Posted tagged ‘Atheists’

Modern Day Witch-Hunt in Polk County, Florida


Let’s imagine for a moment you have a daughter, Bethany, in high school with an absolutely clean academic and disciplinary records. One night, over dinner, Bethany reveals to you that her teacher, Mr. Duff, has been giving A’s to students who don’t deserve them and provides you with copies of the work in question as proof. First thing the next morning, you speak with the principal, Ms. Bolland, to see that this matter is dealt with. Giving better grades to students that don’t deserve them is not only a disservice to the student who received the better grade, since they’re ultimately unprepared for the next year, it is a disservice to the tax payers, because they are paying for a dishonest and poor educator, and to every other student in the school, since they earned their good grades the right way.

Later that week, you receive a call from Ms. Bolland with some upsetting news: Bethany has received detention. According to Mr. Duff, Samantha, one of Bethany’s peers, accused Bethany of smoking a cigarette behind the school during lunch. Bethany did no such thing. Mr. Duff is punishing her even though no one actually saw this and even though Samantha has a somewhat of a well-known grudge against your daughter and an ulterior motive in making these allegations. The following day, Ms. Bolland calls you again but this time with some news that is significantly more frustrating: Bethany is being punished with a week of in-school suspension. The allegations against your daughter have no evidence aside from hearsay. It’s clear Bethany is innocent of the things she’s been accused of. Mr. Duff is furious with your daughter for the trouble he sees Bethany as being the cause of (when the blame rests squarely on his shoulders for forging grades in the first place) and has no problem abusing his authority in getting some revenge.

This situation is analogous to the one EllenBeth Wachs, Lakeland’s most noteworthy atheist, finds herself in. She’s suing the city of Lakeland for their exclusively Christian “pre-meeting” prayers as well as potentially pursuing the same against the Polk County School Board for the same reason. Ms. Wachs has also drawn attention to Sheriff Grady Judd for his act of donating county sports equipment to eight Christian churches. This sports equipment had been refurbished with money from a county credit card, coordinated by Polk County deputies who were working on the taxpayer dime, as well as cost taxpayers in less obvious ways like the cost of fuel spent transporting said equipment and the inmates who were going to install the equipment, and etc.

EllenBeth Wachs has angered many local officials and they’re taking whatever opportunity they can to hit back at her by arresting her on trumped up charges and allegations. For a brief rundown of what Ms. Wachs is facing, read here, here, and here.


No, Sheriff, You Don’t Get To Aid Your Religion With Tax-Payer Property


This is a story from my neck of the woods. Sheriff Grady Judd, who’s proven himself to be somewhat of a publicity whore, has, in an attempt to make jail less “fun” for the inmates and less “appealing” to potential inmates, violated both the United States and Florida Constitution by donating basketball equipment from Polk county jails to eight local churches (as of writing this, only one church has received the equipment; the other seven have been chosen but have yet to receive said equipment). Apparently, no one who works in the Polk County Sheriff’s Office is familiar with the very law they’re tasked with enforcing. According to Article 1, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution, “No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.” Luckily, Atheists of Florida, a network of activists in support of church/state separation, have written a letter to the Sheriff’s Office reminding them of the law. Somehow, I doubt the law is going to stop Sheriff Grady Judd from believing he can do this…

As can be expected, the response from many towards the Atheists of Florida has been almost entirely idiotic. The usual cries of “these atheists need to mind their own business” and “I’m so sick of atheists complaining about blah blah blah” abound. Being the curious person I am, I have a couple of questions to those who are upset with the Atheists of Florida for reminding the Sheriff that he and his office are not exempt from obeying the law. What would you be saying if the recipients of our tax-payer funded sporting equipment went to eight non-Christian places of worship, for example a mosque, synagogue, or temple (Buddhist or Hindu), and et cetera? What would you be saying if the tax-payer funded sporting equipment went to one of any of them? What about to an atheist group? If your answer was that you wouldn’t like it, why, then, the double-standard? If your answer was that you had no problem with it, don’t you think it wrong of Sheriff Grady Judd to donate the equipment to only Christian churches? Don’t you think a synagogue or mosque would appreciate the sporting equipment also?