- Sermons, Praying and Threats Ensue (Video Evidence Included) (Updated)
Greencastle, PA – The Greencastle-Antrim School Board apparently has a problem with the United States Constitution. Mr. Ernest Perce V, acting initially as the Pennsylvania State Director for American Atheists, Inc. and a long-time (and s0metimes controversial) activist in Pennsylvania, had received multiple complaints about inappropriate prayers being recited at school board meetings. In fact, Mr. Perce had personally attended one of these meetings to verify these complaints. He had personally witnessed the recital of “The Lord’s Prayer” by the Board. The prayer had been recited after the meeting had already convened. As well, not only did the Board invoke the prayer,
But they led it, as well…
In a letter to the Greencastle-Antrim School Board, Mr. Perce asked the School Board to keep their sectarian prayers to non-official times. Here is a link to the PDF file of the letter.
Mr. Perce’s request that they exercise their religious freedoms without encroaching the Constitution went summarily ignored. Mr. Perce returned with Mr. Carl Silverman, who was representing the Pennsylvania Non-Believers. Mr. Silverman and Mr. Perce addressed the Board regarding the issue, explaining the details of the problem. Ironically, this was done after the board recited the prayer. The entirety of the event was captured on video, and you can see there was no animosity, no anger, just an explanation of what the Constitution says, and the possible ramifications against the School Board if the prayers continue.
Video Number One…
Meeting in the Name of Jesus
The School Board, once again, ignored the request to cease and desist with their illegal praying at a municipal meeting. However, it was required that the issue be brought up at the next meeting. The support for the continuation of the sectarian prayers at the meeting was overwhelming. The room was packed with people, and judging from the series of prayers and sermons that ensued, it became obvious that the atmosphere was getting increasingly hostile to Perce and Silverman. As well, the responses by the members of the community were evidence of a wide-spread ignorance of the law, as well as support for the continued bigotry and discrimination against anyone who is not a member of the Christian religion.
To make matters worse, before the meeting took place, Mr. Perce was addressed by several individuals whose comments can only be interpreted as threats of physical violence. The following video begins with several threats to Mr. Perce, and continues with a series of sermons and prayers before the decision is rendered. What you are about to see is disturbing.
Video Number Two…
Antrim School District decision on Sectarian Prayer
Here’s a video consisting of ABC News27’s coverage of the story. Their commentary is at the beginning, then a clip from the first video I posted above. The commentary from the news broadcast continues at the 6:00 mark.
Video Number Three…
Greencastle-Antrim School Board Prays The Lords Prayer
The idea that the United States was founded as a Christian Nation pervades a majority of the US Citizenry. This is largely due to ignorance. The United States has never been a Christian nation, nor was it founded on Christian or Biblical principles. The founding fathers were not all Christians, either. What you have witnessed in this small town is indicative of a much larger problem, and it is why those of us who function as activists remain on the front lines.
We are, and must, remain – at all costs – a free nation. Anne Gaylor, Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation points out:
“There can be no religious freedom without the freedom to dissent.”
As Americans, we must continue to uphold the principles of individual freedom that our country was founded upon. As Atheists, we must work against the real enemies of the state, those who would see our great Nation transformed into a Theocracy. Our secular laws are based on the secular humanist principle of “justice for all” and they provide protection against crimes that our secular government enforces through a secular criminal justice system.
The religious fanatics are ignoring history, law and fairness in their efforts to turn America into the Christian nation that it never was – and it is very apparent from the video you watched, as well as the plethora of news stories, personal accounts and historical records, that there are many who would choose to use physical violence in the name of their god.
The fact is, fundamentalist Christians would like nothing more than to deny the constitutional freedoms that are guaranteed to all Americans, including non-Christian religious minorities and unbelievers. What they refuse to acknowledge is that history shows that only harm comes of uniting church and state.
UPDATE 09/12/2012 – 1245 hrs
Carl Silverman, of Pennsylvania Nonbelievers, contacted me with the following:
“After noticing prayer listed on the internet agenda for the school board, I was the one who initially attended a Greencastle board meeting and witnessed the prayer firsthand. I had lived near that area for many years and was familiar with the religious reputation of the community.
After talking to local residents at a Pennsylvania Nonbelievers booth at a local festival, and by email from those who were unhappy with the prayers, but were too fearful to get involved, Ernest, Brian Fields, and I went to a later meeting and told the Board about the problem.
At this latest meeting, with the 200-300 Christians present, they wouldn’t allow Ernest or I (Brian didn’t attend) to comment, since we aren’t residents there. This is legal under Pennsylvania law, so we just observed and recorded.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has taken the lead in this issue. American Atheists, Inc., is no longer involved. Pennsylvania Nonbelievers does not have a legal staff, and we appreciate all that FFRF has done on this issue”
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