Plainfield, NJ Mayor Goes After City Council Members for Not Praying or Properly Saluting Flag

In Plainfield, New Jersey, mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs is having a “feud” with city council member Rebecca Williams:

Rebecca Williams

What is Williams doing that’s such a travesty to the city?

First off, councilwoman at-large Rebecca Williams “grunts” during meetings, says Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs and even worse, the mayor says, Williams doesn’t salute the American flag.

But she didn’t stop there. Robinson-Briggs repeated her comments, first made in a public meeting, to the local newspaper and, upping the ante, added that some local veterans were “offended by that kind of behavior.” The mayor says Williams doesn’t participate in prayer either.

As far as the grunting goes, that’s their business.

But not saluting the flag? It’s symbolic and irrelevant. Who cares.

Not praying? That’s separation of church and state. Prayer doesn’t belong in a city council meeting. Save that for home or church.

Williams, by the way, is a Christian.

“There are many municipal councils that don’t pledge or pray before a meeting. I don’t see why it’s necessary,” Williams said. “There have been residents who have come to the council to say it’s rather superfluous.”

That… makes so much sense.

Even though the mayor won’t admit it, it seems like a lot of this stems from bad blood from other contentious issues, but Williams isn’t taking the bait and caving in:

[Williams has] been on the council more than year, and no one ever mentioned the issue to her. And, despite a lot of personal attacks, she doesn’t want to explain herself — she has a right to religion, and a right to keep that religion private, she says.

“I’ve been getting e-mails from all across the country. People telling me ‘get the hell out of our county, you’re not an American, you should step down.’” she said. “I haven’t responded to any of this.”

Without knowing the politics behind everything else, I can at least say this: Williams is doing nothing wrong by not saluting the flag or saying the Pledge. Other council members — and the mayor herself — would be wise to follow her lead. To suggest anyone is any less patriotic because of these actions is slanderous.

(Thanks to Tom for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Jeff Johnson

    Sheesh, sounds like that mayor really need to do some serious re-prioritizing. 

    Must be a speech meet day!

  • Bananafaced

    Wonder what is more important to the Mayor, the city’s business or her agenda?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Margaret-Whitestone/100001682409207 Margaret Whitestone

    She’s more of an American than any of the naysayers.  She understands that religious pandering has no place in government functions.  

  • Zeitnull

    if you’d have kept the british monarch as your sovereign, you wouldn’t have the kerfuffle with the flag.  The morons like to have something to pay obeisance to.

    • Mrs Schaarschmidt

      Nothing to pay obesisance to my @ss:disqus .  When I lived in England, “God Save the Queen” was publicly sung before every event I went to.  Including community theater events and public speaking competitions.
       

      • http://twitter.com/RantBot5000 RantBot Grikmeer

        How long ago did you live here? I haven’t ever heard that song outside of events featuring/for Elizabeth II and international sports events…

  • NewEnglandBob

    I sent an email to that mayor, 
     Sharon Robinson-Briggs informing her that she is in violation of the constitution

  • Niall O’Driscoll

    NOT TRUE ABOUT BRITAIN or any other European country I know of ( and I’ve been to many ! ). Visitors to America are constantly amazed at Americans constant flag- waving , pledges , and other “over-the-top” signs of allegiance . It’s as if Americans are very unsure of themselves ,or what country they belong to , and must constantly remind themselves ……

  • Coyotenose

    I thought that saluting the flag was only appropriate for specific groups: military personnel, veterans, Boy Scouts, and such. Am I wrong about that?

  • Gunstargreen

    Because in the United States “Patriot” means blind nationalism and a good Christian upbringing. And then they’ll go and complain about communist nations for doing the same thing.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    At my city’s council meetings, grunting is often the most intelligent and productive thing said.

    It looks like implying that a rival politician is godless or flagless is the new easy way to sick the mob on them, just as calling them a commie used to be in the 1950′s and 1960′s. Demagoguery has become so prevalent in politics these last few years that it’s surprising when it is not practiced.

    If Mayor Robinson-Briggs wants to cluck disapprovingly at someone’s inadequate piety, she should quit her job and become a minister.

    • Davemaijala

      “…grunting is often the most intelligent and productive thing said.” Brilliant!

  • Anonymous-Sam

    I’ll salute the flag when America stands for something I can respect. Right now, America stands for hypocrisy and repression. It’s a place where the police murder innocent people and ignore murderers. It’s a place where corporations can decide who lives and who dies by signing a piece of paper. It’s a place where citizenship rights can be suspended by pointing a finger.

    It’s a place where all these things are true and the majority of members in Congress will argue how these things are fully justified and how we should be grateful to live in such a wonderful place.

    Salute the flag? No thank you.

  • Deusexmarine21

    As a former active duty Marine, I was required to salute the flag WHEN I was outside AND in uniform. The only time we saluted indoors was when we were “under-arms” i.e. carrying a weapon, and even that had exemptions (mostly for churches, go figure). That being the case, I can’t for the life of me imagine service members having a problem with a civilian not saluting the flag.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OAUXAA362EXWLYVMPJOKLFB5JQ Incipient Madness

       Thank you for your service. And it’s always nice when one who served can point out our jingoistic excesses.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

       Thanks you. 12 years Army, and I could care less about a piece of cloth.

    • http://www.bynkii.com/ John C. Welch

      Indeed. I didn’t spend 7 years in the USAF, most of that in N.D. on the B-1B so that someone could insinuate I did so to force people to salute the flag.

      It was about helping make sure everyone in this country had the right to (not) salute a friggin’ flag if they want. Personally, I always find the over the top nationalism a bit embarrassing, and it’s most common from people who never even THOUGHT about signing up. 

      If they’re that insecure about not being in the military, join Habitats for Humanity, put that energy to work helping those without homes have one. Volunteer at a food bank to help feed the hungry. Know someone looking for a job? Help them find a good one.

      The uniform is far less important than the actions, and I never want my service to be used as a club against anyone. It’s insulting.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OAUXAA362EXWLYVMPJOKLFB5JQ Incipient Madness

     Keep in mind that she may even be a member of a Christian group that has hang ups against oath taking and idolatry. I had a close acquaintance with a Mennonite once. No pledge, no oath.

    Gotta say I have a problem with oaths and salutes too. 

  • Arthur Whitmer

    Prayers before government meetings of any kind are a direct violation of the separation of church and state and religious freedom.   The mayor should be recalled.

  • JETS

    Plainfield NJ is one of the most mismanaged cities in the US. The tax collector is completely incapable (go look at the office) and the town administration is completely moronic. 

  • alex toliver

    there seem to be a mistake regarding mr dave wynn and the recs dept regarging people soliciting monies from anyone what i said at the last council meeting was that i want out to crown caddlac to pass out  palm cards as i start talking to the manager he TOLD me another person had been there asking for money i told hom i did now come there asking for funds but to pass out flyers.now there was other merchants that ask me could they give money to the event i told them i didnt know and if need be they could call mr wynn and he could direct them but i never said to anyony that mr wynn ask me to seek fund from anyone!!!!


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