Sunday, July 27, 2008

When Council's Cave, Cults Win

Some of you may recall a pair of posts I wrote back in April referring to our local Dogwood Festival and how a local church/cult had the balls to actually whine to the city council because the Festival's policy didn't allow political or religious groups to have informational booths.1 In other words, the Festival people knew that people didn't want a bunch of religious wackos and political zealots forcing their bullshit literature on them while they were trying to enjoy good music, good beer and good food during the Festival. I even got into it with one of the church's associate pastors about how it was decidedly NOT a First Amendment issue because it was two non-profit organizations involved and it was actually Manna Church who was trying to turn it into one by attempting to get the City Council involved.

Well, I read something truly disturbing in the Fayetteville Observer a couple of weeks ago in reference to this issue. On July 19, 2008, in an article titled “Festival reverses church policy” it was announced that the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival caved in to the demands of the local cult leaders and will henceforth allow these fuckers to have informational booths at future Festivals. What's of greater interest to me is Manna's Pastor Micheal Fletcher's quote, “And we’ll follow whatever rules they give us,... Hopefully, everyone obeys them.” BULLSHIT! His church/cult was the source of the turmoil. His church was the one that took 1,000 cult followers to the City Council to bitch and moan. His church was the one that couldn't leave it alone and essentially strong armed the Festival's board of directors into reversing the policy by creating a perceived public outcry and pressure on them. Michael Fletcher, you're an asshole! Just look at this photograph from the Fayetteville Observer:

Can the bastard look any more smug and arrogant? The article mentions that Fletcher said “I had really hoped that they would decide this way. And I’m gratified that they have.” Yeah, I'll bet you are. Now you can recruit more people for your cult. I sincerely hope that if any church truly fucks up and breaks whatever rules the Festival lays down for the use of informational booths, that these are the first assholes to do it so we can be rid of them.2 Rev. Brian Thompson of Simon Temple AME Zion Church said in that he was very interested in finding out what those rules are going to be. So am I, and my fiancée and I have some ideas (OK, they're mainly hers, but she doesn't blog, so I'm putting them down here).

Carlisle and His Fiancée's Ideas for the Dogwood Festival Non-Profit Informational Booths (read 'em and pay attention!)

1) Since AIT was kind enough to allow political and church groups to use their parking lot at the last Festival (for double the fee amount, I might add) outside of the Festival's parameters, why not seek their permission to use their parking lot again as a “Community Corner” for all non-profit groups. Anyone with a non-profit organization that wants to hand out information about their organization and therefore anyone who actually wants said information can be in this area where they aren't in the way or disturbing those who aren't interested in this bullshit.

2) Five Foot Rule – regardless of where information booths are placed, there will be a Five Foot Rule for those working the booth. In other words, you have to wait for people to come to you, you can't run around forcing people to take your crap.

3) Lottery – Space will be limited to a certain number of informational booths. PERIOD. Your application will be put into a lottery drawing (provided it is filled out completely and correctly). If yours is one of the lucky ones chosen, you will be notified and will have a set amount of time to pay the fee for the booth. If you miss the deadline, the Festival should draw to see who gets offered your spot.

4) NO FOOD/DRINKS – this was the issue that started all this bullshit, because Manna wanted to hand out free food and drinks to people along with their pamphlets and materials. (Can you say bribery?). Informational booths are just that; information only! If you want to SELL food/drinks, then pay for a vendor booth and leave your tracts and cult literature at home!

These are just a few ideas mind you. Hopefully the Festival's governing body will see to it that the churches that wish to participate peacefully and respectfully may do so while those religious zealots and nutters out there can be kept from disturbing festival goers. I'll concede Fletcher's comment “And churches are a part of this community” as being true. We are, after all, in the “Bible Belt” here. My issue is that there are to many churches that don't respect the beliefs of others or the desire of others to be left alone and try to force their particular brand of Christianity on others. And that is exactly why I don't want them to be allowed to have booths at the Dogwood Festival; that's not what the Dogwood Festival is about or for. The Festival is about celebrating the Arts, and having some cult asshole try to talk to you about Jesus has nothing to do with the Arts. Neither, however, does having a bunch of environmentalist wackos and Al Gore worshipers around either. So let's keep that in mind as well, eh there Festival board? I realized they're trying to be more inclusive, but if they let to many freaks have booths and they don't make those freaks stay in their booths and isolate them, then they'll have smaller crowds of people willing to go downtown for the event. Just food for thought.

Until next week,
~ Carlisle

Footnotes:

1. “Why Can't Churches Live and Let Live” (April 20, 2008) and “Dogwood Manna Emails/Final Comments” (April 23, 2008)

2. If you want to know the source of my venomous comments and apparent anger with Manna Church, make sure you read the comments for the the original two posts and especially the second one in which I have the emailed commentary of one of the church's pastors and how they've managed to lie through their teeth the entire time. I have inside sources at the Festival, so I know what's going on and who's telling what lies to whom.


Next week's topic (unless I change my mind at the last moment) - “A Graves Point of View (Askew)”

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