FFRF banner to now hang three days late

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4/30/14 - FFRF banner still not hanging
4/30/14 – FFRF banner still not hanging

The ‘Nothing Fails Like Prayer’ FFRF banner is now scheduled to hang in Wilkes-Barre, PA on May 1 – three days following the agreed upon time.

Earlier today — updating a previous piece on this website — I lamented the fact that although officials within Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania’s City Hall made an agreement with me, that they would hang a banner I delivered on April 17, City Hall officials broke their promise. The banner scheduled to hang for one week starting April 28 is now scheduled to be displayed for one week starting May 1.

I called City Hall, leaving voicemail messages on Tuesday and Wednesday to inquire about the banner’s status, and no calls were returned despite City Hall having my contact information. I also called earlier today, around noon, and no call was returned.

Rather than continuing to make phone calls, I visited City Hall to inquire about the banner and spoke with two officials — Gwen and Liza — who informed me that the banner was not hung because the city’s truck used to hang the banner was not available and/or defective. They also said that it would be dangerous for city officials to hang the banner today [because of inclement weather]. Although I didn’t ask about other banners, I was informed that two other banners will also be displayed — alongside mine — later than their agreed upon times. The FFRF banner, I was told, should be displayed early tomorrow morning or tomorrow afternoon.

Memo from City Hall confirming banner display date and receiving check
Memo from City Hall confirming banner display date and receiving check

Going forward, I hope that City Hall officials have the courtesy to return my phone calls and/or inform me that the banner will be hung late for specified reasons rather than failing to return my phone calls and failing to provide updates.

Going forward, I hope that the City of Wilkes-Barre has operational equipment and — if they do not — make an effort to fulfill a promise by another means.

As I noted in another piece in this series concerning the 2014 FFRF banner, I have a ‘history’ with Wilkes-Barre officials – particularly Mayor Thomas Leighton who, in response to the previous hanging of the ‘Nothing Fails Like Prayer’ banner said, “We live in a free country. Unfortunately, everyone has the rights to say whatever what they want to say” alongside comments about how his “hands [were] tied” and Wilkes-Barre City Council members are “people of faith.”

I really hope that Wilkes-Barre officials were not intentionally ignoring me and/or delaying the banner’s hanging. I won’t automatically assume that malice is involved — as I noted, governmental errors, staff shortages, and other explanations can plausibly account for the banner delay — but it’s very difficult to assume, given my ‘history’ with the City of Wilkes-Barre, ‘good faith.’

"Man Objects To Prayers Before City Council Meetings" c/o WNEP TV-16
“Man Objects To Prayers Before City Council Meetings” c/o WNEP TV-16

Going forward, Wilkes-Barre officials should provide reasons for why I can believe they are acting in ‘good faith.’ Ceasing exclusionary government-led council prayer, apologizing for City Hall closing “in observance of Good Friday“/committing to cease further recognition of non-federal religious holidays, contacting me if there are any delays in banner displays, and apologizing for the comment about atheists’ speech being “unfortunate” would be a great start.

Assuming city officials fulfill their pledge to hang the ‘Nothing Fails Like Prayer’ banner tomorrow, it will be displayed right in time for the Circle the Square With Prayer rally commemorating the National Day of Prayer and my protest — coordinated with the NEPA Freethought Society — of it. Perhaps ‘good faith’ assumptions can start tomorrow…and hopefully not in the rain!

As always, feel free to leave your comments below.

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