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scongro

Post-Super Bowl Plans

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I ran across this on one of the www.jacksonville.com's forums, in response to the Waves of Welcome sign, proposed for I-95. I thought, I'd post it here for everyone to read and respond to.

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Re: Re: Re: Extending waves of welcome

Posted by: capt f

Posted on: 2/18/05 - 12:38 p.m.

In reply to: "Re: Re: Extending waves of welcome" posted by getreal

True enough, a lot of towns have less to attract visitors. Yet most don't wish to attract tourists. Lake City? Nice place to live, no tourists. Lawtey? Waldo? Gainesville?

None of these places have a thing to attract tourists. (Except Waldo and its speed trap. hehe)

If Jacksonville wants to get serious about attracting visitors, I would support such a move fully. But to dangle JMOMA, MOSH or the Zoo as tourist attractions is just plain ludicrous. We must have a proper venue (besides sports.) which will attract visitors year around. Maybe a giant music arenas with major acts each week. Filling the unused stadium with concert attendance when its not being used for a football game seems a good way to garner lots of money from visitors. An amusement park and aquatic center to go with it. A couple of decommissioned Navy ships for tours and hotel space. A military museum on the riverwalk with all the naval aircraft of the past on display. Also make the area a "party zone" by removing the blighted areas nearby and building more public water front access and hotels where all those dilapidated warehouses are under the Matthews bridge back to the stadiums. Any or all of these things are do-able if the city leaders put effort into it. Tallyrand Avenue could become a jewel in our crown.

Jacksonville has been in consideration for theme parks and other tourist type venues, but each attempt has been squashed, mostly by Jerry and his creepy congregation. Or is that convention? Whatever... One thing is for sure, that collection of buildings on Beaver Street has done more harm to the growth and economy of this city then anything or anyone else times ten. In the thiryts's the church destroyed the moton picture industry here. The movie industry was trampled unitl it left for a little place no one had ever heard of. Hollywood, California. We had a shot at Disney World. The church made sure that did not happen. We had a shot at a Six Flags; Baseball Hall of Fame, Sea World; and other attractions, same deal. KO'ed by the church.

The politicians and city planners need to realize the Blabtist Conviction does not speak for the majority of the citizens. Ignoring them would be the best thing for this city. I, for one, am sick of somebody else's religion getting in the way of developing my city.

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^^ I've often heard that FBC has control over the city and/or has stopped something from coming to the city. However, I have never seen/read much to that effect, only heresay.

Does anyone have first hand evidence or credible second-hand evidence of what this guy is saying? I don't doubt the church has stopped Liquor licenses in it's vicinity, but that's typical just about anywhere.

Did the Baseball Hall of Fame really seriously consider Jax, or was that just heresay/wishful Chamber of Commerce rumour? Or was Jax just one of many cities Baseball looked at, but didn't make the cut, undetermined by FBC?

It's hard to imagine what kind of problem Baptists would have with Baseball, and they certainly didn't keep the Golf Hall of Fame out.

I remember many years back, Six Flags was strongly rumoured to be looking in St. John's County, but the company was coy about it. I'm sure they looked at it, but there are only a few Six Flags Parks in the country. There could be many reasons why they didn't pursue it.

Does anyone have supporting evidence of the supposed "veto-power" that FBC is accused of having?

Jax did lose a Wet N' Wild water park, supposedly over the city's refusal to provide $1mm in incentives. I thought that would be a huge bargain compared to other things the city has spent money on.

One thing that I do agree with is that the area from the Hart Bridge to just North of the Matthews Bridge, called Commodore's Point, should be developed. However, that is down the road, let's get JEA Park and the Shipyards done first.

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Lakelander's post is absolutely 100% correct.

It also killed the downtown ampitheater recently.

Hard evidence is hard to come by because the members of city council are members of the church itself. But anyone that goes can tell you if the church preaches negativity on a talked about project, the city never gets it.

To be totally honest, I'm shocked we got the Jaguars, the SuperBowl, passage of the $2.2 billion Better Jacksonville Plan, a few upcoming DT projects and more because the church smited them all.

The people that have lived here long enough will tell you that the FBC has its hands in every facet of the cities development. If a church were ever to be taxed, I pray it be that one.

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Lakelander's post is absolutely 100% correct.

It also killed the downtown ampitheater recently.

Hard evidence is hard to come by because the members of city council are members of the church itself.

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According to that poster on Jacksonville.com, the First Baptist is responsible for all the shortcomings of Jacksonville. Of course, that is absurd and is just another manifestation of anti-Christian bias. I was also raised Baptist (but not FBC) and now am a Presbyterian and see no conflict between the churches and downtown development. The churches, after all, do bring many people downtown and do maintain their structures well. I think that the First Baptist simply does not want to have a red light district around its church and I agree with them. I read an article regarding Orlando and the problems the downtown churches there have with beer bottles littering their property and drunks urinating on their buildings. That, together with a belief that alcohol abuse is wrong, is what FBC is trying to avoid.

I would argue that the reason many of the things Jacksonville "missed out on" like Disney resulted from city leaders who did not want that kind of development in Jacksonville. I for one am glad we dont have Disney, insipid tourists, and all of the low wage jobs Orlando has. Vic did a good job refuting the rest of the nonsense in that post. Well, this is my take on the issue.

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I never realized how much hatred there was towards FBC. I think that because of their size, they experience the "Wal-Mart" treatment, of a massive conglomerate. That poster was just crazy, and he totally got off topic with his FBC rant. They're just an easy target, that's all.

If anything, "rejoice" and be glad that the church stayed where it is. FBC Orlando fled to a sprawling campus in the suburbs, and lemme tell you, when church is over, and all the members hed out to lunch, they don't go to any downtown eateries. Meanwhile, back in Jax, the main sanctuary is like another venue, and can be slightly compared to the arena or T-U Center, for all the people they bring down there. Could you imagine FBC, with all of its history, packing up and moving to....Arlington? Southside??

If anything, the church's problems are more architecturally related, rather than theologically/conservatism related, lol. They're 70's/80's/90's buildings were nothing impressive, but mind you, they reflected the times. Back then, it seemed sensible to build fortress-like buildings in urban areas. But look at their new Welcome Center/Childrens building. It's stunning and very welcoming, IMO. Also, I think they're planning a new building, for Senior Adults, which will probably be designed in their 'new' style of tasteful architecture.

I'd like to see them fix up their parking garages, and maybe even fill up the ground floor of one of the garages with a new Christian bookstore/Cafe. Also, the 'lighthouse' garage is rarely full, and I think it would make sense for some private developer to build a mix-use project near it on Beaver, and pay the church to use its "leftovers" garage for off-site parking for the residential units.

Whew, I can't believe I typed all this....

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Perhaps the majority of negative sentiments regarding First Baptist are misguided. Their congregation and its campus are quite prominent downtown.

Some time ago I remember there was discussion with City Council to extend last call to 3 am, but it was met with heavy opposition. I'm not saying it was because of First Baptist's influence. Does anyone remember this issue?

I have lived here since 1977 and have always felt First Baptist's presence, even from merely driving through the CBD. City Council begins with an invocation, so maybe that explains why citizens feel the Church has such an influence on the city's development and leadership. Newscasts feature citizens often indicating they are praying for someone who's experienced a tragedy or extol the virtues of Christ when a positive event occurs.

It's difficult to find direct references to First Baptist's influence over the city. A councilmember certainly would not say, "I do not support the resolution to approve a Wal-Mart neighborhood market on the grounds of being a member of First Baptist's congregation." Their ideologies, however, dictate their votes.

When I was living in New Orleans, a journalist noted how the bar to church ratio was like 800:1, whereas in Jacksonville it was 1:800 (figure isn't correct, but you get the idea).

By no means are correlations indicative of causation, but a lot of the news I've been exposed to for my 27 years of life has a strong First Baptist component. I'll have to do some research.

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I find it strange that I am of no religion yet have been in FBC more than any of you have mentioned. As Vicupstate, no offenses intended to anyone.

The neighborhood of St Nicholas was against the ampitheater at Metropolitan Park yet that is only a few hundred yards from Alltel Stadium which by all accounts is as loud as any concert on gameday or during it's own concerts as would be from the much smaller ampitheater.

http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/...7/2b1city_.html

Even with guaranteed sound safeguards, St Nicholas griped.

"Mayor John Delaney has said for weeks any amphitheater plan will include legal safeguards requiring musical performers to hold down their volume.

...city consultants this month unveiled a sound study that states noise can be limited from a Metropolitan Park amphitheater.

If Jacksonville builds the 17,000-seat amphitheater, Delaney also has given repeated assurances the city will enforce noise limits. That would include monitoring the amount of noise coming from concerts and, if necessary, requesting the sound be turned down.

Bands that fail to comply would be hit with financial penalties spelled out in their contracts. Susan Wiles, Delaney's chief of staff, said those penalties would help guarantee noise is limited."

http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/...7/Thuleadl.html

More on the amphitheater and St Nicholas.

"We want the music acts it will attract like Billy Joel, Elton John, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. These performers are bypassing Jacksonville for Orlando, Tampa and Miami because we don't have a big enough venue.

The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra's Starry Nights Concerts we have come to love, and the 18-yearold jazz festival that is so much a part of our fabric, will be protected and given the chance to become financially and artistically viable, helping to ensure their futures.

I want to see the residents of St. Nicholas and their nearby neighbors receive the firm assurances they need about noise.

However, I think people who choose to live in and near the downtown of a growing city should not think they can pretend to reside among the silent pastures of rural farmland."

The gripes the church had were in regard to the acts that the ampitheater would attract.

"Parmelee also had reservations about noise and concerns that the amphitheater would attract performers with indecent acts and sexually explicit lyrics.

Delaney said he will try to do as much as he can to prevent indecent acts from performing at the amphitheater. In negotiating a contract with the company chosen to run the facility, Delaney said he will include a clause that bars the company from bringing acts that are unacceptable to the community.

Then came the pastor of Jacksonville's largest church, who doesn't want taxes spent on a rock 'n' roll palace.

Mullaney has defended his approach, promising that the details will come once he has a formal package ready for the council. His first priority has been quelling opposition from St. Nicholas, First Baptist Church and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra.

''We are not talking about censorship,'' Delaney said. ''We are simply talking about a decent facility with decent acts.''

Councilman Eric Smith said he has been in favor of the project ''from Day One.'' He said he thinks 12 to 14 council members support the project.

Smith said he is confident the new amphitheater will at least break even financially and that it will enhance the quality of the arts in Jacksonville."

Of course there is this story.

http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/...et_7046400.html

"First Baptist doesn't just sit on the sidelines," said Paul McCormick, a Jacksonville public relations consultant who has run scores of Duval County political ampaigns. "It engages in promoting politics and spirituality as partners."

The church and its members have dallied in public policy at times -- they are partially credited with derailing plans for a downtown amphitheater amidst concerns it would host family-unfriendly performances. The mayor talks regularly with Vines, including consulting with him before announcing the Better Jacksonville Plan and publicly supporting the church's development plans.

"Anytime [Mayor John Delaney] did anything he thought would be controversial, he contacted them," said a former Delaney administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "There's no question that their opinions of city initiatives are very important to the mayor."

Undoubtedly, though, Delaney has kept Vines close, especially on matters of downtown development

When church leaders blasted a 1997 concert by controversial Goth rocker Marilyn Manson at the Jacksonville Coliseum -- prompting more than 800 calls, faxes and e-mails to City Hall -- Delaney supported their protest march. Delaney's chief of staff at that time, Susie Wiles, called it the most intense barrage of public opinion the administration had faced.

"When Marilyn Manson came through, I went to the mayor on that issue, and the mayor took a strong position with me," Vines said. "Legally we didn't prevent him coming, but I think we put him out of business because he said he'd never come to Jacksonville again."

The outcry came only two months after the late Rev. Homer Lindsay, Vines' legendary predecessor at First Baptist's pulpit, lobbied intensely against plans to build a privately run amphitheater at Metropolitan Park.

It is not the finances that I am concerned with, but with the ungodly teaching and example of these rock groups that would come to town," Lindsay wrote in a letter to Delaney. "The message in most of the rock music today is totally opposed to everything that we are seeking to teach them."

Most of the church members who have won office, however, concede receiving some kind of boost -- at least indirectly -- from the network of like-minded voters and seasoned campaigners they connect with at First Baptist.

"When I decided to run for office, I went to see [apparent state Sen.-elect] Steve Wise and ... he helped me," said Duval Clerk of Courts Jim Fuller, a former state representative and a deacon at the church. "If you're somewhere where there's not any one of those folks, where there's no politicians at all, how would you get started? It's just influence and knowing people who can help you run."

If widespread rumors are true about Soud's mayoral ambitions in 2003, McCormick said the longtime First Baptist member would enter the race with an immediate base of 13 to 17 percent of voters.

He also pointed to state Rep. Stan Jordan's 2000 unseating of state Rep. Jim Tullis as an example of the electoral oomph First Baptist can provide. Jordan's campaign raised less than half of Tullis' $166,572, but the former Duval County School Board member won with a powerful grass-roots operation.

"Stan always pulls off these incredible unnoticed campaigns that consistently make him a winner," McCormick said. "It's not just First Baptist, but certainly his church relationship had a great deal to do with his apparent upsetting of Jim Tullis."

McCormick, who has run more than 100 political campaigns in Duval County, said First Baptist also played a vital role in electing Wise, Soud, Fuller and state Rep. Mike Hogan.

"At election time we have a pretty good parade," Vines said. "They all come through to get their 30 seconds on TV."

"Clearly someone running for mayor needs to see Dr. Vines and ought to go to the church," Delaney said. "There is influence there."

But no church compares to First Baptist in the world of politics

"They can direct policy in ways that are not readily apparent."

The following are very active at FBC though many are no longer on their seat and some new seat holders may not be listed.

Glenn Lassiter

Clay County commissioner

A.C. Soud

Circuit Court judge

Clay Yarborough

Duval water supervisor

Jim Fuller

Clerk of courts

Jerry Holland

City Councilman

Ginger Soud

City councilwoman

Mike Hogan

State representative

Stan Jordan

State representative

Steve Wise

State senator-elect

I can get more if more is needed.

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Good research, Viper, but how does objecting to vile, obnoxious acts like Marilyn Manson harm downtown development?? The fact is the new Arena was built and we are getting better shows now. I remember clearly that the main reason the amphitheater, which I supported, was not built was the St. Nicholas neighborhood. As to the Arena, if Delaney consulted Vines before going ahead with Better Jacksonville, Vines must not have objected b/c it all was built. And, as to the members of FBC who are also involved in politics, this stands to reason given the fact that their membership represents a good percentage of the population of Duval County. Shouldnt FBC members be allowed to participate in politics like everyone else? The bottom line is the FBC thing is nothing more than conspiracy theory nonsense that stems from anti-Christian bias.

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Certainly they're qualified to participate in politics. When city government decisions are based on religion or spiritual beliefs is when it could cause tension.

I know I'm going to be asked for specifics and I will try to uncover examples through City Council minutes when I have more time, but my sentiments are not founded in any anti-Christian bias. In fact, I am Catholic. Why is there a religious invocation at the commencement of a City Council meeting when issues to be discussed, for example, include rezoning of a particular piece of land? That implements some type of religious undertone. I didn't realize it was crucical to invoke God's name or to ask for a higher being to guide the councilmembers to sound resolutions. Maybe in a church setting leading in prayer would be perfectly appropriate. Our government is supposed to be secular, but many of the comments made by our leaders indicate otherwise.

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Try to find evidence of the FBC directing the city govt from behind the scenes. As to the invocation, this is also done at the start of sessions of the US House and US Senate as well as courthouses around the country, including the US Supreme Court. Are they controlled by the Baptist Church? By the way, the idea of government being secular in the US is a modern invention (from FDR's day). The US Constitution provides that there will be no state church, as in the Church Of England, in which people had to be members and had compulsary tithes. The Constitution did not set up a form of govt. hostile to religion. Not that this has anything to do with urban development, I just wanted to set the record straight.

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An innvocation before a city or county council meeting is quite common. In fact, you would probably have a hard time finding a city or county that doesn't have an invocation, at least in the South.

Innvocations generally ask for wisdom, guidance, compassion, etc. They are very non-denominational and politically correct from my experience.

Obviously, FBC did have a stronger stance on the amphlitheatre than I had remembered, but I still think the neighborhood opposition was the key factor in it's demise. The important thing is that a better idea (the new arena) came from the controversy and everyone is benefitting from that.

There have been and continue to be a lot of controversies nationwide between religion and rock acts. It's pretty rare for any church to openly take a stand on a municipal public issue otherwise, unless it pertains to Sunday blue laws or something within the church's immediate surroundings.

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Let me make something clear. Just because one suspects and accuses a church of political and civic over-influence and manipulation does not make them a bible basher or anti-religious bias.

It is that form of assumption that blinds one to realities by scoffing at the possibilities.

I found all that in post in less then 20 minutes and just from one site. Their was even an admittance of more influence toward the death of the amphitheater than had been lead to believe. How can one ignore what I found? If they had a bigger hand in the amphitheater, imagine what else they have had direct/indirect influence for.

"But no church compares to First Baptist in the world of politics"

"They can direct policy in ways that are not readily apparent."

These are words spoken to FTU. Not by common residents but by some council members, state representatitves and more.

The $2.2 Billion Dollar BJP had passed because of voters, not city council. The FBC doesn't have influence over the voters as it does the council.

Vicupstate, did you know the city concil member from St Nicholas that started the petition against the amphitheater is a highly regarded member of FBC? As were 90% of the signees? As was said by Mike Tolbert of FTU, "people who choose to live in and near the downtown of a growing city should not think they can pretend to reside among the silent pastures of rural farmland." FBC has been working very hard to ensure Jacksonville remains off the map.

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Let me make something clear.  Just because one suspects and accuses a church of political and civic over-influence and manipulation does not make them a bible basher or anti-religious bias. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I don't want to get involved in a debate. First of all, I think that a church really should not get involved in politics and vice-versa. My point is that Jacksonville really should not let the church stand in its way for the development of downtown unless the city encroaches on the church. First Baptist has been in downtown for a long time and should never be forced to either move or reduce its campus. That is something that would never happen but I just made the point about it. A little something about your statement above. The same can also be true for someone critiquing anything, including not supporting gay marriage. I am just clairifying that your statement can go both ways and people doing either should not be called a bible-basher or a anti-gay bigot.

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^Agreed.

It's not a bash, just an observation or opinion. I also believe the church should not encrouch upon political and civic actions. The church is for the benefit of the people, yes, but not everyone wants their input. It's for the benefit of the people that seek it, it should not seek you.

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"But no church compares to First Baptist in the world of politics"

"They can direct policy in ways that are not readily apparent."

These are words spoken to FTU.  Not by common residents but by some council members, state representatitves and more. 

Vicupstate, did you know the city concil member from St Nicholas that started the petition against the amphitheater is a highly regarded member of FBC?  As were 90% of the signees?  As was said by Mike Tolbert of FTU, "people who choose to live in and near the downtown of a growing city should not think they can pretend to reside among the silent pastures of rural farmland."  FBC has been working very hard to ensure Jacksonville remains off the map.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That first quote is from the reporter who wrote the article, not an elected official. The exact qoute is " They have gone forth, like no other church in the region, into the world of politics. Your paraphase makes it sound as if FBC is without equal in the world for their intrusion into politics.

The second quote is from a defeated state rep who lost to an FBC member. Her comments could be sour grapes. I know nothing about her, but I do know 1992 was a presidential election year. Did she lose because she was a Democrat running when Bush 41 was taking a big win? That was the first election after redistricting for the 1990 census, did she get the shaft from that? Who knows. Her comments alone do not convince me.

If one reads the ENTIRE article, you learn other tidbits..

* Paul McCormick stated that Ginger Soud would start her Mayoral run with a base of 13-17%. In reality she only won 2-3%. I guess even FBC members were turned off by her stance against the Tree ordinance.

* FBC's Rev. Lindsay probably elected Tommy Hazouri by endorsing his OPPONENT.

* Bruce Barcelo, a conservative political analyst is quoted as saying these comments:

"They rarely say anything, but their looming presence kept them in line. If you have a veto, you don't have to use it very often."

Despite that presence, Barcelo said, the church keeps a decidedly low profile in public affairs.

"There is this notion that they are so powerful," he said, "but I've never seen that muscle flexed."

From reading these articles, my conclusions are that FBC rarely cares what happens at city hall. When a certain subject (Rock concerts) arise that offends it, the church makes it's views known. Such occasions are rare and otherwise the church and it's pastor makes a conscious effort not to appear to be political. FBC is not alone in wielding influence as Bethel Baptist is promenient in local politics as well.

Additionally, being widely perceived as the "FBC candidate" can be a liability as much as an asset.

No doubt, FBC CAN influence local policy to some degree. But the perception that nothing happens in Jax without FBC's stamp of approval, just hasn't been proven to me.

What is your source on the statement that 90% of the petiton signers were FBC members? I'm sure plenty of St. Nicholas residents signed that weren't FBC members.

Ginger Soud and Jerry Holland are now off city council. Are any of the new council memebers FBC members? Even then, they were only 2 of 19.

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The bottom line is Jacksonville is primarily a conservative, Christian community and always has been. First Baptist is simply the largest church and therefore the most visual manifestation of this. The conservative leaders ran the film makers out of town b/c of their alleged misbehavior in the teens, for example. As a conservative Christian, this characteristic of Jacksonville does not bother me. I also enjoy travel to Europe and drinking a cocktail, and I dont personally see any conflict between urban development and conservatism. Perhaps we have less show bars and bars and porn dealers, but are we really less of a city because of it? Anyway, my point is you cant blame FBC for the conservative bent of the city.

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I paraphrased nothing. Everything was quoted word for word EXCEPT the final comments of which I cannot give a source as it's not text based.

Also, no one said they have a hand in everything. Just that they have their hand in more than they should...which to me is any politics and civic action.

Don't you find it strange the FTU themselves would do an article on the influence of the FBC if there wasn't something substantial there worth investigating and printing?

I'm also not blaming the FBC on the city's conservative traits. I just think it has enough on its own without needing more from the FBC. I'm a conservative myself yet I want my city run by my elected leaders, no puppets, no strings, no masterminds behind the scenes, just let the people, the businesses and those WE put in charge handle the job.

I'd feel this same way if any other large organization of any kind had such a stong influence.

Take the bible out of the equation. It's the simple act of something else besides my elected officials calling some of the shots.

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I'm a conservative myself yet I want my city run by my elected leaders, no puppets, no strings, no masterminds behind the scenes, just let the people, the businesses and those WE put in charge handle the job.

I'd feel this same way if any other large organization of any kind had such a stong influence.

Take the bible out of the equation.  It's the simple act of something else besides my elected officials calling some of the shots.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I completely agree. I don't want the unelected-powers-that-be to call the shots either, whether it's FBC, KB Homes, the Home Builders association, the Firefighters Union, etc.

My objection was to using FBC as an excuse to do nothing. Too often people think "you can't do that in Jax, because FBC won't allow it". You're beaten before you even start with an attitude like that.

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