Candidate for Apopka City Commission: ‘My Opponent is Not a Christian’

The people of Apopka, Florida love their Jesus.

That’s why, last year, a local school board gave permission to a Christian group to hand out Bibles to students (leading a young atheist activist to counter with a freethought literature distribution of his own).

It’s also the city where there’s a tight race for one of the seats on the board of commissioners. The election between incumbent Marilyn Ustler McQueen and challenger Diane Velazquez takes place in two weeks and it just took a nasty turn.

Marilyn Ustler McQueen (center) with her family (via Facebook)

After a candidate forum Monday night, McQueen took to Facebook to post thoughts about her opponent. Her biggest complaint?

Velasquez doesn’t appear to be a True Christian™!

… I learned a lot about my opponent tonight, unfortunately no positive points. I was very disappointed to learn her lack of faith and trust in God, (conversation we had back stage), more curious about science than faith and surprisingly not a pleasant person to talk to, rather arrogant…

… I have been praying all night after I found out that my opponent is not a Christian. I am learning that they (she and [mayoral candidate] Joe [Kilsheimer]) have no quorums about lieing, cheating, and sprewing hate and anger. I am very concerned that they will destroy our city. Please tell everyone that if they are Christians now is the time to stand up for what is right and protect our city.

… [Another person backstage] tried to express her faith and like me was at a loss for words when Dianne asked us where does your spirit go when you die, or when she made the comment that there were dozens of Bibles and she didn’t know which one to believe. I personally am not in a position to reach out to Dianne and help her; I know she needs someone to bring her to Christ. Maybe this is God’s way of alerting us to her salvation.

You have to wonder whether anyone would “sprew” that much hate on Facebook if her opponent were a Muslim or Hindu or Jew…

If these were just McQueen’s private beliefs, I wouldn’t care that much — after all, her thoughts echo those of tens of millions of Christians who believe the rest of us are doomed unless we accept Jesus’ divinity.

But this is so far beyond that.

This is her public urging that people shouldn’t vote for a candidate who isn’t properly Christian because, without Jesus, we’re likely to lie and cheat and spout hate.

And just check out the nasty, foul, anti-Christian words coming from Velasquez in response to all this:

“I have a lot of faith. That’s what got me through my husband’s lymphoma; my son’s two deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan; and my dad’s death,” Velazquez said. “But everyone has different views in how they believe in God or don’t. For me, it’s OK to wonder and question.”

Oh… huh. She actually sounds very pleasant.

Diane Velasquez

It’s also worth noting that Velasquez is not an atheist.

She’s Catholic.

“Religion doesn’t belong in [the campaign],” said Velazquez, a retired New York police detective. “I couldn’t believe that what I thought was a private, personal conversation has been turned into political grandstanding.”

She did not deny having doubts about her faith and life after death.

“Yes, sometimes I look up in the sky and the stars and wonder, ‘Is there something there, something after this?’” Velazquez said.

But she also said she prayed every day when her son, Daniel, was in Iraq and Afghanistan with the U.S. Army.

“Some days, after watching the news, I would pray harder,” she said. “I realized young military men like my son were dying. I was always afraid of getting that phone call.”

That’s what makes this story even more bizarre than usual: A Christian candidate is attacking a Catholic candidate for not being sufficiently pious. And in a city where you have to believe in God the right way in order to be taken seriously, that Facebook outburst could sway the election in McQueen’s favor if people don’t throw their support in Velasquez’s direction.

This wouldn’t have been okay if Velasquez didn’t believe in God, but the fact that she does believe — merely worshiping in a different way — makes McQueen’s diatribe all the more ridiculous.

She’s not apologizing for it, either. As of this writing, McQueen’s most recent Facebook post asks followers to “Please pray for me pray my words are Gods words. may he keep me humble.”

Right. Even God doesn’t have the power to do that.

McQueen would be doing everyone a favor by just apologizing for attacking her opponent over her religious beliefs instead of over their stances on the issues. That would be a humble move on her part. Which is precisely why she won’t do it.

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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