Free thoughts about freethought chairman (updated)

Cal Beverly's picture

[ADDENDUM and update follows below this column.] — In the aftermath of last week’s momentous votes by the Fayette County Board of Education, I’m still puzzled.

First, the four members of the board in early November interviewed seven volunteers for the opening on the board created by the Sept. 22 death of Post 5 member Sam Tolbert.

By mid-November, they made their choice unanimously: Leonard Presberg.

At the first meeting in the new year, members Janet Smola and Terri Smith — herself a former chairman — voted with Presberg to install him as chairman of the board. Then-Chairman Bob Todd and member Marion Key voted against Presberg.

During the same meeting the board voted 3 to 2 — Presberg, Smith and Smola against Todd and Key — to capitulate to the NAACP in the voting rights lawsuit pending against the board. [CORRECTED SENTENCE — See below.]

Here’s my review of that astonishing series of events.

First, the board was being sued so that a black Democrat would have a better shot at being elected to the board. Shuck it all down, and that’s what the lawsuit was about.

Standing before the board in early November were no fewer than four black candidates for the open seat.

Inexplicably, the board chose to appoint a white male, Presberg, to the post. No explanations, no public input, no recourse.

As it turns out, not just any old white male either. Though such information showed up nowhere on his résumé, Presberg is a staunch Democrat, who expects to be listed this fall on the special election ballot as a Democrat for the Post 5 seat.

An interesting side note also nowhere to be seen on his résumé (as under hobbies or interests or such): Presberg is an apparent charter member of an organization called the Fayette Freethought Society. The organization was formed in February 2010; Presberg joined in April 2010.

Here’s what the organization says about itself: “We’re about freedom from religion, separation of church and state, rational thought and skeptical thinking, secular humanism, agnostic, skeptics, freethinker, atheists, brights, secular parenting, secularism, wissenschaft, neopagan, recovering from religion, pantheism.”

Presberg just weeks before being appointed to the Board of Education volunteered his home for the freethinkers to screen a freethinker’s documentary film, “Godless.”

According to the Wikipedia entry, “In the United States, ‘freethought was a basically anti-christian, anti-clerical movement ... .’”

In the sense that every person should be free to think what he/she desires, I too am a freethinker and here’s what I think, freely.

So what we have here is a man who has never held elective office appointed to a school board in a mostly Republican county on the buckle of the Bible Belt.

Within two months of that appointment, he is chairman of the board that controls $180 million in Fayette County public tax money to pay 3,000 public employees and educate 21,000 Fayette children.

And in this Bible Belt Republican county, our new unelected school board chairman is both a Democrat and a member of a militant atheist organization, a man who could never have hoped to be elected to public office in this county, simply because he is so unrepresentative of the vast majority of Fayette voters.

It’s likely that all 133 members of the Fayette Freethought Society would shout in unison that such a man as Presberg is just what the ignorant majority of us need, for our own good.

I humbly disagree.

Under the old qualifier, “some of my best friends are ... (fill in the blank),” we’re not talking about your garden variety village atheism here. We are talking about in-your-face, proselytizing atheism, which seeks to banish all trace of the great monotheistic religions from every square inch of the public square.

These are not live-and-let-live, mind-your-business-and-I’ll-mind-mine true nonbelievers. No, these folks deeply believe that most of us religious folks (mainly of the Christian variety) are just simply stupid and that our stupid religion should be ridiculed as myths.

They hold in pure contempt what most of us in Fayette County consider to be holy. They reserve their highest contempt for Christians who dare to proclaim their faith.

I feel betrayed by the four sitting members of the board of education. Is this the best they could do?

And for the two board members — Smith and Smola — who elevated this neophyte to a position of public power without any public scrutiny whatsoever, what is their excuse?

For my atheist friends who are foaming at the mouth at this point, I’m NOT talking rights here. I agree with my atheist friends that any adult citizen of Fayette County has an inalienable right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and to be elected to public office.

That’s the rub: Presberg slid in under the radar. He was not elected to anything by Fayette voters.

And then he provided the clinching vote to snatch away four-fifths of ALL Fayette voters’ rights to elect their five-member school board.

Because of Presberg, Smith and Smola, never again will Fayette voters get to vote for all five members of their board of education. [CORRECTED SENTENCE — See below.]

And thanks to Smith and Smola, the man sitting atop the public school system in Fayette County is a charter member of an organization that considers the worldview and religious beliefs of most Fayette Countians to be contemptible.

How should the stupid majority feel about that? Grateful to our intellectual betters?

[The original sentence erroneously listed the vote to settle the lawsuit as unanimous. In fact, only Presberg, Smola and Smith voted to settle the lawsuit. Todd and Key voted against the settlement. The original story is at www.thecitizen.com/articles/01-10-2012/naacp-wins-lawsuit-settlement-boe-goes-3-2-district-voting.]


[Cal Beverly is editor and publisher of The Citizen.]

 

ADDENDUM Jan. 19, 2012: Here is one screenshot of the Fayette Freethought Society website, taken before the site was altered recently, and from which I derived the information that the group was "founded Feb. 25, 2010," and that one of its founders was Al Stefanelli, one of two persons who listed their full names.

The screenshot from the original website presentation (prior to the site's alterations) clearly says "founded," it clearly says that founding occurred in February 2010 and it also clearly lists Mr. Stefanelli as one of its "organizers." Draw your own conclusions as to what information the site itself presented to the world at large on its fully publicly accessible pages (at that time).

The site itself, of course, has since been altered so that the information in this screenshot differs from what appears on the site now. Draw your own conclusions about that.

The Wedge
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Carbon, I really dont want them to leave

However, I feel that an apology is in order only if the story is not factually correct. If it is factually correct, what is to be protested then?

Mike King
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Wedge

I do hope Kevin and Mainstream reach a compromise and remain contributors for this site would suffer their loss. You pose a staunch retort for each since they have railed at the very same indignation of others.

I,for one, hope they remain.

Main Stream
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Wedge...

..you all sound like we're some scary secret society for pete sake! We meet for lunch, dinner, trivia and trash pickup... oh my gawd! We're not even a blip on a radar screen... this is getting comical.

wildcat
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oh my gawd....(for Julie)

When you write, "oh my gawd," do you really mean, "Oh, my God?" And if so, why do you acknowledge the name of a deity of which you deny the existence thereof? If that is not the case, then what is a "gawd?"

Also, why close-off portions of your site if your organization is just a "social club?" Earlier today you seemed quite angry...ready to "post your statement" (or whatever word you used) this afternoon. However, now you're stating that your organization is nothing more than a "social club" that meets for lunch, plays trivia and picks up litter. If that is the case, then what are you all afraid that people will see on your site? I have actually been to the site (someone posted a link to Leo's profile) and I was able to see all the names and photos (if they had them) of the members. I'm sure lots of others did as well. You are correct; there is nothing scary about your site. For now, the proverbial cat is out of the bag, so why not become one with it and be proud...it is much more becoming. And you are right....this is getting quite humorous (and I don't mean you)! Hang in there girl!!

Main Stream
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wildcat... I posted this:
The Wedge
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Main Stream, if it isn't factual then attack away

Like I said, I do not know if this is a factual representation of what the Free Thinking Society espouses as their goals. If it isn't then attack away. My main problem is that you cherry pick your indignation. If Cal was attacking because Mr Pressberg was determined to be a member of a group that is reprehensible to you, would you attack back with the same vim and vigor? I certainly don't mind a miriade of voices on here. I enjoy the debate points when it is done well. If the story is not factual, then fire away. If this group campaigns against a group like the FCA, why isn't it newsworthy to discuss the new FYBOE Board President belonging to that group?

Main Stream
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Wedge...
Veritas
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Curious Freethought closed

For such an open group.... Why now close your site ( you can still get to the home page)and block viewers other than members..luckily some of us read through the page and links before the lockdown. Let the public see and base their opinions on what you say on the web page not you say on th blogs...

Falcon66
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Curious Freethought closed

Love how their leader Julie doctored up their home-page, pictures,beliefs, etc. Cowards!

Main Stream
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Falcon... doctored?

what are you talking about, "doctored." Nothing has changed on the home page.

Falcon66
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So nothing was changed??

C'mon Julie give me a break....we all saw the website before the nice family group picture was added, etc, etc...Why are you trying so hard to make it look like Mr. Presberg is not "really" apart of our group....

Main Stream
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Veritas...

Our group page has always been open and accessible to the general public, until Cal went on his tirade. Member identities are hidden now, for obvious reasons, thanks to Cal and his "witch-hunt." Our home page actually provides ALL of the information about our group and who we are.

Veritas
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Parts closed

I am not concerned with Presbergs affiliations with your group or his religion or lack thereof... My concern is with his lack of qualifications an insinuated expertise . I too would block members identity in such a a situation but I would leave my discussions open to let everyone see what we really talk about...(I know that members names probably appear in the discussions but the topics of discussion could be left). I do feel for your group as all groups tainted by views of extremist (stefanelli)members .... But that's how life is often guilty by association sad but true.

Main Stream
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Veritas, and "parts closed"
Veritas wrote:

.. I would leave my discussions open to let everyone see what we really talk about

That's the way the default settings are, once they're set to "private" in order to protect our members, all other pages are private. Our "Discussion" page is very benign and is mostly for announcing events or movie nights at someone's house. Currently, we aren't discussing anything on our Meetup site.

ginga1414
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What Puzzles Me

It is obvious why Presberg didn’t list his affiliation with the Fayette Freethought Society along with his qualifications when he applied for a position on the Board of Education!

Why didn’t our all knowing and more intelligent than thou Smola and Smith have knowledge of Presberg’s FFS affiliation? Or more importantly, did they have that knowledge?

Thanks so much for the information, Cal!

Being a very thoughtful and curious Christian, I decided to do a little investigating of my own. One of the many things I discovered about the Fayette Freethought Society is the fact that not just anyone can delve any further than the superficial. You have to be a member of the group in order to fully access their website.

However, one of the links I found stated, “Wanting to create an open and inclusive group for the secular community in our area, we created the Fayette Freethought Society….”

Therefore, we have someone who is involved in a closed Society in a position of influential power over our school system and our tax money. The FFS is only “open and inclusive” to “the secular community.”

Another Fayette Freethought Society link said, “Building a secular community in the rural south…. because we love a challenge!”

Wait just a minute!! Weren’t we told by some of our public officials and some commenting enthusiasts here that Fayette County is no longer a rural community? I find it very gratifying, however, to know that we are presenting a “challenge” for the FFS.

Cal’s article quoted the FFS homepage as to what “We’re about” and I clicked on each category. More than 90% of the categories referred to the “Houston Atheists, the world’s largest atheist community!”

Come on, Fayette County voters!! This is just more deceptive backroom, closed-door politics! Haven’t we had enough of that?

hutch866
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ginga

Why not blame all four of the sitting members instead of just two? If you're going to spread blame, at least spread it equally. After reading some of the comments on here, do you really have to ask why certain parts are closed, maybe to limit the abuse from all these super Christians that can't stand for some one to believe differently.

ginga1414 wrote:

Being a very thoughtful and curious Christian, I decided to do a little investigating of my own.

You left out one word ginga, "selective".

ginga1414
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hutch and Main

As far as I am concerned, everyone is free to think whatever they please.

However, I have a huge problem with deception.

It is my personal opinion that if Mr. Presberg is going to represent the population of Fayette County on our School Board, he is obligated to fully disclose all of his affiliations. Every citizen in Fayette County should have the right to know exactly who is representing their interests.

Mr. Presberg was not elected to his position. He volunteered and was appointed. The citizens of Fayette County were not afforded the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not they wanted him to represent them. I truly believe that anyone who is brave enough to put themselves before the public should be brave enough to take the heat. In other words, if someone is seeking or attains a position as a public official, they must undoubtedly realize they will be scrutinized by the population they seek to serve.

Christians have been maligned since the days Jesus walked the earth.

hutch866
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ginga

You failed to address my post to you. Why is it only two members of the BOE are responsible for selecting Pressberg. It is my personal opinion that if two are wrong then they all are wrong. That was the gist of my post to you, yet somehow your answer failed to address any of my post.

ginga1414
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hutch, You Are Right

I did fail to address your post. Please forgive me. I guess my pesky freethought took over and I decided to say what was on my mind.

It is my understanding that all BOE members were involved in the selection process for a new BOE member when Sam Tolbert passed away. I do not have the information as to how the voting played out other than what we all know and that is that Mr. Presberg received the majority of the vote.

We all know that Mr. Presberg, Janet Smola, and Terri Smith voted in favor of Mr. Presberg holding the position of Chairman. Bob Todd and Marion Key voted against.

For many years, Smith and Smola have controlled the voting process on the BOE which led to many questionable decisions. Those questionable decisions led to the citizens of Fayette County footing the bill for empty schools and land holdings that can't or haven't been sold.

My thinking is that when someone’s decisions lead to less than desirable consequences, I should be very wary of their future decisions. That thought coupled with the fact that Mr. Presberg’s affiliation with the FFS was not disclosed in his application package is troublesome.

Way back in 2004 our local Transportation SPLOST appeared on Fayette County ballots with no more explanation than “road, street, and bridge purposes.” Normally when issues other than candidates appear on a ballot, there is more explanation. “Road, street, and bridge purposes” could mean anything. Therefore, I did not vote in favor of the SPLOST proposal.

As it turned out, the SPLOST meant that county officials wanted funding for the East and West Fayetteville Bypasses. The small number of citizens who voted that year had no idea that they had agreed to fund the Bypasses. My pesky freethought tells me that the voters were deceived because they were not provided with essential information before they cast their votes.

In the case of Mr. Presberg’s seat on our BOE, the citizens of Fayette County weren’t even afforded the opportunity to express their thoughts.

All of these thoughts seem logical to me. But, who am I? Certainly not a freethinker!

halfdollarandlost
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.

.

Main Stream
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Ginga and FFS...

"Why didn’t our all knowing and more intelligent than thou Smola and Smith have knowledge of Presberg’s FFS affiliation?"

You have got to be kidding me?! FFS is mainly a social and community service group. We meet for dinner, lunches, trivia, movies, and pick up trash every quarter on hwy. 54! You people are totally nuts. I don't recall even seeing Leonard Presberg at any of our events, but I'm proud that he chose to be a member of our group! Ginga, do you even know what freethought is? If I'm not mistaken, many of our founding fathers would be considered freethinkers, but I know this is opening a big can of worms with you folks so I'll leave that one alone, for now.

Why not come to one of our many events and decide for yourselves who we are. By the way you all are talking, you would think we had devil horns and tails... sheesh!

yellowjax1212
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Religious Feelings Aside

Religious Feelings Aside, it would seem very bad practice/policy to appoint anyone not elected (Presberg was appointed to fill a vacant seat) to a chairmanship role. One of the remaining elected board members should have have been appointed interim Chairman.

Veritas
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Vetting Presberg

If vetted this is what should have been known about Mr. Presburg's resume and had influenced the boards decision making and not his religion or affiliation with free thinkers society.

Ok let's see ... He never held a public teaching position. He was a private school teacher and head master at Hill Country Montessori which he himself started. He does not have GAPSC license to teach .He has only a certificate /diploma of Montessori training of  "7 to 9 months devoting 4-5 hrs of study each week and students may accelerate their schedule if desired" (so essentially 5-7 weeks) (Primary grades are 3-6 yrs ).He has.3 years classroom experience with said primary age students while also being the head master, all at a now defunct Montessori school. It had up to 22 students total and at times as few as 5 and  was only open 3 yrs with 2 -4teachers. His only financial experience is  working at his wife's medical practice as "CFO" ...  So he has limited to no knowledge on state, Fed and local funding and nuances in dealing with educational funding allocation and limitations in public education... As an attorney "     practices primarily in the areas of residential and commercial real estate, business and corporate, estate planning, and civil litigation" NOT SCHOOL law which is a specialized area of law....School  leadership... Two to four teachers..... Three yrs... 
It's called embellishment through insinuation.....
Chattahoochee hill country Montessori 
2006-2007 first school yr

2009 closed

kimberlyinptc
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Hate and Fear...

This article screams hatred and fear...hatred and fear of any ideology other than Christianity. So what if most of the voters in Fayette County are Christian and Republican? I am a native Atlantan, and our history is full of bigotry and hatred, most of which was supported by the voting public...was it right? I'm one of the 133 and have never once been called 'militant' or felt that way. I'm married to a born again Christian, whom I respect and love, regardless of whether we have the same religious ideology.
Your observations about the FFS are absurd and severely misinformed and possibly libelous as well. If you take offense to someone's political agenda, then by all means report on that. How dare you "OUT" someone as an atheist when you have no clue what you're talking about. I bet most of the "elected" officials of this county wouldn't pass muster if their online lives were probed too deeply.
As for how Mr. Presberg will fare as a BOE Chairman, we will see...but he deserves a chance before being tried and convicted in your court of public opinion...he couldn't do any worse than build a school that no one attends :/

Dondol
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Good Post Cal

Looks like you got the Bugs to come crawling out from under the Rug!

Gyrene251
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Bugs

A bug? I resent being called a bug. Last time I checked I am human being that likes to think for himself. Nothing wrong with that.

kevink
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Cal Beverly: This may be your worst piece of birdcage liner yet

"Militant atheist organization"? Wow! Burn them at the stake. How dare someone who is not a self-described born-again Christian dare hold office in this county!?

Cal, engage your brain. The same document which protects freedom of and from religion ALSO gives freedom to the press. If you were to truly "correct" this article, it would be about three paragraphs long.

You might think of that before you set out on your next Christian Crusade! Your party, which will be lead by a Mormon, needs a mirror big enough for some collective self-reflection.

ginga1414
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Kimberlyinptc and kevink

It is all about deception!

Main Stream
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You're being ridiculous, Cal

“…we’re not talking about your garden variety village atheism here. We are talking about in-your-face, proselytizing atheism, which seeks to banish all trace of the great monotheistic religions from every square inch of the public square.”

Cal, are you out of your mind? Has your fear of differing belief systems, other than yours (Christianity), caused you to be so narrow-minded and blind? We do NOT proselytize atheism. We are NOT militant and I have to stress to you that you may be inciting violence against the members if you continue to enflame people who read your paper.

“These are not live-and-let-live, mind-your-business-and-I’ll-mind-mine true nonbelievers. No, these folks deeply believe that most of us religious folks (mainly of the Christian variety) are just simply stupid and that our stupid religion should be ridiculed as myths.”

We actually have Christians who are members of the group. Carole Thaxton is a member of our group, and she is a devout Christian. Do you know who she is? She is the wife of Dr. Charles Thaxton (Google him). Dr. Thaxton participated in one of our events in 2010. The Thaxton’s are a wonderful family and I have the greatest respect for them. I don’t consider them stupid at all, like you think we do. How ignorant and small-minded you are, Cal.

“They hold in pure contempt what most of us in Fayette County consider to be holy. They reserve their highest contempt for Christians who dare to proclaim their faith.”

We have many agnostics in our group, as well as people of the Jewish faith, Hindu, Wiccan, atheist and humanist. We have zero contempt for anyone, even Christians. We do, however, have contempt for bigotry, misogyny, racism, and homophobia, as well as small-minded editors of small-town newspapers who attempt to defame someone’s character and incite hatred towards a group of people who may believe, and think, differently than him.

Falcon66
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What?

How exactly can someone be a devout Christian, yet belong to a group that wants to target our Fellowship of Christian Atheletes??? You people really are nuts! Just where exactly does the FCA fall into your contempt for bigotry, misogyny, racism, and homophobia?

Cal Beverly
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Ask your founder to define "activist"

The founder of Fayette Freethought Society says this in his blog post at www.freethoughtblogs.com:

-----------------------------------------------

Some Of My Activist Targets For 2012…

January 14, 2012 at 8:28 pm Al Stefanelli

This year, in my capacity as Georgia State Director for American Atheists, Inc, I will bring new fights against those who would not only abrogate the First Amendment, but do so to the detriment of our children. There are two organizations that I will be focusing on this year, because they have chosen our public schools as their venue for proselytism, targeting the impressionable minds of our children and doing so, quite often, without the knowledge of their parents. Make no mistake, these will be difficult fights, as these organizations are large, well-funded and very influential in our schools. The fight will be worth it, though, because what is at stake is our future.

Here are two groups I will be targeting this year:

Child Evangelism Fellowship

This is a huge organization with tentacles in many different areas. The specific area I will be targeting is called “The Good News Club,” which works within the public school system, using teachers as part of their propaganda.
...

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes

This is another group that works within the confines of the public schools, and many of you who have children in high school are familiar with their magazines, which are distributed on school grounds.
...

I will also be taking on First Amendment issues with individual school boards within the state of Georgia whenever the church oversteps its bounds and infiltrates the minds of our children by doing the work of the church on school grounds. The US Constitution guarantees freedom of religion as well as freedom from religion, and that includes preaching to a captive audience.

Legislative Fights…

I will also be taking on Governor Deal and the Georgia Supreme Court on the “In God We Trust” license plate sticker issue. ... I will be taking on Governor Deal and the Georgia Supreme Court on issues surrounding the inclusion of the Ten Commandments in official state documents and displays. I will also be addressing individual city and town governments in their use of religious invocations in municipal meetings throughout the state.
...

It’s Time To Step It Up…

Comments about herding cats notwithstanding, we need to get more involved in what is being inflicted upon our children. It’s wonderful to sit at our computers and voice our disdain at the religious right’s unceasing efforts to Theocratize our country and put prayer back in the schools and return to the absolute lie of Creationism in our science curriculum. I do it all the time. It is a great outlet and keeps us in touch with what is going on in the world. But that’s the problem. It’s going on in the world…

The Christian Church may be a disorganized gaggle of thousands of different denominations, but the religious right is well-organized, well funded and they are out there making a difference, winning local elections, getting on school boards and are very influential in local politics. This is a strategy that they have been using for over fifty years and they are very good at it.

We need to get in the trenches and fight fire with fire. We need to run for local offices, get on school boards and start becoming influential ourselves in our cities and towns. If we don’t, we are going to end up getting steamrolled into irrelevancy. We have momentum, and we need to carry it through.

I will be working with local Freethought groups on some of these issues and will, of course, keep you posted…
----------------------------------------

So, so-called Main Stream, are you disavowing your group's founder in his post from last week?

If that is not "activist," you and Mr. Stefanelli might want to compare notes on what the word really means.

As for "defamation" charge earlier, Mainstream, you old Christian lover, you should re-read carefully my column.

I said he was a member of Fayette Freethought Society. It's documented. Are you contending Mr. Presberg is NOT a member of FFS?

I did NOT say he was an atheist.

I also said he offered his home to host the screening of the film, "Godless." Also documented.

You say FFS is not a militant atheist organization. Which part of "militant" "atheist" "organization" do you dispute?

Here's what the organization says about itself: “We’re about freedom from religion, separation of church and state, rational thought and skeptical thinking, secular humanism, agnostic, skeptics, freethinker, atheists, brights, secular parenting, secularism, wissenschaft, neopagan, recovering from religion, pantheism.”

Its founder appeared before the Peachtree City Council to demand it cease all prayers before meetings — a first such demand ever for the council. That qualifies as “militant,” wouldn’t you say?

Mr. Stefanelli founded FFS in early 2010.

Mr. Presberg voluntarily (I assume) joined FFS less than three months later. Up until his membership information mysteriously disappeared from the FFS website as of today, Mr. Presberg was still listed as an active member of an organization whose goals — shall we put it delicately? — likely are shared by a tiny minority of citizens of Fayette County.

Now where's the defamation of this very public, political figure who was not — so far as I know — forced to offer himself as a helpless sacrifice for this political post atop the local government with authority over the most local taxpayer spending in Fayette County?

Mr. Presberg is in politics now, subject to the scrutiny and criticism that every political figure is subject to. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander.

I mean, just imagine your posts if a right-wing, fundamentalist Tea Party Republican had been appointed instead? Don't be bashful, Main Stream. We can easily recall some of your more vitriolic, contemptuous posts about such "ignorant" people from your recent past (including your other incarnations on this site).

Inflame? YOU are accusing someone of "inflaming"? Puh-lease!

Remember what my favorite Democrat said? "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen."

And judging from the posts here, you guys really do have a superiority complex, don't you? Intellectually superior, morally superior, broad-minded -- Wow! Such titans walk among us! I bet all your children are above average, too.

Not too tolerant, though, are you? I mean, is it bigoted to hate a bigot?

S. Lindsey
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Cal do you remember this?

"The atheist community gets angry when we read about the antics of idiotic, ignorant and imbicillic [spelling his] politicians and celebrities like Palin, Bachmann, Beck, Limbaugh, Pawlenty and Santorum. We post our thoughts on our social networks and our blogs and try to expose these creeps for exactly what they are. Most of the GOP, just about all of the Tea Party movement and even some Democrats and Independents should be ashamed of themselves for going out in public wearing the equivalent of an intellectual diaper. We criticize them for their rejection of science in favor of their fairy tales and write our letters and support our advocate organizations when our legal rights are abrogated.
But the underbelly of fundamentalist Christianity and radical Islam does not operate in the legal system. They don’t respond to lawsuits, letters, amicus briefs or other grass-roots campaigns and they must, must, must be eradicated. Al Stefanelli, American Atheists’ Georgia State Director

Hmmm Christians MUST BE ERADICATED.. Nah these guys are just some flower smelling, toe tickling group that just wants everyone to get along...NOT.

Remember Cal this group is responsible for protesting a cross at Ground Zero.

Tell me Al did you ask New Yorkers or even the Families before you tackled that one or did you just push your beliefs on everyone else?

Isn’t that exactly what you claim Christians want to do to everyone, force THEIR beliefs on Society?

The Freethought website on Christians: “most of these people” lack the maturity and intelligence” to act in “a socially acceptable manner.”
You believe of these Christians they are “sociopaths,” “psychopaths” or simply “delusional.” This was from their website. At least as of 9/16/2011.

halfdollarandlost
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Lindsey

So one person can define a whole group, by your "logic" then Eric Rudolph defines all Christians. Tell me Lindsey, did Eric ask the Atlantans and their visitors their beliefs before the bomb went off? Is that what a 'Christian' does?

S. Lindsey
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Bonkers and the many one eyed wonder rats

Eric Rudolph expressed his beliefs not a group. I have no fear of Atheist, Agnostics or any other non-believer...BUT... I don't want someone forcing their belief or lack thereof on me by using the court system to force a change of traditional values. I will not force my beliefs on you.. So don't try to force yours on me..

btw- Would you show me the Christian Website, group affiliation newsletter or other denominational National group that Eric blogged, written or even contributed to.

halfdollarandlost
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Lindsey

First off, I'm not bonkers, believe that or not, I care not a whit. Here's a link for Rudolph, he starts off with a Bible quote, make what you will of it. http://www.armyofgod.com/EricRudolphStatement.html.

Please show me where I've tried to force anything on you, please. Also, show me where the Fayette Freethought Society has forced anything on you.

S. Lindsey
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Muddy Waters

Show me where I said you did?

I can quote the Bible as well.. Judas went out and hanged himself..Matthew 27:5 Jesus said "Go thou and do likewise"..Luke 10:30-37

Does that mean that the Bible or Jesus for that matter issued a command to commit suicide...Well no.

So your comment means what?

halfdollarandlost
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Lindsey
S. Lindsey wrote:

I will not force my beliefs on you.. So don't try to force yours on me..

What part of that don't you understand? If you have to resort to playing dumb, so be it. I replied, but whatever man. btw, you never showed where the FFS forced any beliefs on you. If you're not going to debate in good faith, why bother.

S. Lindsey
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Uhh that was a general Statement

of opinion as in... A declaration with no specific subject i.e. Don't pee on my shoes and tell me it's raining.

Now if someone said such a thing to you do you think they really mean don't pee on their shoes and tell them it's raining?

If you can't recognize that then you are right.. why bother to debate.

Ahhh don't go away mad bonkers stay and play. Your wit and intelligence...Ok I'm kidding ganight to ya

Davids mom
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Mr. Beverly
Quote:

“We’re about freedom from religion, separation of church and state, rational thought and skeptical thinking, secular humanism, agnostic, skeptics, freethinker, atheists, brights, secular parenting, secularism, wissenschaft, neopagan, recovering from religion, pantheism.”

Come on - some of our founding fathers believed in some of the same concepts! Thats why we have 'freedom of religion and freedom from religion!!

Quote:

Its founder appeared before the Peachtree City Council to demand it cease all prayers before meetings — a first such demand ever for the council. That qualifies as “militant,” wouldn’t you say?

NO! I imagine that there are some in Fayette who are having a problem with the first black council member. I bet back in the day there were non-militant citizens who spoke against integration at BOE meetings. Activism in a democracy should not be a dirty word. Mr. Beverly - it's ignorant to hate or encourage hatred based on race, sex, religion, etc. You are not exhibiting tolerance or professionalism. What a shame. The Republican Party is ready to nominate a Mormon for the office of president. I'm sure there are some who are opposed to that because of their perception of his religious beliefs. (Compared to some other choices, he's only had one wife.) Let's see if you are professional enough to correct your attempt at inflaming the community against Mr. Presberg. He just may do that himself if he makes decisions which will harm our educational offering in Fayette County. Why the witch hunt at this time? The citizens have time to recall if necessary.

NUK_1
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DM: No freedom from religion here
Davids mom][QUOTE wrote:

“We’re about freedom from religion, separation of church and state, rational thought and skeptical thinking, secular humanism, agnostic, skeptics, freethinker, atheists, brights, secular parenting, secularism, wissenschaft, neopagan, recovering from religion, pantheism.”

Come on - some of our founding fathers believed in some of the same concepts! Thats why we have 'freedom of religion and freedom from religion!!

Agree with most of your thoughts here, DM, except this one. In the USA, there is no such thing as freedom FROM religion, either in the Constitution or in practice. Nor should there be. If there was, some might petition to get rid of all churches because they don't want to see them since they are evidence of religion, and maybe even ban Tim Tebow from being able to express his views because he happens to be on TV and in the NFL.

Beyond that, agree with your thoughts. I think I'm joining Kevin at the exit aisle myself.

S. Lindsey
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Exactly Nuk something most get wrong..

I had that argument a few times one with Mr. Stefanelli himself on another blog.

He didn't get that concept either.

Your Freedom to be you includes my Freedom to be free from you.

There is no "Freedom" from Religion.

hutch866
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Dm

In regards to a recall, can you recall an appointed official?

Davids mom
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Hutch

I have no idea about the 'politics' here in Fayette County. Surely there would be some way to voice disapproval if citizens didn't like what was happening.

Davids mom
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Kevin

Don't go yet. Give him time to reply. We're among the few that have a subscription - and we'll encourage others to drop their subscriptions or request that the paper not be delivered to their homes. There are other papers in the community.

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Cal Beverly: You discredit journalism, and your profession.

You have used your barrel of ink to attack, with loose facts and great contempt, local citizens living within their constitutional rights. As I have enjoyed your paper immensely, I cannot, in good conscience, continue to participate on this forum. It is quite saddening that you have sunk to such depths, Cal.

Perhaps in time, you might realize the great responsibility laid before the Editor of a globally viewed Newspaper; a responsibility which you, in my opinion, have greatly abused.

Barring a printed apology to The Fayette Freethought Society, I will no longer participate on your website. No, it won't hurt you Cal. Non-liberals could care less, but I could not look in a mirror while participating in a venue, which has apparently become a vehicle for Christian-based witch hunts.

I can be reached at kevin.king@vance.af.mil for anyone wishing to contact me. Jevank, Athomegym, hutch, Carbonunit have my personal phone number.

Cheers

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kevink - Good Riddance!

Good Riddance, Jagoff! ROFLMAO!!!!

Ninja Guy
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Kevin K Closes the Door!

Sad to see you go Kevy! I too am considering closing the door on our once beloved Citizen rag as well, but it will be without fanfare. The Ninja will disappear quietly into the night. How in good conscience can I continue to provide free content to paper with such little value for journalistic ethics--I don't think I can find a good reason to continue. Oh well, if it comes to that, it was fun while it lasted.

PTC Observer
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Ninja - seek

Seek the answer deep in your philosophical soul, you know you can't pass up the opportunity to needle ole PTCO.

Can you? Hope not.

Ninja Guy
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PTCO, You Are Behind

on your comment reading! That post was my immediate Ninja super-reflex knee-jerk reaction to Cal's descent into the blogging slime pit we call home! How could I give up my daily interaction with such a merry band of mental inferiors! Driving to Alabama everyday would be cost prohibitive!

PTC Observer
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Ninja - I guess

that's right.

If you drove to Alabama the IQ in both states would improve.

Robert W. Morgan
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Ummm guys, Cal's blog is not journalism

It is simply an opinion column like all of the syndicated people and I daresay like the stuff we see written on here. True Cal is the editor and publisher, but all that means is he has a guaranteed space on an inside left-hand page of the printed paper whenever he wants to fill it. He even entitles his thoughts "Free thoughts". He's not trying to pass this off as newspaper reporting - that reporting on roughly the same subject is on page one and is written by Munford and Nelms.

Of course his opinion is his own and while I think it pretty extreme and certainly wouldn't have given Julie's little think tank that much space or even dignified it by suggesting it might be a religion, Cal is free to express his opinion same as we all are -even Kevin. That being said, I wouldn't want kevin and ninja guy to overreact to something as insignificant as Cal venting about an irrelevant organization led by a Marxist who happens to have a real estate license. Kevin and Ninja should stay around for the real big issues coming up. The top 3 are:
1. How will Mr. Pressberg conduct himself in the future? He and 3 others are up for election - who will they be and what will they say and do to get elected? Smith and Smola are toast, but who will replace them? How will the new people reduce a $10million deficit from the operating budget without closing any schools?
2. What will Fayette County Commission do about the NAACP lawsuit? Is district voting for commissioners good for us? What will Chairman Brown do in less than 12 months?
3. Does Deinhart join Ericka and the other ladies to pin Haddix to the mat? When will Haddix open his mouth next? Who is going to count how many cars the city actually owns?

All that and of course the 2012 election - 4 more years of who knows vs. hope and change. You guys really want to miss all that just because of Cal's emotional outpouring? Stick around guys - it is good therapy.

Ninja Guy
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Well, RWM, Since You Put

it that way--maybe. Still seems that Editor Cal should use that space for real opinion pieces and not hack journalism. Blogging should be left to the un-professionals! I still don't like the idea of providing free content to the second coming of Ida Tarbell though!

Main Stream
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I am the Founder of Fayette Freethought Society...

NOT, Mr. Stefanelli, Cal. I founded FFS in 2009, along with 2 other people. Mr. Stefanelli was not even a member in 2009, so get your facts straight. You are printing lies and falsehoods in your paper. You are NOT a journalist and should be ashamed of yourself for enflaming people and printing lies. How dare you. I'll be submitting a statement later this afternoon.

Julie Williams
Founder, Fayette Freethought Society

Ninja Guy
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Oops, See What I Mean

about lazy journalistic practices! Mainstream drops the bomb! I am not a member of FFTS, or any other society for that matter, except the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Ninjas, but it is evident that the story was very loosely researched at best. Would any of you out there in the corporate have accepted such a report? I for one would not have. As for legality, I don't see how Editor Cal invokes 'absence of malice' on this one. We might all be blogging on another paper come this time next year!

Giants front four will prove too much for Alex Smith. Pats will find a way to win--Brady is on a mission!

MYTMITE
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Come on guys, can't we all just get along? Oops, someone

already said that. We can't all just run away--stay and fight for what you believe in--even though, more and more it seems like we are all believing in something different--maybe that is what makes us so special. I, myself, do not belong to any of these organizations--wasn't it Groucho who said he would not join any group that would have him as a member?? I think clear heads will prevail and this will all fade away. Let's see how Mr. Pressberg serves on the board (am wondering though just what was thinking behind his being appt'd chairperson??? Let's see what happens-----

Robert W. Morgan
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Researching Julie turns up some interesting things, Ninja

If this info all came out during the appointment process, it would have been very helpful. Wonder if he listed his membership in Julie's club on his application. You would think that document would be available to the press and public.

I think that maybe Mr. Pressberg wasn't vetted properly by the school board and now he (and the other 2) have created a situation where 4/5 of us in the county can't vet him out of office. Shame on Smith and Smola for not knowing about this guy and Julie's organization. Or if they did know and appointed him anyway - that's completely irresponsible. Yea, you should be judged by the company you keep.

Giants vs. Pats in Super Bowl. Fine with me.

AtHomeGym
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RWM, BOE, Presberg, & Fairness

I do blv the vote for Presberg was unanimous which means the other two board mbrs bear the same responsibility to vet Mr. Presberg before casting their votes. So in all fairness, we cannot lay the entie blame at the feet of the other two, no matter the inclination to do so. BTW, in the original Citizen article on Mr. Presberg's BIO, it didn't say "Chattahoochee" Hill Country Montessori, only Hill Country Montessori, which led me to Texas.

Ninja Guy
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I Don't Know About That RWM!

You want to be judged by the bloggers you hang around with each and every day, including your new darling Mainstream?!

How about our friend Commissioner Hearn? I guess he keeps fine company with those folks in whatever church he goes to, but he still stuck it to the county and taxpayers with the WFB!

Giants take the Pats again because Brady can't handle upfront pressure! He gets flustered by arms in his face and sacks, of which there will be more than a few in the SB!

Ninja Guy
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Slouching Through Journalism 101

Prone to surprise pseudo-journalistic attacks myself, I am not commenting on Editor Cal's outing of Chairman Pressberg's association with this particular organization. What I am commenting on is what appears to be lazy journalistic practices. All or most of what editor Cal discusses comes directly from the Internet, aside from the part where Chairman Pressberg 'volunteers/offers' his house for a movie screening. I am guessing that info is not on the website and came from an inside source.

It's not like the Freethinkers group is located 500 miles from the FC. How much effort would it have taken Editor Cal or Munford to actually attend one of these meetings or speak directly with Chairman Pressberg or the Grand Poobah atheist guy, or other members of the group?

Are the citizens of the FC really served well by stories based on Internet postings? What's next, raiding people's Facebook postings running stories based on the content there? Let's get back to good old fashioned journalism, especially when the stories and sources are right here in our own backyard and ripe for direct sourcing. What's wrong with pad and pencil?

If you want stories based on Internet postings and Wikipedia without confirmation from actual sources, there are more than enough of us bloggers to handle that!

What say ye Editor Cal?

BTW, I was right about the Giants beating the Packers. It's gonna be the Giants vs. the Pats again in the Super Bowl!

Dondol
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Cal, thought you might find this interesting

This should go up their a## sideways, pay attention who printed the 1st bible in the good ol US of A.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlfEdJNn15E&feature=youtu.be

Davids mom
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Federal Law Involving Religious Activities

There is a law governing and providing guidelines for church/religious groups using public facilities. Familiarize yourself with it - and then judge if groups are breaking this law which separates 'church' from public supported events/buildings. Would we disavow Mr. Presberg if he was a 'just like the rest of us in FC' Are we disavowing him because of his choice of non-religious beliefs? Personally, I wanted my children to learn their religious beliefs at home - not at school (or I would have sent them to a parochial school) What are Mr. Presberg's ideas for solutions to our financial problems in FC? What are his ideas regarding improving the academic program for our students? What are his ideas for maintaining the exceptional staff in FC schools? Why didn't The Citizen give us this information earlier if the publisher believes that this man will undermine the FC school system? He is on the Board, Chair of the Board and has the full support of two others - and the cautious support of one - leaving only one Board member who may not work with him in guiding the FCBOE. The citizens of FC will be watching.

Robert W. Morgan
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We might be agreeing on this one, DM

The real issue here is how Mr. Pressberg performs as a school board member. Being chair doesn't really give him additional power, his actual power is the voting bloc with the 2 ***************** (self-edit). So, how will his beliefs guide him when deciding which books need to be banned by the school or which subjects are off-limits - creationism seems to be in danger, if that hasn't already gone away. I agree 100% about teaching religion at home vs. school (or in politics), but if what Cal writes about Pressberg's group is true, then these people are on a mission to rewrite history and to change behavior and I doubt they care a whit about federal law or public buildings. What better way to do that than getting to the people who oversee educating our kids. It all sounds somewhat familiar. Didn't something very bad in history start out this way?

Yes we need to watch this guy for sure, but apparently only 1/5 of us will have any say in whether he is elected or sent to detention. Wonder what district he represents?

Davids mom
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RWM - Just sayin'

We do have laws regarding this - and if we are a country governed by law - then we, the public, should make sure our representatives are following the law. There was a group in Texas who published a 'history' book and left out the 44th President of the United States. The other states have cancelled their orders of this particular textbook. I am for changing behavior that judges people on their perceived religion rather than their actions. My son's mother-in-law is a cultural Jew and an Atheist. I have never met a person who follows the 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you' as directed in the Bible as much as this dear woman. As long as public school children are not 'forced' to attend a Good News Meeting during school time - or meant to feel isolated because they don't attend - I think it is within the law. JUST AS AN ATHEIST GROUP WOULD HAVE THAT PRIVILEGE UNDER THE LAW.
It's been years since I have had to deal with this issue. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong. If the people in his District decide to keep him - that will be their decision. The BOE meetings are open to the public, and all citizens are invited to voice their concern. If the citizens in the District that he represents feel that the Good News organization is violating their children's lawful rights - they will voice their opinion. If the other members of FC have a majority of citizens who approve of what Good News does under the law - they will have their rights adhered to. Seems fair to me.

kimberlyinptc
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Founded?

Mr. Stefanelli did not found the FFS, as far as I know.

Richardc
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Disappointed

“it could provide social justice and eliminate the social barriers between the German people" Wikipedia on Nazism. It is amazing how things can be taken out of context to paint a picture which flatters ones opinions no matter how disingenuous it might be to the original stated thought or idea.I suggest if your intent was to present an idea of what freethought is about have them read the entire article. I also did a search and on the very first line entry in Wikipedia for the term freethought, this is what I found. "Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or other dogmas." It doesn't sound nearly as sinister as the text you chose to quote. It does however sound much more accurate of the freethinkers I know as opposed to the picture you painted of a militant group of atheist ready to take up arms with the religious right.

allegedteacher
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Are you off your meds, Cal?!

I am appalled, but not surprised at your ignorant, factually flawed diatribe. How dare you to presume what the 133 members of FFS would shout? Silly little man...I don't know about the majority being stupid, but it's evident YOU need some intellectual assistance. Good grief.

NUK_1
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Smith/Smola

Hey, the voters had a chance to throw these inept buffoons out of office in 2009 when it was painfully clear to some(unfortunately, not enough)people they had a major hand in wrecking the finances of the BOE and had no clue whatsoever. Alas, they both get re-elected and future generations of parents and their students and the teachers are going to have to put in even more effort than they are already doing now to try and maintain FC schools' excellence while digging out of a huge financial hole these two clowns helped create.

As far as Presberg, I will wait to judge him after he votes on everything else besides the district voting issue, an issue the other 4 were unanimous about also. The Fayette FreeThought stuff means nothing whatsoever to me, except I sure don't consider them "militant atheist" and the whole rant sounds like something from the McCarthy era. Since when is there a religious litmus test for serving on the BOE? OMG! A democrat too??!! The horrors! I have no idea what religion or lack thereof Smola and Smith are or what political party they claim to represent(poorly)and the only thing that matters to me is how they vote(terribly) and lead(FAIL). Whether they are fine Christians or not? I could really care less.

AtHomeGym
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Nuk & BOE Post

Right on target as usual! I would only comment that White Pages don't show Presberg living in Texas where he claimed to be a Headmaster/Teacher---but those records can e wrong too I suppose.

Veritas
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Palmetto not Tex

Presberg was referencing the short lived now defunct Montessori school HE started in Palmetto
Ga ... Not Texas ( Chattahoochee Hill Country Montessori)

Veritas
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Boe district vote NOT Unanimous

Just to correct the issue ... The boe vote for district voting was split 3-2 Smith ,Smola and Presberg for district voting Todd and Key against NOT UNANIMOUS. The vote on the map of the new districts (after the split vote on district voting itself) was the only unanimous vote.

Main Stream
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Defamation of character, Cal.

Leonard Presberg is Jewish, not an atheist. He did NOT host the documentary, nor was he even present that night. FFS is NOT a militant atheist organization. Retract please.

Robert W. Morgan
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Retraction unlikely Mainstream. Libel suit is your next step

Of course you will have to identify yourself as a real person and get a nutty lawyer before you can file suit. Mrosek and Worley come to mind. You do have kimberlyinptc on your side. Good luck with that.

Frankly, I am with Nuk and Gym on this one. I don't really care about his party affiliation or his whacky little club. 133 people burning candles and worshiping pyramids doesn't amount to anything at all, although if they do that in PTC it would be a code violation of some kind and we will throw your sorry butts in jail - or at least make you pick up litter on Saturday mornings - so you have been warned. Anyhow, a much larger point has been raised before and never answered-

How can 3 people or even 5 people in county of 100,000 make this huge change to our voting process? Is there not a Board of Elections or a charter or some such thing that has to be created (and therefore changed) by only a majority of all voters? Or sanctioned by the State Legislature? Is this how we move from at-large to district voting on county commission - with 3 people holding up their hands? Seems like too much power in the hands of too few.

kimberlyinptc
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Get a life

Maybe you should get a life, or maybe even a clue Mr. Morgan...your senseless ramblings about things of which you know nothing could fill volumes...oh wait, you do fill volumes here daily. And yes...Mainstream (Julie) does have me on her side. Not in the way you think, we are at opposite ends of the political spectrum on most issues. But in defending the FFS and the "candle burning pyramid worshiping" people that are members. I don't expect a narrow minded person such as yourself with nothing better to do all day than hang out on this blog to understand what "fellowship" with like minded people is like...but Julie is absolutely correct when she states that the FFS "meetings" consist of lunch, trivia nights and adopt-a-mile litter pick up. It's a social group of families that think alike...sounds kinda familiar expect for the fire & brimstone, hell and damnation, huh? Too many of you are confusing Mr. Stefanelli's role in his atheist group with the FFS...they are two totally different entities. Just as there are those of us that don't follow Mr. Stefanelli's other group, there are those that do. Kind of like some of you Christians that don't believe in sex before marriage, drinking, women wearing pants, etc...
I wish Mr. Presberg well, as well as his family. His children are Fayette students, and hopefully the teachers and students they encounter won't behave differently to them due to Mr. Beverly's insensitivity about their father.

Robert W. Morgan
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Kimberly's life

Now we have a glimpse inside the cult that is not a cult. Lunch, trivia, litter. Perfect
BTW, Christians generally find it difficult to have sex before marriage if they have been drinking and women are wearing pants. That would be good to explore at your next trivia contest.

Nobody including Cal gives a whit about your little group - which I predict will get smaller as people shy away from the spotlight being shone upon them. Why else scrub your website? And why do it yesterday? Just a coincidence?

Read Cal's message from Wed PM at the top for the real issue. He makes complete sense.

tgarlock
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You hit the Bull's Eye RWM

Far too much power exercised by a few, and I wonder whether there is any recourse, which of course is the question you are implying.

Robert W. Morgan
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Yes Terry, that was the question. The answer ain't good

I have been told by someone who knows that because the issue was raised through a federal lawsuit, there is nothing the State, the county or the voters can do to erase this. So, to review, we have 2 liberal housefraus who love to build extra schools and a member of the tinfoil hat society representing a mostly conservative county who have single-handedly changed the way we elect the people who are responsible for educating our kids. Does that scare you? It should.

Next up, same lawsuit only this time the county commissioners (only takes 3 of them) can fight it or not. 3 of them could roll over like Smith, Smola and Pressberg did and give us district voting without any input from the rest of us. Whereas I previously didn't object to having a black county commissioner (and still don't care) I do now object to just 3 people making such a big decision as district voting for the entire county. I really think they should put the issue on the ballot for the next regular election and get voters to decide.

T-Man
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RWM its not worth fighting

District voting is not needed in this county. But when any group/organization files suite for district voting in the South the outcome is what we have (District Voting). You are asking the 2 groups to take our money and fight a losing battle if you are saying we should stay our ground. The court that will decide the outcome is not from Fayette County.

That’s why Cal is so mad he knows we are stuck with what we have and will have when the commission agrees to the same.

Veritas
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You can be Jewish and atheist

Just to be factual as I do not know the mans spiritual faith or lack thereof ...
One can be Jewish AND atheist...

The Wedge
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I verify Veritas

One can easily be a cultural or ancestral jew, yet be completely atheistic. For example, both Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan were cultural jews, but also atheists.

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