Vet drives to Bragg after his court hearing, arrested for atheist activism

I’ve previously posted about the strange proselytism that John Kieffer endured at Fort Bragg in the 1970′s. Mandatory ‘born again’ day, he called it. Sounds familiar.

Well, John is driving back up to Fort Bragg for Saturday’s groundbreaking atheist festival. But he has one thing to do before he can be on his way. He has to go to court on Friday for another hearing for… not praying at a Polk County, FL school board meeting.

Atheist of Florida President John Kieffer was arrested on charges related to his nonparticipation in a Christian prayer ritual conducted BEFORE a Polk County School Board meeting was called to order. His next court date is tomorrow, and the prosecutors have something sneaky up their sleeves. Rather than the defense filing it, the prosecutors are requesting a motion to get certain evidence suppressed from the official trial.

Probably this evidence:

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This is what he was arrested for. Taking pictures during the prayer (which they started doing before the session was called to order, so as not to be sued. Sneaky tactics seem quite common here.)

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‘Highlights’ from the article:

John faces up to 1 year and 4 months in prison if convicted on all the charges. His trial is set for April 23-26, 2012.

Clerk of Courts, Polk County wrote:

FL Statute … Description

843.02 … RESISTING/OBSTRUCTING OFFICER W/OUT VIOLENCE (1st degree misdemeanor; $1000 max. fine; term of imprisonment not exceeding 1 year)

877.03 … DISORDERLY CONDUCT (2nd degree misdemeanor; $500 max. fine; term of imprisonment not exceeding 60 days)

871.01 … DISTURBING SCHOOL, RELIGIOUS, OR LAWFUL ASSEMBLY* (2nd degree misdemeanor; $500 max. fine; term of imprisonment not exceeding 60 days)

* FL Statute 871.01 states: “Whoever willfully interrupts or disturbs any school or any assembly of people met for the worship of God or for any lawful purpose commits a misdemeanor of the second degree.”

I’m excited to shake this hero’s hand on Saturday. Please come out to Fort Bragg, foxhole atheists are fighting for your rights, sometimes well into retirement. Come stand with us at Fort Bragg’s atheist festival – the first time atheists will be allowed to meet on post. Civilians are welcome, and bring the kids – camp quest has some awesome stuff planned.

John is not the only amazing activist veteran that will be in attendance. Stephen Hewitt, the atheist veteran from King, NC receives regular death threats from people in his hometown. Why? Because he didn’t want the Christian flag flown over the public memorial for veterans (like him).

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About Justin Griffith
  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/ Ophelia Benson

    Yes, this is Polk County, the one where many of the public officials are Christian theocrats, the one where a bunch of them – public officials! – poured “holy oil” on all the roads leading into the county and prayed for nonbelievers to be converted or jailed or expelled from the county. It’s a scary place.

    EllenBeth Wachs was at that school board meeting, taking pictures along with Kieffer. I met her at the Moving Secularism Forward conference earlier this month. She’s great.

  • Ben Goff

    You forgot to mention the blatant violation of the first amendment. Taking pictures during public meetings is never a crime in and of itself. As a newspaper photographer, I do exactly what this guy did all the time.

  • Andrew Kilian

    Can’t he just invoke the separation of church and state clause in the constitution?

  • navinjohnson

    The law doesn’t say which God. I think he should say “I assumed to the God called Zues. Since I did not hear anyone say Zuez’s name I did not think it was worship”.

  • navinjohnson

    The law is too ambiguous and should be thrown out.

  • Jasmine

    Hah, I live in Polk County, OREGON. So there’s always a second of confusion when I read about Polk County, Florida. We also have a lot of Christians trying to push their views on everyone here, but it is getting better.

    It’s too bad I can’t afford to attend Rock Beyond Belief. There are a lot of great people lined up, it sounds like. Please keep reporting! Thank you!

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  • James

    ^^ Hahahaha! LOL! wut? I’m too dumb to understand that last post.

  • leftwingfox

    I’m too dumb to understand that last post.

    I think he said “Hi, my name is Spam!”

  • beerijuana

    I’m headed down to Rock Beyond Belief tomorrow with a MeetUp group from Forsyth County, NC. We are privileged and honored to have Steven Hewett as one of our members, he’s also one of the most humble people I’ve ever met, I’m proud to have him as a friend. I’m hoping to get a chance to meet John Kieffer and Justin as well.

    I’ve posted a blog on Atheist Nexus with more links about this story, with content from here and the Atheists of Florida site, at: http://goo.gl/jQq3Y

  • roberthunter

    John and his daughter were involved in a car accident last night in Florence, SC on the way to Ft. Bragg. He dodged someone going ridiculously slow on the highway and lost control, narrowly missing an 18-wheeler.

    They are a little banged up, but they’re stitched up and otherwise okay, all things considered. However, they will not be there today.

    -Robert

    Assistant Cat-herder for the Tallahassee Atheists

  • http://theocracidal.blogspot.com EmmittBrownBTTF1

    Is it time to call FFRF in Polk County?

  • Man

    Yes, polk county is full of bigoted right wing fanatics and stands today as an education black hole: (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/19/the-least-educated-cities_n_650677.html#s115376&title=Lakeland_FL_187)

    The police here have a record for distorting the truth and blatantly lying (EllenBeth wachs case). Fortunately, I graduate in a month and can finally leave this terrible place.


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