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Posts Tagged ‘Free speech in Ocean Grove New jersey’

A small crowd of OGU supporters gather by the Beersheba Well. Blogfinger photo 8/16/15 ©

A small crowd of OGU supporters gather by the Beersheba Well. Blogfinger photo 8/16/15 © click to make the small crowd bigger.

The shirt says,

The shirt says, ” Support Garden State Equality.” The sign says, “Thank you Rev. Dr. Campolo.” Blogfinger photo 8/16/15.  Police stand by in case someone wants to burn their Medicare cards.

Sunday, August 16, 2015, Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger, reporting live from the Great Auditorium.

Today was the day that Ocean Grove United called for a demonstration outside the GA prior to the weekly Sunday morning service.

Each week there is a different guest speaker, and today it was Tony Campolo, a well-known Baptist pastor.  OGU previously announced that they wanted to welcome him. Couldn’t they just have sent him an email or a nice note?

OGU assembled a lively group of supporters, about 30 of them,  in Auditorium Square Park, outside the GA,  starting at 9:30 am.  They spoke among themselves, but their body language indicated that they did not want to interact with others.

Many in the group were wearing matching blue T shirts with a slogan that said “Support Garden State Equality.”  GSE is the state-wide gay advocacy group that showed up in the Grove at the time of the Pavilion problem and during the demonstration against Kirk Cameron.

I was there with my camera and my NJ Press Pass around my neck. I approached a small knot of demonstrators. One of them was a senior member of OGU who lives in OG  (let’s call her S.–for silent)   She refused to talk to me. Standing next to her was a young woman wearing one of those blue shirts clearly identifying her as a member of the demonstrators.

I asked her why she was there today. She began to speak, but S. demanded that she stop talking to me. The young woman was intimidated and she said, “I guess I can’t say anything.”

Then I approached Luisa Paster, Co-Chair of OGU. She would not say a single word to me—not even hello. She kept her lips tightly sealed as she looked at me. “So I guess you aren’t speaking to me?” said I. She shook her head to indicate “No,”

I told her that it was a shame.  I wanted to ask her to tell us exactly what OGU wants in this town.  Why have a demonstration if you won’t say what the message is?

Someone who did speak to me was Jen Giordano, at her table, promoting “Urban Promise” a Christian group that had been founded by Tony Campolo.  She said that she was well aware of the issues between the CMA and OGU.  Her reaction was , “God loves everyone.”  But she followed up by saying, “Tolerance goes both ways.”

Gen Giordano of Urban Promise. Blogfinger photo. © 8/16/15

Jen Giordano of Urban Promise. Blogfinger photo. © 8/16/15

Another person who tried to speak to the OGU demonstrators was Colleen Batchelder, an outgoing, cheerful woman who came today from Barnegat with her dad to hear this speaker.  She is the founder of “Recklessly Abandoned Ministries Inc.”  I was standing there when she approached a group of OGUniks.  She asked them what the demonstration was about.  No one would speak to her.  The same  OGU member (S for silent) who turned me down, turned Colleen down as well.  But Colleen is a determined person, and she asked S.  to say something because she likes to “hear all sides.”  No answer.  Then she asked S. if she could pray for her. “What would you like me to pray for?” Colleen asked.

S. said nothing, but Colleen is persuasive, so S. said “Pray for world peace.”

Two out of towners tried to speak to the OGUniks, but no answer. © 8/16/15 Blogfinger photo.

Two out-of-towners tried to speak to the OGUniks, but silence was the answer.  © 8/16/15 Blogfinger photo.

After that Colleen and I spoke to each other.  She said that we all should see each other not as groups but as individuals.  She said that all should be welcomed in the church.

You would think these OGUniks would like to explain to the people of Ocean Grove what they are about. But evidently they are so embarrassed by their message that they would prefer we all guess what they are thinking. Ironically they are a group which says they are about “neighborliness, inclusiveness, and mutual respect.”  (from their web site)  Really?

Of course, no one is required to talk to Blogfinger, but stifling the speech of that young lady is another matter altogether.

Ocean Grove United has a history of trying to stiff-arm speech in the Great Auditorium. They have tried, but not succeeded, in intimidating the CMA into applying a gay litmus test to all speakers who are being considered for summer Sunday services in the GA.

How ironic it is that a group that claims to be about equality and freedom would violate somebody else’s right to speak.

As for Blogfinger, I am not surprised by their behavior, because they have shown hostility towards us before. But yesterday we had 1,800 visits to our site and we will probably have higher numbers today.  We never get any commenters who identify themselves as being members of OGU, but that’s their loss.  Their behavior  seems childish.

And anytime someone Googles OGU, they will find our articles, but they won’t find OGU’s message as offered by themselves on our site because they are also silent on the BF site where their voice could be heard by many readers:  www.blogfinger.net.   (At the top of our home page is a search block where you can research our coverage of OGU-related issues in Ocean Grove.)

Golly….OGU really needs a PR person, because their recent activities, like bailing out on the Cupola dedication, have drawn predominantly negative reviews in the Blogfinger comments section.

Oh, by the way, Tony Campolo gave a fine and inspired sermon today to about 3,000 avid followers, but OGU’s favorite topic never came up.  He did, however, remind the congregation that, “This is a Methodist place.”

About 3,000 people attended the Sunday service today to hear Tony Campola. ©

About 3,000 people attended the Sunday service today to hear Tony Campolo. © Click to enlarge.  Paul Goldfinger photo.

JANE MONHEIT  with some good advice:

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