North Dakota’s Christian Bike Ride

What’s with prayer being forced into public places all of a sudden?

The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department runs the 500-mile Cycling Around North Dakota in Sakakawea Country (CANDISC) tour.

One Minnesota man has a problem with it, though:

Morgan Christian, 54, of St. Paul, rode the 500-mile CANDISC tour three consecutive years. He objected last summer to a prayer said before a meal at a public high school gym in Turtle Lake, one of several host communities along the route.

Christian expressed his objections to the minister and ride director and in subsequent e-mails to the State Parks and Recreation Department. He said he expected an apology but instead received a letter from the bike tour committee telling him he wasn’t welcome back.

Yes, how dare he complain about something illegal.

North Dakota Parks and Recreation Director Mark Zimmerman said Christian’s attitude was the issue, not his religious beliefs. Ride director Hillary Nelson said Christian disrespected the ride and the town.

“This was Turtle Lake’s way of representing their community,” she said. “If he didn’t like what was going on, he could have left.”

He disrespected the ride? He’s done it three times in a row! He’s only saying what others may be too afraid to point out, and he’s being punished for it.

Zimmerman and Nelson are handing this in the worst possible way.

The ACLU and FFRF have been notified. I suspect if North Dakota wants to keep this event going, they’ll be stopping the public prayers before long.

(Thanks to Neil for the link!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1606980149 Robbie

    I like how there seems to be more and more of these small, some would say petty, complaints of government endorsed prayer. The more we speak out in a respectful and insightful way, the more our message will get out. Way to go Morgan!

  • Reginald Selkirk

    North Dakota Parks and Recreation Director Mark Zimmerman said Christian’s attitude was the issue, not his religious beliefs. Ride director Hillary Nelson said Christian disrespected the ride and the town.

    Translation: we are God-bothering religious bigots, but at least we are ashamed to admit it.

  • Sellers_as_Quilty

    “This was Turtle Lake’s way of representing their community,” she said. “If he didn’t like what was going on, he could have left.”

    This says it all. They feel like, hey, we were just “representing our community.” Apparently, they think that either non-religious people don’t exist in their community, OR, they think non-religious people don’t deserve representation. Nice, real nice.

    Time and again the courts have ruled that this kind of thing violates the Establishment Clause.

  • http://www.frommormontoatheist.blogspot.com Leilani

    Oh for the love of Zeus. Why is it deemed okay for these Christian folks to do their form of spell casting and witch craft during public events?

    If he didn’t like it, he could have left? Really? Wow, what a way to ‘do unto others’.

    Maybe next year all the bigoted, law breaking North Dakotans could just bike out of my country. ;)

  • Kage no Kami

    I live in North Dakota. Its ridiculously religious here, though not in the fire and brimstone sense really. Its strange, coming from California as I did, to live in a place where the churches are only outnumbered by the bars. It would be nice to have more of an irreligious presence up here, so good on this guy.

  • http://www.twitter.com/anattakarma Brandon

    Representing their community has nothing to do with praying to your own god. That is a personal opinion and belief.
    Are they trying to save face by not letting a nontheist go on their bike ride? It’s a freakin’ bike ride for crying out loud. It’s not like this guy is spreading lies and slander about their religion!!!!

    New Rule: If you’re going to have a community bike ride, make sure you let the ENTIRE community participate and not just the people who believe the same bullsh*t that you do!

  • http://sixblindmenuniverse.blogspot.com/ vininger (Erin)

    Apparently, they think that either non-religious people don’t exist in their community, OR, they think non-religious people don’t deserve representation. Nice, real nice.

    I grew up there (in a tiny community not too far from Turtle Lake), and I can tell you that this is exactly what they think. North Dakotans will be quick to tell you that they are a state of good, old-fashioned Christian folks (and PROUD of it). I grew up being taught that “good person” is synonymous with “Christian.” The one bastion of semi-sanity is Fargo…you know, the “big city.”

  • Dan W

    It really bugs me that so many Christians in this country think the have the right to force their beliefs on everyone, and that they can exclude people who object to this sort of bullshit. If this event is run by a government agency, then Morgan definitely should sue about it.

  • Larry

    so does not expressing a religious belief mean that you are anti-religion or just afraid to express it due to atheists taking control of the government? why can’t we all just get along? perhaps they should have an atheist bike ride. it would be very popular, and get lots of attention.

  • Laurie

    Once again, I’m ashamed and embarassed to be from North Dakota, (although I don’t live there anymore)!

  • Christine

    I am proud to be a Christian from North Dakota! You people piss and moan just because you can! I love GOD and am proud to say that in our country! Try going overseas and bash thier god and see what happens to you! Only in this country can people like you bitch! A webpage on bitching about religion, you have way too much time on your hands!

  • Morgan Christian

    I was listening to NPR today and heard about how German folks are all in a tizzy about privacy. So just for the heck of it I googled my name and found this site. “Christine” must be having a slow day because this all died away months ago.
    My “leave it to beaver” moment,(did I learn my lesson?) Was to try to be more circumspect about the path I chose to vent my concerns to the authorities. It needs to be said that the “candisc committee” wont specify exactly what my behavior and attitude were that got me kicked off the ride. When talking to other past candisc riders, they talk of how some pretty nasty things run wild when folks are tired and cranky after a long day in the saddle. In my case there seems to be a bit of reactionary piling on. A story about my asking a neighbor to use their backyard because I couldn’t find suitable space in the school grounds is really ludicrous.
    Anyway,it was nice to read some comments that support my position. It was really rough, some of the trolls,(christine?) had a field day dragging me through the streets on their way to the town dump. Part of my problem comes from not doing my homework before the Bismarck Tribune interview where I failed to make clear that I was not opposed to prayer by others, just having no use for it myself. My complaint was about having the minister of the congregation that put on the for profit turkey dinner, get on the P.A. system of a public school and recite a “grace invocation” that included the words,”and we ask this in the name of our lord jesus christ”. The minister, a Bill Oliver, denies having said this. Not that it matters much at this point.
    So I’am just putting this all behind me and moving on with my life and learning more about non-belief.


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