Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Krieger Doesn’t Care if Atheists Get Harassed by Christians

Back in December, I posted about a Ten Commandments monument that sits outside Valley High School in New Kensington, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh):

Three plaintiffs (including two students) filed a lawsuit against that monument with the help of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. They wanted to remove that obvious promotion of Christianity from the school. Initially, though, there was a stumbling block: In order to proceed with the case, the students were not allowed to hide behind pseudonyms. They had to let everyone know who they were.

In other words, instead of proceeding with the case on the basis of merit and defending the Constitution, they had to expose themselves to harassment from their classmates and community. As we saw in Jessica Ahlquist‘s case, people are not very kind to perceived threats against their religious privilege.

There were already threats coming to the third plaintiff (a parent in the district), so a judge agreed the students could use aliases. And all was well and good.

But now, a state representative is disregarding all of that. He wants young atheists to deal with the consequences if they fight back against monuments dedicated to his faith. He has written a bill — House Bill 922 — that would no longer allow those students to remain anonymous:

Rep. Tim Krieger

Rep. Tim Krieger (R-Delmont) said he introduced House Bill 922 in response to two lawsuits filed on behalf of anonymous plaintiffs by the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Krieger said the [Ten Commandments] monuments have been fixtures outside the schools for many years without drawing any complaints or controversy.

“Passage of House Bill 922 would guarantee that no individual or organization will be able to use our state courts as a weapon to attack the right of Pennsylvania citizens to display religious symbols in public places while hiding in the shadows,” Krieger said in a news release Wednesday.

Yeah! How dare anyone stop Christians in the majority from putting up pro-Christian monuments anywhere they want?!

Actually, the news release in question contained a statement far more appalling than that one:

Passage of House Bill 922 would require that the party bringing any lawsuit designed to suppress, remove or inhibit the display or use of religious symbols in public locations would not be allowed to proceed anonymously, unless it can be clearly demonstrated that the primary litigant(s) would suffer serious physical harm due to appearing in court.

Did you catch that?

Students could not remain anonymous if they challenged a Christian monument solely on the basis of a Constitutional violation. They would either have to be threatened first or have proof that they would get physically harmed if they filed a lawsuit.

It’s wrong on so many levels.

I’ll say it again: Jessica Ahlquist filed a lawsuit against a Christian symbol in Rhode Island and this is only a sampling of what she had to deal with:

And Rep. Krieger’s response to that is basically, “I don’t care. That’s her problem. Illegal promotion of Christianity in a public school is more important to me than the harassment students like Jessica have to deal with.”

That’s hardly an exaggeration. U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry, who said that the FFRF plaintiffs could remain anonymous, explained his reasoning for that decision this way:

Judge McVerry found there had been significant threats made to the suit’s only named plaintiff, [parent] Marie Schaub.

“A number of threats referenced in her affidavit have extended beyond ad hominem rhetoric, although they certainly appear to include threats of violence and ostracism,” he said.

He agreed with the plaintiffs that the as-yet-unnamed plaintiffs should be able to proceed anonymously to avoid any danger of harm.

The judge was protecting the students from harm and threats of violence and Krieger is going through with this anyway.

How much hate do you have to have in your heart to care so little about students who are fighting to uphold the Constitution?

Krieger — the only person who’s taken an oath to that effect — should be on their side defending them. Instead, he’s taunting students who want to rightfully challenge governmental promotion of religion by trying to make it a requirement that they use their real names in any future lawsuit.

It’s absolutely despicable.

Krieger won’t admit any of this, of course. In his legislation — House Bill 922 — he talks indirectly about the issue of threats:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, in a suit to suppress, remove or otherwise inhibit the display or use of religious symbols in public locations, including public schools, the court shall not permit a party to participate by pseudonym and shall not seal the records in the case absent a showing, by clear and convincing evidence, that a party would otherwise suffer serious physical harm.

In other words, you can only remain anonymous if you have proof that you’re going to be beaten up.

So does a Twitter threat count?

How about a Facebook threat?

How about a student who says he wants to get a gun when he sees you?

What constitutes “clear and convincing evidence”? Does the ever-increasing backlog of threats other students have received for filing similar lawsuits count? Krieger never makes that clear. And that’s the problem. I guess he wants to see the black eye you got from a “loving” Christian before he allows you to keep your anonymity.

Here’s something else disappointing: HB 922 has dozens of co-sponsors (all but one are Republicans).

Justin Vacula explains the obvious consequences if this legislation passes:

fewer individuals would likely be willing to participate in church/state lawsuits because of fear of retaliation, backlash from local communities, and other concerns. It is not uncommon for church/state plaintiffs to receive a deluge of hate mail, ridicule from the community, and threats. For these reasons and more, people want to remain anonymous and be represented by organizations in lawsuits.

Public schools are not a place for Christian monuments. When there are students willing to challenge those monuments in court, they deserve praise and support. Instead, we live in a society where the brave students who want to fight back have to remain anonymous out of fear of getting beaten up or harassed.

Krieger and his co-sponsors think anonymity is overrated. They want to silence those students. They know that if they force students to reveal themselves in cases like these, fewer students will challenge their Christian authority.

That’s what bullies do. They silence people. They force people not to challenge them out of fear of the consequences.

At an age when we should be teaching students how to stand up for their rights and challenge authority when it’s warranted, Krieger wants to suppress those ideas.

FFRF has also weighed in on the matter:

These legislators need to put their religious views aside and understand that protecting children from harm is a paramount interest of the state,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. She noted the long, documented history of threats and reprisal against Establishment Clause plaintiffs, most recently against Jessica Ahlquist, who won a federal court ruling against religion in her Rhode Island high school.

“One would hope that elected legislators would have a basic understanding of government and know that they lack the ability to regulate the First Amendment and the federal judiciary,” added Gaylor.

Krieger seems impervious to reason, but you can let him know what you think by (politely, respectfully) contacting him on Facebook or through the PA legislature.

Better yet, though, if you live in Pennsylvania, call or write your representatives and tell them not to support this awful legislation. Atheists — and students of all backgrounds — should be able to challenge religious overreach in the public schools. The Ten Commandments monuments are just one example of that. These students are not taking away anybody’s religious freedom by challenging Christian privilege; they’re making sure that public schools are a neutral space for everybody.

If Krieger read the Constitution, he might even join their side.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/usman.bello.125 Usman Bello

    Was it really necessary to put the (R) next to his name? That was pretty much a given.

    • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

      Just lets you know there’s no big surprise this time, so you don’t have to check yourself or go from habitual prejudice. And there is the one (D) co-sponsor.

      • Tommykey69

        Agreed. Plus the Rhode Island politician who called Jessica Ahlquist an evil little thing was a Democrat.

    • ecolt

      That’s just standard procedure when reporting on government. Although, yes, it is a given.

    • Sinfanti

      Don’t give the Dems too much credit. The lesser of two evils is still evil.

  • C Peterson

    As horrible as the legislation, its motives, and its sponsors are, this doesn’t seem like something that would have any teeth. I think there is already clear legal precedent for the reasons that plaintiffs can remain anonymous (and those reasons are already strictly limited). I don’t see this law stopping judges from allowing unidentified plaintiffs where there is evidence that openness would place them in some kind of jeopardy.

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    This may be a stupidly nigh-meaningless gesture. The bill is a Pennsylvania would-be-law, which (when/if passed) can’t bind judges of the Federal Courts where such establishment/exercise cases are usually fought. It might affect a case brought in state court under Section 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, and it might be taken as advisory by a Federal Judge, both of which are a non-trivial problem, but it seems unlikely to do diddly about the bulk of cases.

  • johnl

    I grew up near there and I’m ashamed of it. Here’s what I posted to his FB page which I’m sure will get deleted.

    //This is perhaps one of the lowliest, scummiest things I’ve ever read coming out of a state lawmakers office. Have you no decency sir!? You’d would rather put peoples lives at risk, and not just adults but CHILDREN’s, to propagate your fairytales in our government against what our Founding Fathers intended rather than let it stand up to honest criticism by ensuring that those who oppose it get lynched! You, your children, your wife and your entire community should be ashamed of what you’re attempting. I know I’m ashamed to admit that we grew up in the same area. May whatever deity you
    claim to worship have more mercy on you that what you’re showing the good citizens of your community.//

    • NewDawn2006

      It did. I have looked through all the comments after posting mine and no dissenting comments appeared outside of the ones that ones that were made within the last 30 minutes.

      • http://www.facebook.com/robnorthampton Rob Clay

        If everyone keeps re-posting this message to his Facebook, as I just did, he may start to get the message!!

        • NewDawn2006

          I’m in. I’ve been keeping an eye on my post. As soon as I see it has gone away I will repost it again under every article on his Facebook page relating to this legislation.

        • TheBlackCat13

          I would be very surprised if he didn’t already get the message. He just doesn’t care. We aren’t his idea of “true americans”, so we don’t deserve any protections.

          The very fact that he singled out this change as only being for cases regarding religious objects on public property proves he knows exactly what sort of effect this is going to have. If he really thought the ability to stay anonymous was really a problem, he would have made the legislation more general.

          But he singled out one type of lawsuit he doesn’t like, which shows he doesn’t really think that being anonymous is bad, he just wants the names of people bringing cases he doesn’t like.

  • A3Kr0n

    If people didn’t vote for people like Tim Krieger we wouldn’t have this problem. Then again, what choices were there? Christian IDiot #1, #2, or #3?

  • onamission5

    But if Kreiger’s fellow xians can’t harass teenaged secularists with death threats day and night, how will they ever show those godless heathens that Jesus loves them?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

      Don’t forget that not allowing him to persecute others is persecuting him.

  • El Nopo

    My two cents to his email:

    Mr. Krieger;

    Your proposed House Bill 922 is nothing short of state sanctioned bullying and threat based on an Unconstitutional attitude toward Christian superiority.

    How you could possibly want to allow children to be open to threats or worse is among the most immoral of things that could be done. Sir, you need to go back and read the Constitution and get a full understanding of what the Establishment Clause means (that’s Amendment 1 should you not have the knowledge).

    Should you require real world examples of what happens when children stand up for the Constitution in the face of Christians’ bullying and threats, you need turn only to the close state of Rhode Island and Jessica Ahlquist.

    People like you are the problem sir, and your trying to force this through the Pennsylvania State House is distasteful at best, immoral at mid-level and dangerous at worst.

    XXXXX XXXXXXXX-XXXX

    Patriot, Atheist and Activist

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

      I wish I could vote this up 1,000,000 times

    • http://www.facebook.com/kingofnothing2514 Charlie R. Hamer

      great letter, If you don’t mind I am going to copy and paste it and send again.
      thank you

      • El Nopo

        Please do!

    • vincent findley

      Once again the attention whore from R.I. Ms. Ahlquist is brought to the forefront. Idle threats is all they were and as been said many times by my cousin, taken care of a few days after the note was discovered. That’s why we pay the police, let them do there jobs. If they are such activists for the cause show themselves. if you can’t take the heat then don’t take it to the kitchen. For pete sake are you going to give a restraining order to everyone who has been told in jest “I’ll smack you in the face!” Idle f…..king threats is all they are. That school has been functioning normally since a week after the incident and now you Godless Stalinists are using it(the incident) as a crutch. They should come to the forefront and they might be able to get a free education like the coached activist Ms. Ahlquist did. The last 6 words in that amendment have a “comma”(” a mark of punctuation used for indicating a division in a sentence”) before it. , “or prohibit the free exercise thereof”. What part of that don’t you Godless Stalinists understand. If the founders wanted it any other way they would have said the free exercise thereof except monuments in front of schools, banners in high schools etc.etc.

      • Grammar Cops

        Hey Gabby Grammar, you said:

        “That’s why we pay the police, let them do there jobs.”

        SInce you seem to have a very impotent attempt at an angry erection, let me be the first to explain the difference between “there”, “they’re”, and “their”…..

        What you meant to say in your grammar pointing post was “their” jobs. So right off the bat, you have an epic FAIL.

        The proper use of these three synonyms would be thus:

        If THERE are any death threats issued to an atheist child fighting for THEIR constitutional rights, and they wish to protect themselves through anonymity to hide from people like you, THERE is a need for it. If you threaten or try to spin with BS like this, you can be damn sure THERE will be hell to pay. And the politicians who seek to try and hide behind craven legislation like this that has been proposed at THEIR disgusting attempt at christian dominance….well two things: THEY”RE foul disgusting people and THERE will be *ahem* hell to pay.

        That lesson was free Wadsworth.

        • vincent findley

          Why ty oh wise one(oh sorry thank you). I didn’t know proper grammar was needed to talk to you Godless stalinists. I must be right if the best you can do is correct my grammar. That was a very angry response, Maybe “Atheist” CHILDREN(minors) shouldn’t be bringing forth civil suits. THEIR(ooh goody goody i got it right) wimpy parents should do it for them seeing THEY’RE responsible for them until THEY’RE 18. They could drive them over THERE(how am i doing?) to the courthouse and show them first hand the judicial process, but noooo just like Ms. Ahlquist they become pawns for THEIR parents and the ACLU or FFRF because THEY’RE wimps(and that’s not the word I’d like to use). Are you one of those parents based on that angry response? Listen snappy, next time you correct some one or somebody(you tell me which one should I have used to satisfy your penchant for proper grammar), go all the way. THERE was a few other things wrong with my response.

        • vincent findley

          Also are you prejudice? How about any child fighting for THEIR constitutional rights!!

          • allein

            The word is “prejudiced” and if you’re going to be the one to start out with the condescending “lesson” on commas, you might want to get the rest of your English correct, is all.

      • allein

        The freedom of religion applies to individual citizens, not government entities. The school is a government entity and the employees of the school are acting as agents of that government entity when doing their jobs (or installing monuments to their own personal religion on school grounds). But you know this, I’m sure.
        Idle threats or not, a minor should not be required to open themselves up to such harrassment just for pointing out that their school is in violation of the constitution.

        • vincent findley

          Then don’t have a CHILD!!! do an ADULTS!!! bidding!!! Should my teenage daughter go to a courthouse every time she’s subjected to idle threats because her views differ from a non-theists’(did I put it in the right place “Grammar Cop”) and get restraining orders?, just because somebody said I’m going to smack you? If that was the case in life we’d have millions of cases a day in a courthouse. If you let a child bring an action like this(whether the fallout of it’s right or wrong) you tell them what could happen and get them ready for it. You are right they shouldn’t be opened up to such harassment, but they are. You contact the police and let them do their jobs.

          • allein

            She wasn’t doing any adult’s “bidding”; she realized the banner was a violation and did something about it. People said a lot worse to her than simply threatening to “smack” her. If I recall correctly, the police felt the threats were serious enough that she needed a police escort just to get around school for a while. What lovely Christian people she lives among.

            • vincent findley

              Lets get something straight,she was doing an adults bidding. The organization asked others at the school to do this(my niece was one of them) because they didn’t have legal standing to bring it forward, she was very much coached(and somebody mentally challenged could figure that out),because she was nothing more than a c-ish student. not the brightest bulb on the tree.

              • TheBlackCat13

                she was very much coached(and somebody mentally challenged could figure that out),because she was nothing more than a c-ish student. not the brightest bulb on the tree.

                Right, because of course every high school student knows the ins and outs of a courtroom, and no lawyer has ever under any circumstances given advice to their clients on how best to phrase their responses.

                I am sure the geniuses in the school board got absolutely no advice whatsoever from their lawyers on what to say.

                • vincent findley

                  And of course nobody from those non-theist organizations told her you should do this to get back at them for not accepting you at a CATHOLIC highschool. ” Do this for us and we’ll get you $’s for your education” etc. etc.

                • TheBlackCat13

                  And of course nobody from those non-theist organizations told her you should do this to get back at them for not accepting you at a CATHOLIC highschool. ” Do this for us and we’ll get you $’s for your education” etc. etc.

                  You have been making this claim for months, but you have yet to provide any evidence whatsoever that she knew beforehand she would get any money out of it despite repeated requests to do so. This is nothing more than blatantly dishonest mud-slinging. You have no reason to conclude this other than your own bigotry.

                • vincent findley

                  What evidence do you need? She wasn’t the only one approached. they scoured the campus so to speak to find someone to do this. The ACLU themselves said they needed someone because they didn’t have legal standing. She sang in the school choir and lives in a household that puts up xmas decorations. People are convicted of murder on circumstantial evidence. I don’t need to put up or shut up. You need to live in our fine state of R.I. to figure it out for yourself. It’s not dishonest mud-slinging it’s honest mud slinging.

                • TheBlackCat13

                  What evidence do you need?

                  Something that couldn’t be equally well explained by her thinking the issue is important.

                  She wasn’t the only one approached. they scoured the campus so to speak to find someone to do this.

                  Could be equally well explained by her thinking the issue is important.

                  The ACLU themselves said they needed someone because they didn’t have legal standing.

                  Could be equally well explained by her thinking the issue is important.

                  She sang in the school choir and lives in a household that puts up xmas decorations.

                  Utterly irrelevant.

                • vincent findley

                  Point four, very relevant. It shows she’s a hypocrite. The so called “atheist since I was 10 years old” is repulsed by a banner “thinking the issue is important”, and taking a couple of years to bring it forward only because she was pushed into it obviously, yet xmas decorations or choir xmas songs doesn’t repulse her? I don’t care if it’s on private property or done at other venues. If a banner makes her uncomfortable, ANYTHING to do with theism should also. First three points you are severely reaching.
                  Off topic a bit, how come you all haven’t touched on the 3 florists who couldn’t get police escorts to deliver flowers from the FFRF to Ms. Ahlquist on taxpayer $’s, yet Ms. Ahlquist could to get to school?

                • TheBlackCat13

                  So to summarize, you have absolutely no evidence that is not equally consistent with her caring about the issue (which, as she said repeatedly, was government intrusion into religion, not private religious beliefs). But you are hoping we will not notice this if you change the subject.

                  Threats are terrible, I am totally 100% against them. However, the risk presented by anonymous online threats from random places around the world is much less than the risk posed by similar threats from known people in the same town or even school.

                • vincent findley

                  That makes a lot of sense Einstein( by the way I said audio not online threats), the only time you can get police protection is if the threats came from known people in the same city or town as the school? Do you think these threats came from Georgia, ooh maybe Aruba or Spain. I can just see it now, Hello Jim’s Pizza ” I’m coming down there to shoot someone”. They call the police and tell them what transpired. The police in turn say unless the threat came from some known entity in town we can’t help you. Makes a lot of sense to me. I’d like to give you my address so you can mail me some of what you’re smoking so I can get hammered tooo!

                • TheBlackCat13

                  the only time you can get police protection is if the threats came from known people in the same city or town as the school?

                  No, I never said anything remotely similar to that. I said that the relative risk is less if all other things are equal. The decision on whether to provide police protection is based on how big of a risk there appears to be to the person requesting protection. If the risk seems small, then they won’t get protection.

                  Speaking of which, do you have any evidence that the people from the store even asked for protection?

                • vincent findley

                  And another thing, it was a student not a faculty member that gave this to the school as gift of the first graduating class. If the city had the $’s to fight it, it was very winable on appeal, but you all pick on cash strapped cities. Take it all the way to the top like Nedow is doing(and going to fail). Lets see how far he gets trying to get ” In God we Trust” off our currency seeing the 9th circuit court of appeals yesterday in San Francisco said the pledge of allegience is not an endorsement of religion.

                • TheBlackCat13

                  And another thing, it was a student not a faculty member that gave this to the school as gift of the first graduating class.

                  Utterly irrelevant and you know it. The school gave a privileged position to a specific religion. They cannot do that.

              • allein

                What exactly does her gpa have to do with anything?

            • vincent findley

              Read the thread above. It was for two days for the escorts, yet when the florists who refused to deliver her flowers from the FFRF couldn’t get police escorts even after they heard audio of violence directed at their employees and vehicles if the delivery was made and don’t you know 2 tires on one of those company vehicles were slashed a few days later(just a coincidence), yet no police protection? those were just a little more than just idle ” I’ll smack you ” threats. I guess those threats weren’t serious enough.

          • Paul Emmert

            It’s readily apparent that the Representative’s motive is not to merely force children to make themselves known. He wants to preclude anyone, kid or not, from complaining about a constitutional question that should be adjudicated in court. It’s all about his version of theocracy that many people simply don’t buy.

      • TheBlackCat13

        So what advantage is there to opening these people up to any harassment at all, even idle threats? What does anyone have to gain by publicly exposing the people bringing the lawsuit other than to silence them through harassment?

        If the facts were in dispute, then being able to question a witness is important. But the facts are not in dispute here, everyone agrees on the facts. The disagreement is on the law. So there is no need to question the people who brought the suit, there is no information pertinent to the case that could be gained by doing that.

        • vincent findley

          That’s why we have police, although they can’t be everywhere at once that’s what they do, find the bad guys. the 6th amendment pretty much says, we have the right to cross examine all witnesses and evidence against us. the reason I’m debating this is Ms. Ahlquist is being used as an example. I’m a Rhode Islander and Mr. Mehta has a penchant for taking material from the leftist media and blowing it up 1,000,000,000 (is this way ok with you grammar cop)times more than what it was. That incident was over with in less than a week and not nearly the way it was described to this blog. That school has been functioning normally since the incident like it never happened. Basically, if you’re (or is it your grammar cop) going to bring forth an action, don’t hide behind it stand behind it.

          • TheBlackCat13

            Again, there is nothing to cross-examine. What questions would they ask the plaintiffs that would add any useful information?

            • vincent findley

              I beg to differ, you’re trying to tell me that if you’re accusing me of bashing your windshield in and looking to recover $’s, I can’t present evidence or question you(or my attorney question you) or any witnesses to the alledged crime? you can’t be serious.

              • TheBlackCat13

                I beg to differ, you’re trying to tell me that if you’re accusing me of bashing your windshield in and looking to recover $’s, I can’t present evidence or question you(or my attorney question you) or any witnesses to the alledged crime? you can’t be serious.

                Now you are just being intentionally dishonest. Please point out where I said that no one should ever be allowed to cross-examine anyone in any sort of civil trial. This is a blatant strawman that bears absolutely no resemblance to anything I wrote and you know it.

                Here is what I was responding to, in case you forgot your own post:

                the 6th amendment pretty much says, we have the right to cross examine all witnesses and evidence against us.

                (emphasis added)

                And here is my post, again:

                Anyway, there is no right to cross-examine anyone in a civil case, that right only applies to criminal cases.

                (emphasis added)

                Notice all the talk about “right”,

                And here is the 6th amendment:

                In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

                (Emphasis added.)

                So no, there is no right to cross-examine anyone in a civil case.

                Are there laws that say in most cases civil trials require people to be able to cross-examine witnesses? Yes. Is this usually beneficial? Of course. But is there any right to always be able to do so under all circumstances? Absolutely not. Are there cases where it could not have any impact on the outcome of the trial? Obviously.

                So please answer my question: ” What questions would they ask the plaintiffs that would add any useful information?”

                • vincent findley

                  I never said you said that I simply pointed out you can in any matter cross-examine all witness and evidence against you period. I thought I implied it doesn’t matter what question you can or could ask. You need to stay off the crack pipe if you don’t think so.

                • TheBlackCat13

                  Sorry, I can’t even begin to parse the first sentence.

                  The second sentence is simply legally false. It absolutely, positively, does matter in civil cases. You are inventing a right and a legal rule that simply does not exist. You keep insisting it does exist, but I think a federal court judge knows the legal rules on the matter a lot better than you do.

          • Bring It On

            Want to meet face to face and say this exact thing to me? You know, stand up instead of hide behind a wall of cyber-security?

            • vincent findley

              One that hides behind ” bring it on” wants to meet face to face?Vincent Findley is my real name. Also is this how you all solve your problems? So don’t let anything but fear stop you from hopping a plane or whatever and finding me. I’d be more than happy to say whatever it is you need me to say in front of your face.
              Now seeing I’ve been labeled a psychopath is that a wise thing to do?

            • vincent findley

              Well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • vincent findley

          What if a student happened to put that monument up? The plaintiffs still can’t questioned?

          • TheBlackCat13

            Again, what questions would they ask the plaintiffs that could add any useful information to the trial?

      • Paul Emmert

        Vincent, your intolerant, sanctimonious diatribe and characterizations of others who don’t believe the same things you do is precisely why, among other reasons, I left Chrisianity after 45 years. Thank you for helping me reaffirm my own wake-up call. The name calling and lack of respect for your fellow human beings speaks volumes about you and your ilk. Do you suppose your Jesus approves?

        • vincent findley

          Your fellow Godless Stalinists served and and I’m just returning it. Lack of respect for my fellow human being? are you freekin serious bringing that up on this blog? I have seen nothing but crap flung at anyone who believes in a higher power on this site.

          • Paul Emmert

            Vincent, no one forces you to participate here. Are you a masochist? I don’t spend time bashing believers on their blogs. I frankly don’t care what you or others believe. Where I do draw a line, like the author of this blog, is opposing the apparent need on the part of a few believers who overtly, by deed and statements, to attempt to force their world view on others, as though it’s the only, correct one. After all it is simply a belief and faith, right? Flaunting the constitutional separation of church and state, for example, needs to be called out, and that’s what many people do here and elsewhere. Like I said, I could care less what you believe. I don’t call you derogatory names, nor characterize you as some sort of evil malcontent. Why are you so evidently angry at those of us who simply don’t share your belief in God? What’s up with that, Vincent? It doesn’t speak well of your faith. I’m not seeing anything in this blog that trash talks individuals without respect, such as you seem inclined to do….maybe you should just retreat and try to find happiness elsewhere? Trolling probably isn’t good for your health over the long term.

          • OMSOB

            Dude, do me a favor….go stand in front of a mirror, right now. Are you there yet? I’ll wait, g’head…….

            Okay, now, take a good look at yourself and tell me if you see any flecks of spittle on the corners of your mouth, or a mean, nasty and psychopathic look in your eyes, because based on your vitriol and venom that is the image we have of you.

            Because as an atheist I hate it when people try and marginalize my feelings by saying, “what are you so angry about?”, I will not take that tact with you. I will however point out that based on your words and behaviors expressed therein, you seem unstable, dangerous and have the characteristics associated with someone who is capable of committing violent acts against those who do not share your views.

            And you also seem to have sincere and dangerous hatred for Jessica Ahlquist, so much so, she would be wise to find out who you are and request a restraining order. Not to mention, when compared to those who kill abortion doctors or bomb Planned Parenthood offices (which are not hot beds of abortion, contrary to your misguided beliefs) you are the absolute dead-on profile.

            So, I ask you, is this who you are? If not, is this the image you wish to have others associate with you?

            Your choice, but based on your behavior, you are a dangerous, nasty and vile piece of psycho-shit.

        • vincent findley

          Lack of respect for fellow human beings? Are you on acid? Do you have blinders on when reading some of the responses from your(right one grammar police) fellow non-theists on this blog. you all volley like that and we return the serve nothing more nothing less.

      • GCT

        I find it refreshing when bigots like you out themselves so readily.

        Why don’t you try an experiment:

        Go and find a random person and start making threats. At your hearing, tell them you were just making idle threats. See how far that gets you.

        • vincent findley

          That’s not what this is about you ass, the point is it was all blown out of proportion by the leftist media once again. It’s funny though, she got police escorts for a few days on taxpayer dollars, yet the florists who refused to deliver flowers to her from the FFRF couldn’t get police escorts even after the police heard audio from answering machines of violence threatened to their employees and vehicles. What’s up with that?

        • vincent findley

          And of course the bigotry on this blog from your associates is non existent!

      • Score_Under

        Vincent, I realize this is peripheral to the argument at hand, but how can anybody take you seriously when your catchphrase is “Godless Stalinists”? Please, if you want a real debate, show a little respect.

        It might be true that you feel that this site does not respect you, but please be aware that this site is neither targeted at you (these kinds of sites generally “preach to the choir” a lot more than they’d like to admit), nor is it precisely expressing the opinions of its readers. If you wish to discuss matters with readers of this blog I suggest you treat them like human beings first.

        That aside, my stance on this issue is that forcing people to reveal their identity when they take something to court is absolutely and completely wrong.

        Firstly, it is unnecessary – in the end, it is the judge and jury who decide what is right and what is wrong. If it is found to be against the law, it will be removed and justice will be carried out. Reporting what you suspect to be violations of the law should never require you to reveal yourself as the “punching bag” of the case to those who believe they are above the law.

        Secondly, it is harmful – on top of being unnecessary, the only thing it gains for the general public is the ability to destroy the life and well-being of the person involved – all because they saw something against the law and reported it! In my opinion nothing could be more cruel and immoral.

        Now, if you want to discuss the laws of separation of church and state, that is an entirely different matter – it’s currently against the law, and I think that punishing those who report illegal activity is definitely not the way to a healthy legal system.

        If you think that displays like that should be allowed to stay up, then you should campaign against the law that makes them illegal — not support laws which punish the reporting of crime!

        • Score_Under

          Also, just a miniature aside that you all knew anyway: “Krieger” means “Warrior” in German.

  • viaten

    It’s like he wants to invite Christians to harass such plaintiffs. It seems to be a small step towards “Behead anyone who…” The next bill might allow for not punishing harassment if it’s done out of “clear and convincing” religious conviction.

  • Tommykey69

    It’s funny how these people will claim that us atheists don’t have morals and then when someone has the temerity to challenge their dominionist policies we see just how nasty and meanspirited these self-styled Christians really are.

    • observer

      Because Christian extremists see themselves as the good guys, and believe America is “their” country, they believe they’re justified to bend some rules like this to “protect” their religion.

  • Jeff

    I haven’t seen the text of the law, but the initial description says the bill protects the right of Pennsylvania *citizens* to display religious symbols in public. Which is completely irrelevant to this situation, since it’s not a citizen displaying the symbol, but a government office.

    And then there are all the metaphors/proverbs/whatever about not being able to unring a bell, and letting cats out of bags. If a person is required to put their actual name on a piece of litigation against this sort of thing, the possibility of anonymity is obliterated. Should that person receive threats, it would be impossible to grant the protection of anonymity after the fact. People will already know that person’s name, and they won’t magically forget just because a judge later decided that they are not supposed to know that person’s name.

    • Chris Clayton

      Actually it is very relevant. He arguing that the any PA citizen (including the Principal) may choose to display a religious symbol (i.e., the 10 Commandments) in a public space (i.e., in front of a school). He doesn’t say you can’t sue, but if you do sue, you can’t be anonymous.

      It is a whole string of measure to bringing religion back into the town square, starting with the Year of the Bible declaration that was introduced and passed in PA by the same bozos last year.

  • Mackinz

    I felt like posting on the wall of the linked Facebook page. Here is the transcript, in case it is deleted off the page.

    “I thought you government types were supposed to understand that the Constitution forbids you from showing preference to any religion?

    I see that’s not stopping you from attempting to pass this bill that will make everyone who opposes religious symbols on government property into a walking target for those “loving” Christians in their community because you cannot understand that anonymity is there to prevent violence in the first place.

    But it doesn’t matter anyway. The bill in question only affects those who are attempting to infringe on another persons rights to publicly display religious symbols.

    It has absolutely nothing to do with religious symbols being displayed by government-owned agencies on government-owned land, and absolutely nothing to deal with the case at hand. Such displays have been ruled time and time again to be unconstitutional, regardless of what Christians like you claim, because of the Establishment clause in the United States Constitution, something I’m sure you’ve read. The display of the Ten Commandments in question is no different than any other case.

    But I am appalled by your actions, State Rep. You’re an advocate of the bullying of minorities if they disagree with the majority.

    Under your new proposal, what degree of threat would be necessary to provide anonymity? Threatening Twitter messages? Bricks tossed through windows? Death threats? Foiled assassination attempts? Getting beaten up in the streets? What about mental abuse?

    Your bill is not in the interest of the people. It’s in your own interests, an attempt to prevent non-Christian members of this secular nation from displaying their disapproval of government displays of religion, unless they want to end up physically and mentally abused by their community.

    By the way, I’ve taken a screenshot of this. Deleting it will do you no good, except as an attempt at censorship. Your bill is unconstitutional, just as the display of the Ten Commandments you advocate for is unconstitutional.

    Have a good day, sir. I hope that, if you ignore this piece, someone in your community will set you straight on what is and isn’t constitutional and correct.

    And it has nothing to do with a 1600 year-old fairy tail written by middle-eastern nomads in the desert.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=503257844 Adam Evans

    Did the facebook page started deleting comments. Only mine are showing.

    • NewDawn2006

      Certainly did. Which is why I am returning every now and again to repost mine.

  • coyotenose

    I feel the need to correct the title of your post, Hemant. It isn’t that Krieger doesn’t care if atheists are harassed and threatened for supporting the Constitution.

    If he didn’t care, he wouldn’t do anything. But this is active engagement on his part. He WANTS them to be harassed and threatened.

  • sideshow billybob

    Well, I guess no one’s gonna be surprised to find out they’re deleting unfavorable comments. Just went looking for what some of the others posted, only to not find them.

  • WallofSleep

    “How much hate do you have to have in your heart to care so little about students who are fighting to uphold the Constitution?”

    Hate? It’s called “Love of Christ”. Now shut up and take your beating, blasphemer.

  • smrnda

    I don’t get the obsession with putting Christian monuments on public property. Don’t Christians get enough tax-free land to put up their monuments? That’s their freedom of religion (and then some, since I don’t recall anywhere in the Constitution that guarantees religious organizations a special tax status) – putting up their monuments on their own property.

    It’s pretty irritating when people seem to think that they’re entitled to put up their religious monuments anywhere and everywhere. If I get a big enough fan club, is it might right to have a monument to me put up on government property if enough people want it, and at taxpayer expense at that? It’s strange how if you ask a Christian what they think of someone *else* using public property, they see it as clearly sectarian, but not when they do it.

    I hope this doesn’t pass. It’s hard to actually remain anonymous even when the law tries to grant you anonymity.

  • Walrus_Callihan

    So basically what Krieger is saying is that if you don’t like the monument, it’s easier to just deface it anonymously in the night with a can of spray paint than to go through the proper channels to have it moved. That seems fair.

    • WickedNess

      Hahaha!!!! Watch out tho…..that might be perceived as a threat to their inappropriately place monument. Which is apparently more important than the safety of actual humans…

  • NewDawn2006

    Here was my post, which I’m sure will be deleted within due time like all the other dissenters…

    I must admit I am confused. First, I believe there is a misunderstanding of the First Amendment. The one that guarantees the government will not hold one religion above the others. In the case of Valley High School the school is in clear violation of this. It seems that you are very willing to waste taxpayer money in an effort to violate the same Constitution that you swore to uphold and protect. You are supposed to represent ALL of the constituents. Not just the ones who prescribe to your religion. By taking away the anonymity of these lawsuits you are leaving these children open to threats on their physical well being. It has been shown over and over again that this will occur. U.S District Judge McVerry has found significant reason to keep the remaining plaintiffs in this particular case anonymous due to “A number of threats referenced in her affidavit have extended beyond ad hominem rhetoric, although they certainly appear to include threats of violence and ostracism,” (to quote Judge McVerry). It appears that you attempting to put children in harms way in an attempt to discourage people from filing lawsuits of this nature (seeing as how in most cases dealing with this type of lawsuit the named plaintiffs are threatened, Jessica Ahlquist and Maria Schaub in this particular case to just name a few), which in turn would allow violators to get around the First Amendment. If one cannot fight the lawsuit within the constraints of the law then the only way to get around them is to prevent them from being filed in the first place, correct? What better way to do this than ensuring those who are attempting to fight blatant constitutional violations are intimidated and physically threatened?

    I find this a shameful attempt to circumvent due process and the First Amendment. I feel I must again remind you that your responsibility to protect and represent your constituents encompass all of them. Not just the ones you agree with religiously.

  • observer

    The American Taliban, ladies and gents!

  • Ibis3

    Justin Vacula concerned about threats and harassment as silencing tactics? That’s fucking rich.

    • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

      I was actually thinking about noting, at the risk of acknowledging the Deep Rifts, that at least I could agree with Justin on this. I like your response better.

  • tubi

    Am I missing something? Doesn’t the bill as written require exactly what already happened in the case? It requires that in order to file under a pseudonym, you have to show “clear and convincing” evidence of potential harm. But the student plaintiffs had to do just that. In order to proceed with the case anonymously, they showed the judge clear and convincing evidence of potential harm.

    Is this just about moving that requirement back to the filing stage, or am I missing a legal point, i.e., that in any other type of case you can file under a pseudonym without having to show evidence of potential harm?

    • curtcameron

      It sets the threshold way higher than what is currently used. Judges now can grant anonymity based on abusive language towards your kid, being shunned by the community, etc.

      This bill would make the plaintiff show that they WOULD suffer serious physical harm.

      Could Jessica Ahlquist have shown that? There were threats of physical harm – would that be enough? What about convincing evidence that a kid would get a black eye? Is that really serious?

      • allein

        Yeah, how do you prove you will suffer physical harm until someone actually physically harms you, or at least makes a real attempt? And by then, it’s a little late to say, “OK, you can be anonymous now.”

        • TheBlackCat13

          You are operating under the mistaken impression that this is a bug in the congressman’s plan. It isn’t, it is a feature, or rather it is the whole point of the plan.

          • allein

            Oh, I have no such impression that he wants anything else.

  • Sue Blue

    Someone should point out to him that his legislation will also mean that Christian students who legally protest against Islamic, Jewish, or any other religious symbols in schools or other government property will not be protected by anonymity and will be open to the full wrath of irate Muslims, Jews, etc., etc..
    Bet he never thought about that. These one-note, black-and-white types think everything revolves around their viewpoint and nothing else matters. They don’t follow their “logic” through.

    • David S.

      The only religious group that is likely to do serious harm to Pennsylvanians like this is Christians. Any Muslim or Jew that got irate would probably find that Christians are able to put out more trouble then they want.

  • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

    Thanks for the piece and the mention!

  • OCRazor

    He went to Liberty University. I stopped reading about this nut job after that. Too bad for him he can’t introduce assinine legislation anonymously.

  • Edward Tarte

    I sent this post to a Catholic lady who lives in PA. She replied that she could not easily take it seriously because the FFRF lawsuit also wants a nearby church prohibited from putting the monument on its property because school students will see it. I asked her to direct me to evidence; and she did so, sending me an article that quotes the Associated Press saying that. I want to know whether that is really true.

    • TheBlackCat13

      It is in the complaint:

      http://direct.ffrf.org/images/uploads/legal/FFRF-ConnellsvilleComplaint.pdf

      See starting at item 35

      Basically the idea was the school would move the monument a few feet off school property, prominently displayed facing the school.

      So this is not a case of a church trying to take the monument and move it somewhere else in town where students might pass by it, it an attempt to keep the monument as a prominent feature at the school while having it legally on private property.

      This is certainly a cynical and underhanded move to get around the law. Whether it is itself illegal is a matter for the courts to decide.

      Since the school board apparently came up with the idea, and asked the church to place it there, that may be going over the line. On the other hand, if they threw it out and the church took it out of the land fill and put it up, that might be okay (assuming that the board legitimately didn’t know they would do that).

      • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

        I don’t know that much can be done if it legitimately is on private property. A high school that I’m at about once a year, Litchfield High School (IL), has a reasonably large sign that simply reads, “JESUS”, placed across the road so that you see it as soon as you leave the parking lot. It’s incredibly annoying, but I’m fairly certain it’s entirely legal since it’s on private property and (IIRC) wasn’t put up by the school in any way.

        • TheBlackCat13

          Right, but the issue is that the school board were the ones who solicited the church to do this. As I said, if the church had done it on their own with no involvement with the school board, then it is clearly a private action.

          But this was a request from a government entity. Judging from the complaint that is where the problem lies. A church can put a large sign on private property, but the school board can’t make a large “Jesus” sign, then ask a church to put the sign in plain sight of school. That is a government action, not a private one, even if it ultimately ends up on private property.

  • dcl3500

    Well I posted a couple comments on his FB page, doubt they will last long, but had to do it.

  • dandaman

    Here’s a riddle I’ll post on his FB, doubt he’ll be able to figure it out. (clue: potatoes are called “taters” in some parts)

    • TheBlackCat13

      That’s a very good riddle, it is so clever I can’t even see it.

    • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

      I get the distinct feeling that someone is bad with mathematical expressions.

  • kaydenpat

    “How much hate do you have to have in your heart to care so little about students who are fighting to uphold the Constitution?”

    Hopefully this law will not pass. Funny how adamant Rightwingers were about hiding the identity of Prop 8 supporters in CA.

  • johnl

    I was just reading his bio. he’s a liberty u grad. go figure.

  • Lori F – MN

    If you polled the students, how many do you suppose actually care about the monument.

  • El Nopo

    This is off Kaiser’s website/Facebook page:

    “Tim graduated from Connellsville Area Senior High School in 1979. Upon graduating from Liberty University in 1984 with a degree in mathematics, Tim entered the United States Naval Officer Candidate School where he was named a Distinguished Graduate. Upon receiving his orders to join the fleet, Tim served onboard the USS Pensacola (LSD-38) as an engineering, gunnery and deck officer.”

    Liberty University! With a math degree from a magic university…..go figure.

    • smrnda

      As a person with a real maths degree from a real university, I have to wonder what that degree even entails. Don’t the kind of people who go there dislike set theory and use special books that don’t contain blasphemous maths?

    • smrnda

      As a person with a real maths degree from a real university, I have to wonder what that degree even entails. Don’t the kind of people who go there dislike set theory and use special books that don’t contain blasphemous maths?

  • SeekerLancer

    What a slime ball. Again I’m embarrassed for my home state. Pennsylvania really should just start considering itself part of the south at this point.

  • fsm

    Hemant, you seem to continuously make the same error of assuming that understanding government, reading the constitution or having a working brain is a requirement of getting elected.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jerome-McCollom/100000327150215 Jerome McCollom

    If passed into law, this isn’t binding on a federal judge. Any federal judge would just ignore this law, with the possible exception of a religious rightwing judge who wants to use it for cover to release the name of the plaintiff. But, challenges in state courts would be very troubling. I don’t think this passes though.

  • Zaydin

    Someone needs to remind Mr. Krieger of a passage from his own Holy Book:
    “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to
    pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by
    others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full”,
    Matthew 6:5

  • Zaydin

    An addendum: I posted this on his Facebook page:

    “Um… the government isn’t in the business of promoting religion, Mr. Krieger, and religious monuments DON’T belong on public property, be it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, etc. If a Church, Mosque, Synagogue, or Buddhist temple wants to put a religious display up on their property, fine, let them. it becomes a problem when it’s on public land, as the government is not supposed to be promoting any religion, as established by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. After all, public land is owned by the government, and the government is supposed to represent EVERYONE, regardless of their faith. And if you are going to insist Christian religious displays are allowed on public property, then a Muslim and Jewish religious monument need to go up next to it; it’s everyone or no one, sir.”

    Wonder how long it’s going to last before it gets for daring to question the Republican line, and challenging the revisionist history the right-wing has been trying to push that the US was founded as a Christian nation.

  • impoundguy

    I feel like booking a flight out there and buying a sledgehammer

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Erik-Wiseman/1496080461 Erik Wiseman

    Apparently I’ve discovered the secret to *not* getting a comment deleted from Mr. Kreiger’s Facebook page: I simply began my comment with “Sir, I would like to thank you for standing up for the right of all godly citizens…”

    It seems to have flown under the radar thus far.

    The remainder reads:

    …to harass, bully and threaten anyone standing up for their rights and the enforcement of the Constitution of the United States! I’m sure that Misters Delligatti, Lowry, and Jobe and Misses Scherff Lewis and Morgan (above) will be among the first sending their own threats of death and/or abuse to the plaintiffs of the lawsuit prompting this legislation should it pass! We should ALL be standing up for the right of the citizens of these great United States to threaten and abuse our children and anyone else who dares to stand up and demand that the Constitution be upheld in the face of hateful public opinion!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pjohnst Paula Johnston

    I live in one of these schools districts and I contacted the Rep about this. His reply leads me to believe that anonymity isn’t an option except for where physical threats or harm have been demonstrated; even then, as your article points out, he isn’t clear what constitutes that harm.

  • Suzanne Krause

    I posted the following on Rep. Kreiger’s Facebook page:
    “Sir, please study The United States Constitution and Constitutional law. HB 922 is quite clearly unconstitutional as per the First Amendment. It is also dangerous given the amount of hate and vitriol aimed at non-Christians in the United States.”
    I only wonder how long it will be until he removes the post.


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