The mayor of a Colorado mountain town recently banned the board of trustees and residents from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at public board meetings, purportedly due to its “divisiveness,” which drew the ire of evangelical leader Franklin Graham.
Mayor Shane Fuhrman of Silverton, a small mountain town of fewer than 600 residents, did not mention specific incidents but said the pledge would no longer be recited due to threats.
“Due to direct and indirect threats, inappropriate comments in and out of public meetings, and the general divisiveness this is creating in our community, we will not be doing the Pledge of Allegiance during town of Silverton Board of Trustees meetings, and it’s removed from agendas and or protocols until such time that we can discuss this at a board retreat or workshop,” said Fuhrman, explaining why he made an executive decision to ban the pledge less than a minute into the meeting on June 14, which was Flag Day.
Trustee Molly Berla expressed her frustration at the mayor's action and called him out for making the “unilateral” decision to end the pledge without first consulting the board, the Daily Mail reported.
Minutes later, a meeting attendee who was at the meeting to make a public comment addressed the board by first saying that she wanted to recite the pledge.
“I would like to make one comment. I would like to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance,” the audience member said as the mayor tried to silence her, as seen in the recorded video of the meeting, beginning at the 5:18 mark.
A few of the board members and those attending the public meeting defied the mayor's order and recited the pledge anyway.
The mayor and most of the board members remained seated during the pledge, which was followed by a strong rebuke by Fuhrman, who told attendees that he had the power to cancel the meeting.
“We did have a one-strike policy,” Fuhrman said. “I’m not going to ask everyone to leave tonight, but if something like that happens again, we will. And heckling and other things like that are out of order,” he added in response to one audience member who shouted out loud without being recognized by the board.
In a post on Facebook, Graham condemned the mayor who “had to gall” to ban the pledge from public meetings.
“I’ve been to Silverton, Colorado, several times and I never thought this western historic mining town would ban the Pledge of Allegiance!” Graham wrote on Facebook Thursday.
“... Those in attendance didn’t go along with his idea at all, and when it was time for public comments, they stood and recited the Pledge of Allegiance together,” he added.
“When they were finished, Mayor Fuhrman said they were out of order and that they would be asked to leave if they did it again,” Graham continued. “I think this mayor is the one who is out of order! It’s a shame that an elected official would feel this way about the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s important that we take time to recognize and honor our country’s flag — a flag that represents the freedom that so many fought and died for. I’m proud of these citizens and trustees for standing up for that. Silverton may need to re-think who they select for mayor.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., tweeted that it's “hard to put into words what kind of anti-American disgrace this is,” in response to the mayor's disdain for the pledge.
“Mayor Fuhrman should resign and purchase a one-way ticket to China where he won’t have [to] worry about hearing the pledge!” Boebert quipped.
Controversy over the Pledge of Allegiance in Silverton dates back to an April 9, 2018, meeting when Trustee Malcolm MacDougall refused to stand for the pledge.
Ron Renowden, a resident of Silverton, expressed frustration at MacDougall’s refusal to stand for the pledge. “I understand you don’t believe in God and will have to deal with that. That’s the worst man to mess with,” Renowden, a veteran, told MacDougall at the meeting, which was recorded.
“I’m here to address you not standing up for the Pledge of Allegiance. It infuriates the hell out of me that you don’t have the courage or the consideration to stand when we do the Pledge of Allegiance and put your hand over your heart,” he added.
“... For you to show such disrespect,” he continued. “If you don’t want to stand for the flag, you should leave this country. It’s a shame. Your father was in the military in Vietnam. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
“I’m not,” MacDougall retorted.
Renowden responded by saying, “And you better hope that one of these days, if it wasn’t to go to jail, somebody’s going to kick your butt up and down Greene Street.”
MacDougall said Renowden's public comment was a “threat to his personal well-being.”
The sheriff’s office reviewed a recording of the meeting and concluded that “while [the comments were] aggressive, it did not meet the elements of harassing or menacing,” The Durango Herald reported at the time.
Emily Wood is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org