So last night was our meeting at the Board of Education in regards to a new religious policy. The first surprise of the evening came about a day or two before when Patti Wigington of about.com contacted Byron and myself that she was coming down to attend the meeting.
Patti was really awesome, all night she Facebook’d and helped me tweet the public comments. And really, she is just a seriously cool chick to hang with. I totally got all fangirly and squealed when I saw her.
When we arrived to the Board of Education, I was running on some serious adrenaline high. I quickly got laptop setup and logged into the Board’s wi-fi. This meeting was moved into a much larger room than last month and I was pleased to see there was enough room for everyone. Especially as we got word that church vans were pulling in and loaded up with their respective congregants. I also watched as Byron had a chat with a Youth Pastor and respect was reflected between the two.
We began the meeting and instantly there was a change. The Board took much better control of this meeting. They indicated that no one was to address the crowd, we were only to address the Board and it’s members (THANK YOU!). Overall, there was less preaching and more opinions shared. Unfortunately we were still met with the same old “Christians are being bullied by the minority” complaints. One gentlemen, Don Yelton, even stated that we should not be concerned with our children’s safety in school because kids have to learn how to defend themselves to prepare for the real world. I am guessing that Mr. Yelton hadn’t heard about the recent shooting at Chardon High School. He also stated that “Christians have been silent too long” and then proceeded to threaten the board members citing that if they did not vote in his favor “Christians won’t lay down and take it anymore”. Mr. Yelton was the most aggressive of all of the speakers for the evening and one that made me question my stance on Freedom of Speech. I am all for being passionate but when you are at the point of threatening grown adults, you need to go stand in the corner and take a time out.
At the last meeting there about 6 of us in support of the policy. This time, however, we had a group that neared 20. It was refreshing and helpful to have that many people because the over all public comments felt that much more balanced. These were not just pagan folks either! We had a Rabbi, Episcopalian priest, a buddhist, and a Catholic…..all in support of the policy. One of my most favorite quotes from the evening was from Rabbi Rob Cabelli who said “If your freedom intrudes on my freedom, and mine on yours, we are not truly free.”
I even got up and spoke this time. I had about 4 different short speeches written all week but my final draft came at 3:30pm yesterday evening. The video below is my speech, crank up the sound and/or use headphones because I have no idea what happened to the sound.
Now I am sure you all are curious as to the outcome of the voting. Well. There was no vote. Chairperson Rhinehart stated that they wanted to work on the policy a bit more and create procedure for handling religious literature specifically. They felt that it would be better to vote on a policy and procedure instead of handling this matter in bits and pieces. To be honest, this didn’t thrill me too much. It felt more like a stonewalling move than an actual step forward. Perhaps I am wrong.
The next meeting will be held on April 12 and they are supposed to vote that night. Initially I panicked because it falls on the last week of tax season and I am afraid I won’t be able to go. But really, I can’t not go at this point so I will be there again. I may or may not speak, will depend on the amount of stress I am under at that time. I will be live tweeting the event, it’s too important of an issue.
If you would like to get more info on this topic, head over to Pagans Tonight Radio. If you want to hear my interview specifically, it begins at the 12 minute mark.
At Mountain Express they did a live feed of all of my tweets from the meeting last night and then posted a compilation of those same tweets.
You can also read about the postponement of the voting at the Asheville Citizen Times site.
I am sure more will be posted today and I will periodically update this list!