School Board ejects pagan over prayer at meeting's start
By BARBARA BEHRENDT
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 23, 2001
INVERNESS -- A feud that has been brewing for months between School Board Chairwoman Patience Nave and a pagan man over prayers at board meetings finally boiled over on Tuesday.
Nave asked a deputy at Tuesday's meeting to remove Charles Schrader, a Wiccan who has protested the board's decision to open meetings with Christian prayers. On several occasions, Schrader has said his prayer aloud as board members have said their prayers.
When he began to pray over Nave's invocation Tuesday, she excused herself from the prayer and said, "Mr. Schrader, you are out of order. We have someone else speaking. . . . I'm going to ask you to respect other people."
He refused, saying he had as much right to pray as she did.
Deputy Joe Faherty told Schrader that he was violating a statute that forbids disrupting an educational function. He asked Schrader to stop or to leave the meeting.
Schrader refused, lying on the floor before the board members and challenging the deputy.
"Am I under arrest?" he asked.
"If I put my hands on you, you will go to jail," Faherty told him.
Schrader reluctantly stood up and gathered his materials to leave the meeting. His wife stood by with a videocamera capturing the action, and she followed Schrader and Faherty out of the room, but not before Schrader said of the board's action that it was "about what we'd expect from redneck morons and their police department."
Schrader said later that he did not feel comfortable going to jail especially since he has recently received threats against his safety and because just last week he was struck by a woman as he prayed at a Marion County Commission meeting.
While he was not at the meeting on Tuesday, School Board attorney Richard "Spike" Fitzpatrick sent a message to the board through Nave. She said his opinion was that the board was justified in having Schrader removed to end the disruption.
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