Mayor Who Refused to ‘Support an Organization That Does Not Believe in Jesus Christ’ Issues Public Apology

Last week, the Vero Beach City Council (in Florida) was set to proclaim June 16-23, 2013 as “Humanist Recognition Week” — normally just a formality — but two of the five council members objected to it.

One of them was Mayor Craig Fletcher:

When the council went over the agenda at the start of the meeting, Fletcher asked that the item about the proclamation be removed entirely. His reasoning? “I refuse to support an organization that does not believe in Jesus Christ. I’ll have nothing to do with it.”

It wasn’t just the Humanists of the Treasure Coast who objected to what Fletcher said. Other non-Christian groups were offended by Fletcher’s dismissal of them as well.

This afternoon, though, Fletcher issued an apology for his remarks:

“I want to offer my sincerest apologies to anyone whom I may have offended by my remarks last Tuesday at the City Council meeting. It was a horrific statement and on reflection was way out of place for an elected official to take such a strident stance. I hope everyone will find it in their heart to forgive me.

“I was way out of line,” Fletcher said, adding that he decided to offer the apology after reflecting with his wife and pastor.

Wow. That’s a real apology. Not just an “if you were offended” apology, but an “I royally fucked this up” one. It comes a day after a local newspaper published an editorial calling Fletcher out on his “religious intolerance,” so the timing may be a little suspect, but he ended up doing the right thing.

Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Tracy Carroll, who also objected to the Humanist group’s proclamation, hasn’t said anything publicly about her offensive remarks.

I’m inclined to take Fletcher at his word here. I hope he’s sincere. If he is, he’ll show it through his actions. In the meantime, if you feel the same way I do, consider emailing him and letting him know you appreciate the apology and urge him to back it up with his actions.

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.


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