Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ocean City Ignores Complaints About Extremist Speaker & Plays Dumb About His History // Ideas for A New Vacation Spot?

UPDATE: Progressive Maryland just blasted the Ocean City petition to their members: [ SIGN TODAY ]. Over 580 signers and counting!

Maryland Juice has another update on the rapidly evolving story over Ocean City's disgraceful "Prayer Breakfast." The event is in less than 48 hours, so let me catch you up quickly:
  • Ocean City's Mayor hosts an annual "prayer breakfast."
  • This year's annual guest is truly an extremist (ie: talks about Hitler and Obama, no 1st amendment rights for all religions, was a General during the "War on Terror" and publicly called it a religious war, said W. Bush was annointed by God, etc).
  • Hundreds of Marylanders are now calling on the Mayor & City Council to respond.

Today, Ocean City's elected officials broke their silence, and it appears that their response is to play dumb. Delmarva Now reports:
The Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast will go ahead as planned despite scrutiny from organizations whose members oppose the views its keynote speaker, retired Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, holds about Islam.... 
He has said there should be no mosques built in America; that Islam is a “totalitarian way of life”; and that the creed should not be protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment....

The event carries the mayor’s name, but is not funded or endorsed by the city. It was founded in 1990 by Bruce Spangler, a former Ocean City police lieutenant who organizes the event each year and is in charge of acquiring speakers, a process Meehan does not take part in. Meehan is an invited guest, and his role is to welcome attendees and introduce other elected officials and dignitaries who are in attendance, the mayor said.

Councilwoman Mary Knight said she had first heard of Boykin's views in early December, and that she had been assured he would speak appropriately at the breakfast. In the past couple days, she has received more than 300 emails from people about the event, most of which are forwarded versions of the emails circulated about it by the two protesting organizations. Councilman Brent Ashley’s inbox had more than 170 messages.

Knight said Tuesday she is not sure whether she attend — she hadn’t bought a ticket yet. Ashley said he has a prior engagement, and will not attend the breakfast.

Meehan and Spangler both said they don’t expect Boykin to say anything radical, only to tell a story of the role God has played in his life....

Wow. Ocean City's story would be believable if they hadn't specifically advertised their speaker as an "expert on Islam." Not only that, they said his "notoriety" would help drive turnout to the event to put the country back on "biblical values." They also scheduled the event later than they usually do and are running the event longer than normal, because they are really excited about their speaker. The original Delmarva Now article that advertised the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast stated:
Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast Director Bruce Spangler expressed excitement this week about Lieutenant General William G. “Jerry” Boykin of the US Army, retired coming to Ocean City next month.
“Talking to people that know this guy, they say he’s a soldiers-soldier … he isn’t somebody that lives from behind but is upfront leading,” Spangler said....

“He is an expert on Islamic history,” Spangler said.

The Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast will be held Jan. 26 at the Clarion Hotel, which is a little later than normal but was the first available date for Boykin to participate....

“Our speaker for this year’s 22nd annual event is in much demand throughout the country and has been seen on all major networks, as recently as last week.  He has an exciting testimony that you do not want to miss,” Spangler said....

This year the event will also last a little longer than normal giving Boykin plenty of opportunity to share his knowledge and experience with those in attendance....

“I think we will do very well this year because of his notoriety,” Spangler said....

Spangler said the event serves as a spiritual reminder for many.

“This country was founded on biblical values and we are getting away from that,” Spangler said.

“People often misquote the first amendment by saying its ‘freedom from religion’, and not ‘freedom of religion’. We are slowly killing the ‘freedom of religion’.”

Today, former Equality Maryland director Dan Furmansky sent Maryland Juice the following petition calling on Ocean City's Mayor and City Council to remove their name from the event. I encourage you to sign the petition below. In the meantime, anyone know of any more welcoming beach spots on the Shore?

Dear Juice,

Today, as part of our Thirty Days of Love, we are talking about Community. Well, there’s something happening in my home — Maryland — that I know you’ll agree is something we should speak up about.

Ocean City, Maryland is a family-friendly destination for all Americans. Unless, it appears, you are American Muslims. The Mayor of Ocean City is hosting a notorious anti-Muslim speaker at the annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast in two days.

Retired Lieutenant General William G. “Jerry” Boykin has been continuously outspoken in his views that Islam is not a religion, but “a totalitarian way of life,” and that it “should not be protected under the First Amendment.” He has also stated that Muslims should not be allowed to build mosques in America, that there be no interfaith dialogue between Christians and Muslims, and that Christians must go on the offensive against Islam.

A prayer breakfast in the Mayor's name, and attended by the city council, is not a place where this sort of intolerance should be promoted.

Ask Mayor Meehan and the Ocean City City Council to have his name removed from the event, refuse to attend with Boykin, oppose the bigoted views of his guest, and support the inclusion of all Americans, including Muslim Americans.

Send a message today: www.change.org/petitions/ocean-city-maryland-home-of-religious-bigotry
The Mayor's Prayer Breakfast is only two days away, and we want as many people as possible to sign this petition, so after you sign, please tell your friends.

Dan Furmansky
Campaign Manager
Standing on the Side of Love

P.S. This Thursday at 5pm we are hosting a Collective Visioning Webinar on the Story of Us, Story of Now with Linda Stout, Founder & Director of Spirit in Action.  If you would like to participate in the Occupy the Present, Change the Future Webinar, please sign up here

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