so.

Importantly—our attorney Donna Waters stated publicly at open meetings that our current practice comports with the law and also with recent Supreme Court rulings; however, she does not guarantee that we will not invite litigation if we continue our opening prayer practice as we have been doing.

Furthermore, in an abundance of caution, she has recommended that the best way to insulate the board from litigation on this subject would be to have the board transition to a “moment of silence.”

The board heard what our attorney stated and still affirmed the intention to have individual board members make the determination about what sort of prayer we open our meetings with and which, if any, guests to invite.  I agree with this opinion.

Over the last 12 months we have been very inclusive—more so than ever before!  We have had poetry about geese instead of a prayer, we have had a moment of silence on multiple occasions instead of prayers, we have had a Jewish Rabbi lead our prayer, and we have also had Christian prayer.  We have been inclusive; we have demonstrated tolerance and compliance with Greece V. Galloway and Marsh V. Chambers, as well as with the U. S. Constitution.

The First Amendment of the Constitution contains the free exercise clause, which precludes the government from abridging the right of a citizen to practice the free exercise of his religious belief--  Any citizen, all citizens!  

In our nation, we have the freedom “of” religion, not a freedom “from” religion.  We also have the freedom of speech--even (especially) political speech.

Thank God we have these freedoms!

Nowhere in the constitution is there any mention of a “wall of separation of church and state.”

Activists and others that hate religion in general and Christians and Jews in particular-- claim there is a “freedom from religion.” They ignore the actual Constitution and simply hang on one badly faulted interpretation of a friendly letter to a Baptist group by an aging President as the basis for this incorrect belief.

Why do we allow a militant, vocal, yet minuscule minority opinion to sway us so often in this nation on this issue?  Why?


Anonymous said...
You've had ONE Rabbi pray - "for diversity and inclusiveness". That's literally tokenism defined. EVERY other prayer has been Christian. The good Rabbi had no idea why he was invited. IF so, he would not have accepted, knowing you reject other minority religions (like mine) routinely. Ask him again and see!! Hand-picking a rabbi (only after immense pressure) and rejecting religions you don't agree with is not inclusion. It's fakeness and pandering. It's choosing a related religion over ones you see as heretical. It's religious discrimination and it's not your job. It's illegal and will get the school board sued. It's why your attorney said "you NEED to go to a moment of silence". It's past time you make an agenda change to end such disrespect of our Constitution.

Fact is, leading ANY PRAYER at SB meetings breaks policy and you know it!! From the Student Handbook: "No person and no employee or agent of the District shall coerce, advocate, or encourage in any way whatsoever prayer or any other religious activity by students". Students are always present. YOU, Mr Boone and Mrs Moultrie clearly break that rule on your turns. HOW CAN YOU DENY THAT? Leading the prayer yourself (while others are waiting) is so selfish and arrogant. Even the handbook prescribes a moment of silence, so everyone can pray or not, as they wish. You ignore that in favor or Bible-based prayer alone. At least Mrs Hightower and Mr Slayton know that following your own rules is wise. They recently chose moments of silence, for the first time ever! Good on them. Now that needs to become board policy. Lead by example. Your rules apply to you too.

What's worse, you break Christ's own command, from Matthew 6:5-6: "And when you pray, do not be like the HYPOCRITES, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your closet, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." HOW ARE YOU OBEYING THAT? Is is so unclear? Or do you cherry pick pules from the Bible like you do from the student handbook? It looks like you do.

The problem is not praying. Pray all you want (on your own) before the meeting. The problem is using the school apparatus to push prayer on the audience, asking us to participate. That is illegal and should never happen in a school setting. Accepting only certain kinds of prayer offers exacerbates the problem. It's a government meeting, NOT CHURCH!! Our government must be neutral on issues of religion. not biased disproportionately. You are taking sides and pushing your limited (and frankly ridiculous) creed onto the agenda. Do you really expect supernatural intervention? I expect your motivation is pandering and self-righteous evangelism, but only you know.

This would never be tolerated in schools, so why are our school leaders pushing it? And why are you denying others the right to participate equally and without discrimination? I could go on, but you are blind and deaf, unable to perceive life from the POV of a non-Christian. It's simple confirmation bias.

I DARE YOU to answer my questions directly. Here they are again:
1) How are you not breaking school handbook policy?
2) How are you not disobeying Christ's command from Matthew 6:5-6?
3) Why can't you just have an inclusive moment of silence (on the agenda as such) instead?
4) How is seeking out a rabbi to pray, but rejecting offers-in-hand from Humanists and Pagans not discrimination?
5) Why won't the board move toward a moment of silence WITHOUT BEING SUED?

This last part is especially troublesome, knowing you will lose and cost our school system money better spent otherwise. Every other school board facing this issue has lost in court or backed down first. An ounce of prevention could prevent that.

David Suhor
Jeff Bergosh said...
Dave-you are always coming across as being so angry and agitated. I really don't know what to make of that other than to surmise that nothing will ever be good enough for you, to satisfy you, unless and until we all bow down to you, genuflecting before you as if you are some royalty from Game of Thrones. Unless you are totally, completely detached from reality Dave, you cannot help to have noticed that two times out of the last four meetings, the Board (Hightower, slayton) have had a moment of silence at the beginning of the meeting instead of offering a prayer. Here is an arithmetic lesson for you Dave--that's 50% of the last four meetings! We ARE BEING INCLUSIVE AND DIVERSE DAVE! Dave, the SB rule you quote is taken out of context, as is your badly flawed interpretation of the Greece v Galloway and Marsh v Chambers rulings and the first amendment of the Constitution. You are not Perry Mason, you are not a lawyer and your interpretation of what we are doing is incorrect. You are wrong. In this nation all citizens have the freedom OF Religion, guaranteed by the free exercise clause. You have heard our attorney's opinion, and you have heard the board deliberate this issue. We are continuing our recent practice of being more inclusive but maintaining the board's rotation of the pre-meeting prayer. We have become more diverse and we have become more inclusive--and this is not changing Dave. But that does not mean we will not ever have Christian prayer before our meetings--the recent SCOTUS rulings affirm the legality of this practice before the meetings of legislative bodies.
Anonymous said...

You don't know me. I only angry when the situation calls for it - like this one. You DO know that you break your own rules (school handbook and Matthew 6:5-6). You cannot explain how comply with both, so you say "out of context". How so? On both counts?

True inclusion does not mean you bring in ONE religion very close to your own, but reject all others asking to participate. It does not mean a moment of silence is brought 40% of the time and only by some two SB members. True inclusion means you welcome everyone, regardless of their religion, equally and without reservation. It means there is no religious test EVER (like "are you Christian?" as you asked me). Anything short of equal treatment, regardless of belief, is discrimination. You cannot tolerate true inclusion - accepting Muslims, Pagans, Humanists, atheists, Scientologist, ANYONE. That's why it's better to drop the prayers altogether.

When ALL meetings begin with a moment of silence, I'll know you are not favoring religion (specifically or generally), nor trying to push your own god into school functions. When non-believers can attend school board functions without being subjected to religious mumbo-jumbo and superstition, I'll know my job is done. Right now, that's not happening., so I press on. Meanwhile, the SB is inviting a lawsuit over an issue you are clearly wrong on.

In some cases (not school boards), prayer at legislative meetings is allowed under Galloway. Even then, SCOTUS made it clear that there can be no discrimination. Equal and fair access is the rule. As long as you choose the prayer-givers yourself, you can't be fair. It's in your nature to favor those beliefs you like and reject those you don't. I am the same way. So your attorney advised a moment of silence. What's wrong with that policy?

Look at it this way. Would you be willing to sit through a Muslim prayer at almost every school board meeting? No. So why should non-Christians endure your one-sided worship and calls for supernatural guidance from your god? They shouldn't. Golden rule Jeff. GOLDEN RULE!

I'll remind you that 20+% of Escambia population claims 'none' as their religion. By another survey, 50% of Americans don't even pray once a week. Yet we get a prayer meeting whenever our elected boards meet to do their jobs. That's wrong. Until I started speaking out, the Nones were ignored and subjected to Christian-only prayer at ALL ECSB meetings. These folks are afraid to speak up because they are there to ask for some consideration. In short, they don't want to rock the boat for fear they will be thrown over. After EVERY meeting, someone has thanked me for saying what they thought. I see them standing (eyes open, literally and metaphorically) while you pray over them. They ask me why reps like yourself pray at meetings. I can only tell them that you are pandering to your base, injecting your religion out of fear or feelings of inadequacy. Why else would you mix church and state?

Once again, I DARE YOU to justify your breaking the school handbook rule AND Matthew 6:5-6. You cannot because (according to Jesus) that's not what hypocrites do.

Long story short, the best solution is one from the student handbook - a moment of silence at EVERY school board meeting - where students are ALWAYS present. If you want to pray on your own, feel free to do so before the meeting and without using school facilities or meeting time. I will do the same.

Respectlessly, David
Jeff Bergosh said...
Dave--invariably there will be opportunities in the future at meetings for you to participate in a moment of silence so that you can perform whatever sort of prayer you would like to make in silence to yourself. The board has been inclusive, we have had a variety of prayers and/or moments of silence that allow opportunities for everyone to pray in his/her own way. You are wrong about the legality of the way we conduct our meetings, your assessment of our supposed illegal conduct is flawed. Again--you are not a lawyer, you don not have an accurate understanding of the law. Don't try to force your naive and flawed interpretation of the law down our throats--it becomes a tired refrain. Relax a bit-- Try not to be so vitriolic in your condemnation of what we are trying to do in managing our meeting. Try to enjoy the weekend, catch a ballgame or go to the beach--relax a little why don't you? Try not to fixate on the school board, we are doing the right thing with respect to making our meetings more inclusive for everyone.

And my comment/rebuttal to his earlier comment, which Jeff did not publish:

If you want a reason I may be angry, here are a few:

1) You lied repeatedly.  When we first spoke, here's what you said (paraphrasing, but very near your quote):
ME: Is your next invocation available?
YOU: Maybe, but I need to ask some questions?
YOU: Are you Christian?
ME: No.
YOU: What are you?
ME: I would give a Pagan invocation.
YOU: (angrily) Oh no. Not ever, ever on my watch.
ME: Are you aware that the Supreme Court ruled in Galloway...    

It went downhill from there and you hung up on me.  I wrote down your words immediately afterward, but you won't own them... kinda like your Godzilla comments on the PNJ a few years ago.  Like with the PNJ, it's time to come clean.  Apparently (by your attorney), it's OK to prefer Christian prayer, since the board is all Christian.  So why are you still lying about giving me the litmus test when I asked to offer a prayer?

2) The board refuses to put an invocation policy in writing.  That is ridiculous!!  WHY NOT?  Is it because you don't want to affirm the apparatus of your discrimination?  Nor will you answer letters from attorneys.  Nor adopt a policy that removes any personal prejudice by keeping a list and picking on a random or first-come/first serve.  No matter.  Prayer should never be led by school staff anyway.

3) You won't hear invocations from Humanists, atheists or Pagans (or many others).  In fact, my invocation offer was rescinded, clearly due to my religion.  You yourself sought out a Jewish prayer-giver when you had offers from several other minorities.  We minorities are still waiting, 10 months later.  Instead of taking those "on the list", you and Mr Boone even gave the prayer yourself.  And Mrs Moultrie took the first Christian who asked, Mr. Nims.  How is that not discrimination?

4) The poor rabbi.  He told me (immediately after his prayer) that he had no idea he was there to bring diversity.  He said that he would never have prayed had he known other minorities were refused as a matter of course.  That is SO disrespectful to him, using him to fake diversity.  Because Jesus was Jewish, he was acceptable, right?  I rightly called his appearance "token".  That was your doing, not his (as a pawn).  It's a shame you never told him he was there to serve that role.  I'm sure you are looking for a Muslim prayer-giver now.  Right? 

In short, we should ALL be angry that our school board favors Christianity to the exclusion of other religions.  That is not your role.  This continuing conflict is why we need government to be neutral on religious matters!!  You can not be trusted to treat all religions (and lack thereof) equally.  You will always push a special Christian privilege.  As a taxpayer, I want our PUBLIC school system to be free of prescribed religious content.  Is it so hard to make our schools religiously-neutral?  Just go to a MOS (per your own rules) and this will all go away.  Keep doing the same thing and you WILL be sued.  I promise.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

PICS: Cross-to-Anchor, Historic Info on Stage, PNJ & City Council 1951

Below is some of the (scant) data I've collected about the history of the cross.

But first, here's what they did to a cross in Grand Haven, Michigan.  I LOVE IT!  I wish they would do this here!!  It would be so appropriate, since the cross overlooks the water and we have a long, stories Naval history here.

And now the FEW resources I could find, as well as a pic of the plaque dedicating THE STAGE, NOT THE CROSS itself.

From the City Council minutes, 1951 concerning the stage.  The resolution itself is lost, I'm told:

An article about THE STAGE, not the cross itself, from a 1951 Pensacola News-Journal microfilm:

And a close-up of the plaque dedicating THE STAGE to Frasier Phelps.  I have no problem with the plaque or the stage.  In fact, I contacted his family (mentioning only that I was researching the history of the cross) to learn about the early history of the Easter services.  They were very helpful.  There is no plaque commemorating the cross itself - probably because it is has no historical significance, except to celebrate Christianity in Pensacola.

Another FB Post, Indicating the City's Position (screenshot)

Like the others, this one continued after I captured this screenshot.  I haven't included all posts, but my response (my last, if I can help it) is below.

David Suhor I'm not going to debate this on FB anymore. No one's minds will be changed. But, just to be clear, I didn't initiate this. I am responding to a complaint from a group that rented space in the park. They know I care about Establishment Clause issues in local government, so they reached out to me. I tried for weeks to get a meeting with (or answers from) the P&R director. Responses were non-existent or terse at best. No meeting, though. Recently, I tried the City Attorney and the Mayor. I've suggested several compromises that would make this cross less biased and problematic. No answer.
I have NO desire to get involved in a legal fight. BUT, whatever the popular opinion, there is clearly a church/state violation here. It may not rise to the level of bothering you, but it's there and it bothers some folks. I see it as similar to the Confederate flag, but without the public outcry or historical context. This area of civics is my passion, so I'll enlist all resources available to resolve it in a Constitutional manner. 
In the end, I believe compromise (convert to anchor or a removable cross/not year-round) is better. But that's not the position the City seems to be taking. They know this could create a costly (and losing) legal battle, but choose not to act unless faced with a lawsuit... then they will give up park land to avoid it (a failure as strategy, BTW). Is it worth spending tax dollars on such a losing cause? For the sake of Christian privilege? I think not. So I hope they'll reconsider. 
Rally all you want. Gather pitchforks and subtly threaten me on FB, Ashli. Pray or try some other ineffective means. I will work within the law - for our Constitution, for the separation of church and state, and for local government to practice religious neutrality, as they should.
2 hrs · Like · 3