Atheists of Florida was doing what most atheist and secular organizations have to do these days: fighting the rising tide of government-sponsored religion. They've been playing a whack-a-mole game with the City of Lakeland's mandatory prayer that was held before each city council meeting. First Lakeland added a rabbi to the mix to prove they were inclusive, not just Christian. When Atheists of Florida got that thrown out, the city passed a new law giving Christians a few minutes before the "official" meeting to pray so that it looked like it wasn't an official part of the city council meeting. Everyone saw through that ruse too, and another lawsuit was filed.
So what did Lakeland do next? They arrested EllenBeth Wachs on felony charges of impersonating an attorney!
But that's not all.
On March 3, over a dozen sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement officials, many garbed in SWAT style para-military gear, descended on her home in unmarked vehicles, arrested Ms. Wachs, and searched her home. Two bearded officials in SWAT gear held her two retail employees at gunpoint and for several hours unidentified agents proceeded to systematically tear apart her house, including searching her cars and employees’ cars and belongings. Agents seized Wachs’ personal and business computers, cell phone, documents and other items.And guess what? It turns out that the arrest affidavit was signed by one of the defendants in Ms. Wells' prayer lawsuit. Big surprise.
It's a ridiculous charge. EllenBeth is a retired attorney (she practiced in Pennsylvania). The "evidence" of her crime is that she signed her name "Esq." and said things like, "We'll sue you." In meetings she claimed to be "representing" Atheists of Florida as a spokesperson, not an attorney. She didn't say "I'm their attorney." She never took a dime for her services. Everything she said was true and was something any non-attorney citizen might have said.
So if I put "Esq." after my name, I'm guilty of a felony? That seems to be the entire case that Florida has against Ms. Wachs. Oh, wait ... I forgot – she's an atheist. Throw her in jail!
Anyone who takes our freedom of speech and freedom of religion for granted needs to think again. We have to fight a constant battle against religious people who think this is their country. These people think that atheists, agnostics, and probably Jews and Muslims are second-class citizens in a Christian nation, tolerated but not really welcome. Their un-American beliefs are the very thing the Founding Fathers were afraid of when they wrote that Congress shall make no law respecting religion.