Stop Persecuting Atheists in Polk County!
  • Petitioned Jerry Hill

This petition was delivered to:

State Attorney 10th Judicial Circuit
Jerry Hill
Asst State Attorney
Brad Copley
US Dept of Justice- Civil Rights Division
US Commission on Civil Rights- Southern Division
Peter Minarek, Director

Stop Persecuting Atheists in Polk County!

    1. EllenBeth Wachs
    2. Petition by

      EllenBeth Wachs

      Lakeland, FL

Religious Freedom is at stake for everyone. When we place religious speech above secular speech, the foundation and principles that this great Nation were built upon tremble and crumble. When we have a government that values one set of beliefs over others, groups are regarded as second class citizens. When the majority religion imposes faith where none should be, theocracy ensues and the minority's rights get trampled and everyone loses.

Government has no business being in the prayer business and has NO business arresting someone for NOT praying. That is what happened to Atheists of Florida President, John Kieffer, at a Polk County School Board Meeting.

In front of a packed audience, Atheists of Florida officers, John Kieffer, President, and EllenBeth Wachs, Vice-President, were ejected from the Polk County School Board meeting auditorium Tuesday afternoon, February 22 2011, by City of Bartow police officers. Kieffer was arrested and Wachs was given a verbal trespass warning. Kieffer and Wachs had been taking photos and speaking to each other in the front area of the room while a local area pastor conducted a Christian prayer prior to the official start of the school board meeting.

Kieffer was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest without violence and disrupting a lawful assembly. The three misdemeanors carry a total maximum jail/prison sentence of 1 year and 4 months. His trial is scheduled for February

Imperial Polk County, Florida has become the epicenter of the battle for equality, tolerance and civil rights for atheists. Please send a message to the powers that be that you stand up for the Constitution for EVERYONE.

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 500 signatures
    2. Donation Widget Started for John

      EllenBeth Wachs
      Petition Organizer

      Will you help us in this epic battle? Atheists of Florida has spent an enormous amount of money defending the civil rights of atheists in general and its officers in particular this year against egregious human rights violations and we need your help. After signing the petition, please go to our website and donate whatever amount you can to help.

    3. Reached 50 signatures
    4. Kieffer Steps down as president to concentrate on upcoming trial

      EllenBeth Wachs
      Petition Organizer

      This is an epic moment when government places christian speech above secular speech and seeks to have an atheist jailed for simply not praying prior to the start of a school board meeting. Mr. Kieffer needs to focus his time and energy on the serious nature of the upcoming persecution.


    Reasons for signing

    • Tony Carroll PALESTINE, TX
      • over 2 years ago

      Religious and secular freedom both are at stake. The seperation of government and religion must be kept inviolate. I will defend the right of the religious to their views at all time. All I ask is they do the same for me.

      • almost 3 years ago

      If a Prayer was going on the meeting had not started and hence, it would be impossible to disrupt it.

    • Holly Huber HONOLULU, HI
      • almost 3 years ago

      Freedom OF Religion = Freedom FROM Religion. You can't have one without the other.

    • Alison Ressler WAILUKU, HI
      • almost 3 years ago

      Fascist behavior is not acceptable, and that's what this BS amounts to. The officers in question should be put in jail themselves.

    • Julie Wirtz KAPAA, HI
      • almost 3 years ago

      Any speech designed to evoke community spirit or togetherness in focusing on a common goal or task should speak to ALL the members of that community. Rather than invoking God/s to magically bring the community members together, why not evoke the human spirit (a common denominator of all religions) with the practical reasons they should come together for the cause and make good choices. Anything that can be in the least bit divisive is incompatible with the purpose of the speech. For this reason, I’m in favor of substituting the outdated “invocations” with the more modern secular “evocations” if any pep talk is needed at all for public community or government meetings.


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