Orlando atrocity: rainbow flag branded offensive to Christians

Orlando atrocity: rainbow flag branded offensive to Christians June 18, 2016

The man pictured above is Stacy White, a commissioner in Hillsborough County, Florida. And he’s not a happy little homophobe because the county this week hoisted a rainbow flag to honour those who died in the Orlando gay nightclub shooting.
According to this report, White, Methodist chaplain to the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners and a Tea Party Republican. said it may be offensive to Christian employees.
In an email sent to the the county Human Relations Director Peggy Rowe, White said he received an anonymous complaint from a Christian county employee that the presence of the flag at the county centre was “nearly unbearable” for her to pass on her way to work. and that it created:

A hostile work environment.

And he called the flag:

A divisive, politically-charged symbol.

White suggested it could become “an HR problem” for the county.
Commissioners had voted 5-1 on Wednesday to hang the flag for the rest of June, which is Pride Month, after 49 people were killed at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando on Sunday.
White criticised County Administrator Mike Merrill for allowing commissioners to vote to raise the flag without telling them that some employees may have issues with it.

It is …  unconscionable that the county administrator didn’t express to the board that this divisive symbol might create an uncomfortable workplace environment for many of his employees.

In a memo to commissioners Thursday, Merrill, pictured above helping raise the flag, defended himself against White’s charge, saying he was:

Not aware of any employee complaint or concern having been expressed prior to the Board’s action.

He also said the decision to raise the flag followed commission protocols.

I believe that I had no reasonable basis to believe that the Board’s action would create a hostile or uncomfortable work environment.

But the county’s HR department will investigate the complaint, he said.
In addition to raising the pride flag, the commission voted to recognise June as LGBT pride month every year and hold a candlelight vigil each year on June 12 to remember the victims of the Orlando shooting.

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  • cnocspeireag

    Is he to be believed? It’s no means automatic with such people, but if he’s telling the truth, the only cause of a hostile and uncomfortable work environment would be the bigoted views of his correspondent.

  • H3r3tic

    Stephen Fry has already dealt with this type of arsehole and, as I’d struggle to improve upon his eloquence, I’ll simply quote him in full –
    “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.”

  • David Anderson

    He received one complaint from an anonymous employee. I wonder who that was, Stacy.

  • sailor1031

    What the HR department should investigate is why the Commission has a methodist “chaplain” in the first place? First amendment and all that!

  • Angela_K

    The Christians want a monopoly on rainbows and claim their god sent a rainbow as a sign after “The Flood”.

  • I wonder if displaying a picture of Martin Luther King on the premises would create a “hostile work environment” for any employees who are members of the KKK.

  • Somewhat related, for my non-USA friends… For most of my life United States flags were flown at all government buildings and many other buildings. From 9/11 onward, these flags have been at half mast much of the time. At first because of 9/11. Then for every killing or disaster. Perpetual grief on display. It’s normal now. The tradition was only for the death of a President and only for a short time. Now nearly always, and at the choice of an individual building.
    I don’t think non-government flags belong at government buildings. I also think Islam doesn’t belong in the 21st Century (outside of history and mythology books). I don’t get what I want nearly every day. Until I do, mockery and reason to religion every day.

  • Edwin Salter

    There is an argument in a secular spirit that all identifiers except those which are formally civic should be excluded from public buildings (e.g. parliament has only the national flag).
    It might be dull (my local council flies all sorts of one day, festival etc flags), but it would be a clear principle. This is parallel with not wanting civic employees to publicly display personal allegiances (of any sort including religious, political, sexual). It is about avoiding the contentiously irrelevant. Related objections would be to medics excluding treatments because of their own religious beliefs and to the self-serving favouritisms of privilege.

  • Paul

    Angela K
    What Flood?
    I didn’t see a Flood!
    Don’t you mean the christain ‘theft’ of the one true flood contained in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Written down some ummmm thousands of years before ummmm the one in the babble.
    Umm which is an identical story. (Worth a read and it’s free On the net).

  • Angela_K

    @Paul. Religions are very good at appropriating bits of others mythology then claiming to be their own and true.
    I remember arguing with one of our local Christians who claimed that the rainbow was a sign god wouldn’t flood the earth again, this was at the time we had terrible floods here in Somerset – the irony!

  • Stuart H.

    @Infidel753 -you might find this hard to believe, but I know of a village church where mentioning MLK got the vicar disciplined by his bishop.
    This vicar told me that on Human Rights Day a few years back he thought mentioning King in his sermon as a fine example of Christian decency to inspire his flock would be just the thing.
    Sadly, in his parish the biggest contributors are South Africans who fled democracy, bringing their millions with them. One of them collared him afterwards and warned him that if he ever mentioned “Blick communists” in a sacred place again they’d get him sacked. Their money obviously had more influence with the bishop than MLK’s life, because the vicar was put on a written warning.

  • labman57

    Yep, we sure wouldn’t want to upset these self-righteous bigots.
    Perhaps they can have a “Wear your Robes and Hood to Work” day …

  • barriejohn

    I can see why people might think that it was better not to open the door to all sorts of political displays at public buildings, but how on earth could the Rainbow Flag be described as “divisive” and “politically charged”?
    If it weren’t for the tragic circumstances, this would be funny:
    There were also human chains at earlier funerals, to block the “protestors” (Westboro Baptists, of course).

  • barriejohn
  • John the Drunkard

    A ‘Methodist Chaplain?’ Does the county have a chaplain for every denomination on the board?
    Have the Congregationalists, Baptists, Catholics etc. etc. sued for discrimination yet?
    I guess they’re all just as ecumenical as pie so long as trampling the Constitution is the issue.

  • Poor, poor christian majority being persecuted when a minority is even just mentioned.

  • jay

    “I don’t think non-government flags belong at government buildings. I also think Islam doesn’t belong in the 21st Century (outside of history and mythology books). I don’t get what I want nearly every day. Until I do, mockery and reason to religion every day.”
    I tend to agree with you on this. Indeed it is odd that government flags should be set to half mast for civilian victims of a crime. This can go quickly down a rabbit holw …. if a group of innocent Muslims were killed would they put up a star and crescent? What about Catholics? Yankees fans?
    I’m not sure ANY non-government group should get special attention government buildings.

  • Raul Miller

    Well of course the rainbow flag is seen as “divisive” and “hostile”. It stands in contrast to their biblically inspired values of hate and discrimination. Come on people.

  • Maggie

    Poor Buttercup. At least his delicate sensibilities weren’t offended by the actual atrocity.