Some OC officials try to distance themselves from prayer breakfast, but Boykin will speak as planned

Following up on the Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast controversy -- In today’s Daily Times, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and Council members Knight and Ashley attempted to distance themselves from the prayer breakfast but said that Boykin would speak as planned:

http://www.delmarvanow.com/article/20120124/NEWS01/120124011/OCEAN-CITY-...

The Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast will go ahead as planned despite scrutiny from organizations whose members oppose the views its keynote speaker, retired Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, holds about Islam. […]

The event carries the mayor’s name, but is not funded or endorsed by the city. It was founded in 1990 by Bruce Spangler, a former Ocean City police lieutenant who organizes the event each year and is in charge of acquiring speakers, a process Meehan does not take part in. Meehan is an invited guest, and his role is to welcome attendees and introduce other elected officials and dignitaries who are in attendance, the mayor said.

Councilwoman Mary Knight said she had first heard of Boykin's views in early December, and that she had been assured he would speak appropriately at the breakfast. In the past couple days, she has received more than 300 emails from people about the event, most of which are forwarded versions of the emails circulated about it by the two protesting organizations. Councilman Brent Ashley’s inbox had more than 170 messages.

Knight said Tuesday she is not sure whether she attend — she hadn’t bought a ticket yet. Ashley said he has a prior engagement, and will not attend the breakfast. […]

“I wasn’t familiar with General Boykin, but he’s a guest in our community for that event and I’m sure he’s going to follow the same pattern that other speakers have, and be very respectful to all those who are in attendance.”

In response, People For the American Way president Michael Keegan issued the following statement:

“The Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, despite being privately funded and managed, is still the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. Mayor Rick Meehan was not personally involved in inviting Jerry Boykin to speak, but he is nonetheless giving him a platform.

“Mayor Meehan’s planned participation on Thursday would provide an endorsement on behalf of the city. He should exercise his prerogative as mayor to disinvite Jerry Boykin or not attend and remove the official imprimatur from the event.

“Ocean City works hard to maintain its reputation as a family-friendly destination open to all-comers. An official endorsement of Jerry Boykin would send the wrong message about what the city stands for.”

full story:

OCEAN CITY: Speaker's views on Islam are disparaged

10:58 AM, Jan. 24, 2012

OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast will go ahead as planned despite scrutiny from organizations whose members oppose the views its keynote speaker, retired Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, holds about Islam.

People for the American Way and the Council on American-Islamic Relations have sent emails to Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan, asking him to disinvite Boykin from speaking at Thursday morning’s breakfast at the Clarion Hotel.

Boykin has been publicly outspoken about his views of Islam, especially since retirement from military service. He has said there should be no mosques built in America; that Islam is a “totalitarian way of life”; and that the creed should not be protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment, according to videos of his talks archived on rightwingwatch.org.

The event carries the mayor’s name, but is not funded or endorsed by the city. It was founded in 1990 by Bruce Spangler, a former Ocean City police lieutenant who organizes the event each year and is in charge of acquiring speakers, a process Meehan does not take part in. Meehan is an invited guest, and his role is to welcome attendees and introduce other elected officials and dignitaries who are in attendance, the mayor said.

Councilwoman Mary Knight said she had first heard of Boykin's views in early December, and that she had been assured he would speak appropriately at the breakfast. In the past couple days, she has received more than 300 emails from people about the event, most of which are forwarded versions of the emails circulated about it by the two protesting organizations. Councilman Brent Ashley’s inbox had more than 170 messages.

Knight said Tuesday she is not sure whether she attend — she hadn’t bought a ticket yet. Ashley said he has a prior engagement, and will not attend the breakfast.

Meehan and Spangler both said they don’t expect Boykin to say anything radical, only to tell a story of the role God has played in his life.

“I’ve always found it to be an uplifting event, and I don’t think it should be any different this year,” said Meehan. “I wasn’t familiar with General Boykin, but he’s a guest in our community for that event and I’m sure he’s going to follow the same pattern that other speakers have, and be very respectful to all those who are in attendance.”

By inviting Boykin to speak at the community event, Ocean City officials had effectively endorsed Boykin’s “hate-filled rhetoric,” according to Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way. Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said the organization questions the appropriateness of the choice for the event.

Both organizations believed that Ocean City officials were in charge of the selection for the event’s guest speakers, according to their statements.

Tickets to Boykin’s speech were sold for $15 apiece.

###

Share this page: Facebook Twitter Digg SU Digg Delicious