This is what three Ocean Grovers had to say on this subject just yesterday:
OhGee: “I made the point earlier on that the Boardwalk Pavilion issue was part of the reason FEMA denied the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OGCMA). I was poo-poo’d that issue had nothing to do with the denial. But I still question that it does. You can’t have it both ways, OGCMA.”
OG Jaimie: “It’s my understanding that the CMA got funding after the early 90s Nor’ easter for repairs to the boardwalk, Auditorium, etc, by arguing – successfully – that despite the CMA’s mission/religious background, they were public facilities, open to the public for both secular and non-secular purposes. In between then and Sandy, certain members of the CMA made it clear that these facilities weren’t open to all members of the public, due to religious beliefs. Fool me once…?”
Doubting Thomas: “Now that we know that the IRS has been targeting conservative and Christian organizations, such as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Catholic League, why should we not suspect FEMA of turning Ocean Grove down because of similar bias?”
Editor’s Note: The first two commenters believe that FEMA denied the CMA’s application for Sandy aid because of the Pavilion episode in 2007 when the CMA was found by the State of New Jersey to have discriminated against a gay couple who wanted to have their civil ceremony in the Pavilion. These two commenters don’t want to accept FEMA’s official explanation that the denial has to do with the designation of the privately-owned boardwalk as a recreational venue.
Doubting Thomas suggested the possibility that FEMA might have targeted the CMA because of perceived political/ religious leanings. He thinks that if the IRS could do it, why not FEMA.
If these theories are true, then FEMA officials need to be investigated, because their rulings cannot be based on religious or political considerations. The fact that the State of New Jersey found that the CMA had discriminated during the Pavilion episode would not be a reason for this Federal agency to punish the citizens of Ocean Grove. The FEMA rulings must be based only on their own unbiased and documented regulations.
It’s OK to speculate and have conspiratorial theories, but it is necessary to point out that there is not a shred of evidence to suggest that the FEMA denial has to do with anything other than the official explanation.
The Camp Meeting Association has it right in responding to the denial with an appeal that has been filed by the book. That appeal argues that the FEMA rules need to be reassessed so that Ocean Grove taxpayers can have help for their boardwalk just like all the other towns around here, regardless of who owns the boardwalk.
—Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger