EllenBeth Wachs vs Christian theocracy in Polk County FL

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EllenBeth Wachs vs Christian theocracy in Polk County FL

Postby John Kieffer on June 29th, 2011, 9:50 am

"Polk Under Prayer" (aka "PUP")

Polk Under Prayer is an affiliation of political leaders and Fundamentalist/Protestant churches/freelance Evangelical preachers in Imperial Polk County, Florida, whose mission is described in part as:

"If they will not submit to God’s way of living, then the prayer is to have them incarcerated or removed from the county.”


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The above photo was taken on March 1, 2011, at the "Polk Under Prayer" event held at the HIGHLAND PARK CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE in Lakeland, FL.
Shown L-R, event VIPs: Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields; Polk County School Superintendent Sherrie Nickell; and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Also shown are Polk Under Prayer event organizers: freelance evangelical preachers Richard Gerringswald (2nd from right) and Tim Williams, far right.

Now consider what happened just 2 days later to a Polk County resident in the context of the above group ... ELLENBETH WACHS, a retired attorney, outspoken atheist and church/state separation activist was arrested. Over a dozen of Sheriff Judd's SWAT garbed deputies raided her home, searched it, held her employees at gunpoint and jailed Ms. Wachs.

Why?

The "official reason" on the arrest affidavit was because she signed her name with "ESQ" on correspondence with Sheriff Judd and three other people, including the mayor (pictured), the sheriff's attorney, and who today is the Polk County Clerk of the Courts, stated that they "thought" that she sounded like an attorney.

Actual reason why ... RETALIATION

In Dec 2010, Ms. Wachs had challenged Sheriff Judd over his Christmas PR stunt transfer of taxpayer property (jail basketball goals) to area churches. In Jan/Feb 2011, she further discovered through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that the sheriff department credit card, personnel and other resources were used for Judd's PR event.

Also, Ms. Wachs was the lead plaintiff in a Federal 'Prayer' Lawsuit (initiated June 2010) against Mayor Gow Fields (shown in PUP group photo above) and she had challenged the Polk County School Board prayer ritual, Feb, 22, 2011, (School Board Supt. Nickell shown in PUP photo above) ... more details on these issues below.

And, if that wasn't enough, again in May, on clearly more trumped up felony charges, she would again be arrested and held in solitary confinement for 6 days.

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Church/state separation activist, atheist EllenBeth Wachs, in Sheriff Grady Judd's jail issue clothing, stands before Polk County Judge John Stargel, an outspoken evangelical Christian politician.
Judge Stargel's bio: "Religious Affiliation: Baptist; Recreational Interest: family & church activities, golf; Affiliations: Camp Gilead CBM Ministries 1994-present"
Reference: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/ ... ssionId=42




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    Official seal of IMPERIAL POLK COUNTY

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We'll thread the main characters of this Dominionist group together starting with Tim Williams, seen on the far right in the group photo above, and one of the co-organizers of the 1 March 2011 “Polk Under Prayer” (PUP) event....

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... Tim Williams, in the red shirt in the below photo, is seen with “Pastor Frank” Smith of Frank Smith Ministries (Winter Haven, Polk County, FL).

An excerpt from the Frank Smith Ministry website states the objective of "Polk Under Prayer" (PUP) ...

Frank Smith Ministries wrote:
A strip of anointed oil has been placed over all lanes of highway at the county line and a prayer has been given at each location asking God to bring them to have angels inspect every vehicle that travels into or out of this county and to bring under conviction to those who seek evil and we asked God to bring them to a state of submission and repentance.

If they will not submit to God’s way of living, then the prayer is to have them incarcerated or removed from the county.



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(Text enlarged in next post)

We'll talk more about Tim in a bit ...


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Polk Under Prayer - Doctrine

Postby John Kieffer on June 29th, 2011, 9:51 am

Here's a larger image of the above text ...

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Polk Under Prayer - Participants

Postby John Kieffer on June 29th, 2011, 9:59 am

Here's a 27 Jan. 2011 Facebook post for the “Polk Under Prayer PUP Campaign 2011”

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Richard Geringswald writing as Facebook's "The Christian Churches of Polk County" ...

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The Christian Churches of Polk County wrote: “Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields, School Supt. Dr. Sherrie Nickell, and Sheriff Grady Judd. They are coming on board with enthusiasm. Each representative touches three major factors in our county: Government, Education and Law Enforcement.


Additional names mentioned in Geringswald's post are:

Alex Harper: Pastor, “First Institutional Baptist Church” (Lakeland). Gow Fields (Lakeland Mayor) and his wife, Kay Fields (Polk County School Board Chairperson) are congregants of this church.

It was Harper that was invited to do a prayer ritual on 22 Feb 2011 in the Polk County School Board auditorium before the meeting was called to order after which EllenBeth was ejected by police for taking photos and talking during this pre-meeting period. (John Kieffer, who was also present taking pictures and talking with EllenBeth, was arrested and is facing a jury trial on misdemeanor charges in April 2012; more info at ... viewtopic.php?f=30&t=1414 )

Wayne Blackburn: Pastor, “Victory Church” (Lakeland); part of the national “Assemblies of God” denomination

Jay Dennis: Pastor, “First Baptist Church in the Mall” (Lakeland), a 10,000 member mega-church situated in a former major shopping mall. Sheriff Grady Judd is a congregant of this church (source: http://www.polksheriff.org/Sheriff/Page ... ffice.aspx)




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Polk Under Prayer - Facebook

Postby John Kieffer on June 29th, 2011, 10:44 am

Facebook post “Polk Under Prayer PUP Campaign 2011”

Note that event coordinators are Tim Williams and "Dr."Richard Geringswald.

Also note the comment at bottom of the Facebook page.

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POLK UNDER PRAYER- Billboard ads

Postby John Kieffer on June 29th, 2011, 10:58 am

Billboard advertising the event ...

Pictured from left to right are: Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, Polk County School Board Supt. Sherrie Nickell, and Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields

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Re: Polk Under Prayer - more billboard ads

Postby John Kieffer on June 29th, 2011, 12:04 pm

More billboard advertising ...

Left to Right: Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, Polk County School Board Supt. Sherrie Nickell, and Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields

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1 Mar 2011 ... Polk Under Prayer event

Postby John Kieffer on June 29th, 2011, 12:06 pm

Tuesday, 1 Mar. 2011, "Polk Under Prayer" (aka "Prayer Conference") event @ Highland Park Church of the Nazarene in Lakeland

Left to right ...

Mayor Gow Fields, Dr. Sherrie Nickell, Sheriff Grady Judd, Richard Geringswald, Tim Williams

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Photo and details re: Richard Geringswald's "Northside Christian Church" website ...

http://northsidechristianchurchnorthlak ... chive.html

Noteworthy as mentioned earlier is that EllenBeth Wachs, a retired attorney, church/state separation activist and Polk County resident, would be arrested at her home (by over a dozen of the sheriff's deputies in paramilitary SWAT attire) and taken to jail 2 days later (3 Mar. 2011) for using the letters "Esq" after her name on her FOIA requests the sheriff in regard to a church/state separation issue.

The following posts illustrate the recent careers of the above individuals in relation to Ms. Wachs ...


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Polk Under Prayer VIP - Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields

Postby John Kieffer on June 29th, 2011, 12:08 pm

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Gow Fields:

1) Fields is named as defendant in a federal "prayer" lawsuit: “Atheists of Florida and EllenBeth Wachs, plaintiffs, v City of Lakeland and Mayor Gow Fields” filed 12 July 2010. The lawsuit asks that Fields replace Lakeland City Commission meeting prayers, which have been 100% evangelical Christian for decades, with a more inclusive moment of seated silence.

Atheists of Florida (AoF) Sue City of Lakeland
viewtopic.php?f=30&t=1139&p=7407#p7407


2) Fields is one of the three affiants whose statements were included in Ms. Wachs' “Esq.” arrest affidavit. She was arrested, taken to jail and her home searched on 3 Mar. 2011.

It is noteworthy that this arrest was timed just days prior to Ms. Wachs' critical deposition in her lawsuit against Mayor Gow Fields. This was also the case with the re-scheduled deposition, which had to be cancelled as well due to her second arrest days prior.

AoF defeats motion to dismiss In-Prayer lawsuit, but curiously timed arrest of plaintiff causes delay.
viewtopic.php?f=30&t=1423&start=0&st=0&sk=t&sd=a


3) The pastor of the church that Mayor Gow Fields belongs to, Alex Harper, delivered a public prayer (invited by Fields’ wife, Kay Fields, the Polk County School Board chairperson) prior to the start of a school board meeting on 22 Feb. 2011 (9 days before the PUP event), after which Ms. Wachs, who was taking photos and speaking with a fellow Atheists of Florida member during the pre-meeting Christian prayer, was forcibly ejected by police, given a trespass warning and threatened with arrest if she did not immediately remove herself from school board property.



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Polk Under Prayer VIP - Polk School Supt. Sherrie Nickell

Postby John Kieffer on June 29th, 2011, 12:10 pm

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Dr. Sherrie Nickell:

Nickell is the Superintendent of the Polk County School Board.

Nickell was present on 22 Feb. 2011 when, as mentioned in the above post, Ms. Wachs was forcibly ejected by police within minutes after the photo below was taken.

The prayer was given by Kay (and Gow) Fields’ personal church pastor, Alex Harper (shown below), in the school board auditorium before the meeting was called to order. Doing Christian prayers before calling meetings to order was a recent change to the meeting protocol implemented to continue this unconstitutional practice while avoiding a possible prayer lawsuit from Atheists of Florida (or so the thinking went).

Atheists of Florida officers (EllenBeth Wachs & John Kieffer) ejected from Polk County School Board facility; Kieffer arrested, Wachs threatened with arrest and given trespass warning; info ... viewtopic.php?f=30&t=1414



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Nine days after this photo was taken at the Feb. 22, 2011, school board pre-meeting, Ms. Wachs would be arrested at her home by over a dozen of Sheriff Judd's SWAT deputies.



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Polk Under Prayer VIP - Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd

Postby John Kieffer on June 29th, 2011, 12:12 pm

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Grady Judd, Polk County sheriff:

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Sheriff Judd; note the Bible on right corner of his desk

Judd gets his moral base for both his professional and personal life from his belief in God. A Bible always sits on the corner of Judd's desk and he has print outs of Bible verses that he keeps on his desk.

For him, being a Christian man and the sheriff go hand in hand. Being sheriff is not only Judd's childhood dream -- it's also his calling.

"I want to live in the center of God's will, and I want to do what's right," he said.

http://www.baynews9.com/article/news/20 ... -the-media


HISTORY ...

1) On December 28, 2011, Judd received a letter and two subsequent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests (Jan 4 & 21, 2011) from Ms. Wachs about Judd's use of the sheriff department’s credit card and on the clock sheriff deputies and other personnel to uproot and transfer tax-payer property (jail basketball goals) to eight area churches. The installation of one of those jail basketball goals by deputies and jail inmates at one of the churches was planned and choreographed by the sheriff’s office staff into a Christmas media PR event featuring Judd (Dec. 23, 2010).

Atheists of Florida Challenges transfer of County Property to Churches

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viewtopic.php?f=30&t=1344


2) Judd’s legal affairs director, Ann Gibson, who had received and responded to Ms. Wachs' FOIA requests, was one of three arrest affidavit affiants whose statements were included in Ms. Wachs' “Esq.” arrest affidavit. (Recall that Mayor Gow Fields, another Polk Under Prayer VIP, was another of the three arrest affidavit affiants).

3) On 3 Mar. 2011, more than a dozen of Judd’s deputies, dressed in SWAT paramilitary style garb, driving unmarked sheriff’s vehicles, along with civilian clad officials and a sheriff’s crime scene box-truck, arrived at Ms. Wachs' home. Ms. Wachs was pulled out of her home, arrested, hand-cuffed and transported to Judd’s jail booking facility. Meanwhile, her two employees were held at gunpoint by deputies and her home searched for several hours.

It was no coincidence that on the same day Judd visited the jail booking facility with a handful of officials at precisely the time that Ms. Wachs was incarcerated waiting to be released on bail. Held in a large windowed holding cell, she was in full view of Judd and his guests as they walked by within a few feet of her.

Who were these "officials" with Sheriff Judd and was his visit meant as a victory lap for of the "Polk Under Prayer" doctrine? Recall:
"If they will not submit to God’s way of living, then the prayer is to have them incarcerated or removed from the county.”


3) On April 8, 2011, roughly 1 month after arresting and jailing Ms. Wachs (bogus felony "ESQ" charge), Judd received the FREEDOM FEDERATION ‘GREAT AMERICAN HERO AWARD’ from MAT STAVER, founder of Liberty Counsel & dean of Liberty University Law School, on April 8, 2011, as part of ‘The Awakening’ Christian/political event/rally at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.


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MAT STAVER (inscription above: "Take Back America")

Mat Staver is founder of LIBERTY COUNSEL and the dean of the Liberty Law School, part of Jerry Falwell's LIBERTY UNIVERSITY.

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Jerry Falwell: "In 1971, [Falwell] founded Liberty University, an accredited Christian university for evangelical believers."

More info about Judd's award, Matt Staver interest in Judd's transfer of basketball goals to area churches and the Freedom Federation that awarded this ... viewtopic.php?f=30&t=1473



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Polk Under Prayer coordinator - Richard Geringswald

Postby John Kieffer on June 29th, 2011, 12:15 pm

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Polk Under Prayer coordinator, Richard Geringswald:

1) On 5 Apr. 2010, during the public comments phase of the Lakeland City Commission meeting, chaired by Mayor Gow Fields, Atheists of Florida Executive Director, Rob Curry, had been recognized to speak and had begun his comments. While Curry challenged the mayor’s arbitrary last minute rule change prohibiting more than one atheist speaker, an audience member, Richard Geringswald rushed up to the speaker’s table seating himself next to Curry interupting him. Gerringswald continued to speak, without challenge from the Mayor, upstaging Curry.

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Richard Geringswald: "THIS IS OUR HOUSE!"

Geringswald, who was then recognized by the mayor to speak, delivered a speech in which he loudly proclaimed several times, “This is our house!”, meaning, that the city commission meeting belonged to its Christian residents and not to atheists. Fields, who has numerous times in past meetings objected, questioned and/or ‘corrected’ comments by atheist speakers did not object to Geringswald’s assertion.

Geringswald was invited by the City Commission/Mayor Fields to provide the prayer ritual at the next city commission meeting, 19 Apr. 2010.

2) On 18 July 2010, Geringswald organized what amounted to a harassment event at EllenBeth’s previously planned and announced photo-shoot event for her chapter at the site of one of the new “ONE NATION INDIVISIBLE” Atheists of Florida billboards in Lakeland. The image on the billboard held special meaning for her as she had personally designed it. Geringswald had checked the time and place listed on the Lakeland Chapter Meetup site and, along with members of his church group, arrived prior to the event time. Geringswald's group had brought along a large box truck, which is/was owned by Tim Williams. The truck was draped with a Christian themed sign and parked in a location at the property that obstructed the best spot for EllenBeth's photoshoot.

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Geringswald (blue shirt & tie) waiting to harass EllenBeth and her group's planned photo shoot
(more photos of Geringswald's harassment of EllenBeth's photoshoot in below posts)

3) Richard Geringswald, along with Tim Williams (next post), coordinated the 1 Mar. 2011 “Polk Under Prayer” event at a church in Lakeland, inviting Gow Fields, Sherri Nickell and Grady Judd as featured speakers.

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"Richard [Geringswald] moderating the prayer convention with [Sheriff] Grady [Judd], [Lakeland Mayor] Gow [Fields] and [Polk School Supt.] Sherrie [Nickell]"
Image w/ text from Richard Geringswald's "Northside Christian Church" website:
http://northsidechristianchurchnorthlak ... chive.html



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Polk Under Prayer coordinator - Tim Williams

Postby John Kieffer on June 29th, 2011, 12:17 pm

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Polk Under Prayer coordinator, Tim Williams

You remember him ...

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Tim Williams speaking at the Polk Under Prayer event March 1, 2011 (note the image of the official Imperial Poke County seal circumscribed with "Polk Under Prayer" placed adjacent to the church's Christian cross)


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Williams & Geringswald harass EllenBeth Wachs' photo shoot

Postby John Kieffer on June 29th, 2011, 12:18 pm

July 18, 2010 (several months prior to Polk Under Prayer event) ...

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Tim Williams (Polk Under Prayer coordinator) along with other Christian demonstrators had arrived early to position William's box truck to block the Atheists of Florida billboard ("ONE NATION INDIVISIBLE") so as to harass EllenBeth Wachs and her Atheists of Florida chapter member's pre-planned photoshoot event.


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Richard Geringswald and Tim Williams with other members of the Polk Under Prayer group are pictured here demonstrating and occupying the ideal spot for the photo-shoot that Ms. Wachs'/Atheists of Florida members' had planned (July 18, 2010). (Also note the other side of Tim Williams' truck: the wind blew down the "He Has Risen" banner -- partially seen on the ground -- exposing Williams' business: S&W Cabinets, Inc.)

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Geringswald (left), Williams (second from right) and other members of the Polk Under Prayer group are pictured here demonstrating while occupying the ideal spot for Ms. Wachs' photo-shoot (July 18, 2010).


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Williams & Geringswald harass EllenBeth Wachs' photo shoot

Postby John Kieffer on June 29th, 2011, 12:19 pm

July 18, 2011 (continued) ...

When EllenBeth arrived, she immediately instructed her group to simply ignore and not confront Geringswald or anyone in his Christian group. The Atheists of Florida members then assembled (at a less than preferred spot), took some photos and departed the property without incident.

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This photo, by Richard Geringswald or someone in his group, shows the Atheists of Florida chapter positioning themselves for the photo in a difficult fenced area that would still show the sign behind them; EllenBeth is in the pink shirt in the front row.



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These folks want to INCARCERATE the "UNGODLY"

Postby John Kieffer on June 29th, 2011, 12:59 pm

And now you know the rest of the story ...

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"Polk Under Prayer" event participants: Mayor Gow Fields, School Supt Sherrie Nickell, Sheriff Grady Judd, Richard Gerringswald, Tim Williams

"If they will not submit to God’s way of living, then the prayer is to have them incarcerated or removed from the county."

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re: "Polk Under Prayer" statement, Frank Smith Ministries


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Polk County Sheriff's Deputy escorting Polk County Jail inmate, EllenBeth Wachs

Grady Judd has used his position to act on the PUP mandate and has twice this year arrested and jailed EllenBeth Wachs on bogus felony charges in order to silence and defame her for her courageous activism to keep religion out of government.

On June 24,2011, EllenBeth Wachs filed a lawsuit against Judd in Federal District Court in Tampa. It alleges that Sheriff Grady Judd's actions, including two arrests and searches of her house, violated her First Amendment rights and her right to due process. Her attorney, Lawrence Walters, said that more defendants could be added as the case progresses. For more information see ... viewtopic.php?f=30&t=1457 )

In August 2011, the trumped up criminal charges against Ms. Wachs were dismissed. Prosecutors realized that it was not in their best interest to move forward to trial and offered a settlement agreement that dismissed the felonies and averted convictions on all charges. Concerning the federal lawsuit against Sheriff Judd, Ms. Wachs voluntarily dismissed it without prejudice but she has the option to reinstate it if it becomes necessary.





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