Ned Coll, right, of Barkhamsted, speaks about his calling as he stands on Route 1 in Greenwich near the New York state line with volunteer Eduardo Rivera on Wednesday, July 6, 2011. Photo: Helen Neafsey / Greenwich TimeMy home state of Connecticut, known as “the Land of Steady Habits,” has a reputation for being a state full of people who don’t like rocking the boat. And it is. But oddly enough, in spite of that, the Nutmeg State has more than its share of annoying gadlfies and cranks who love nothing more than to make pests of themselves and make demands of everyone else. Perhaps the most famous of these is Ralph Nader, a native of Winsted, CT, but there are plenty of other such folks — and thankfully most of them are not anywhere near as well known.

Among these is community organizer-turned-hyperreligious wingnut Ned Coll. The Greenwich Time reports Coll is now waging a crusade to get prayer back into public schools (WebCite cached article):

The divorced father of two from the tiny Litchfield County hamlet of Barkhamsted is adopting the cause of reinstating prayer in public schools.

In the beating July sun and wearing wooden prayer beads from the religious shrine of Fatima in Portugal, Coll waved a sign calling for a spiritual renewal to passing motorists on West Putnam Avenue at the state line.

“Our children are not getting guidance in this nation,” Coll said. “We better start trying to get vocal prayer in all public schools and private homes.”

Coll is consciously repeating his own past activism:

It’s a reprisal of sorts of Coll’s famous hike along the Connecticut coast, where he championed open beach access during the 1970s and 1980s.

I have no idea how he plans to get prayer into public schools, especially since the U.S. Supreme Court has forbidden it — in Engel v. Vitale (1962), which was subsequently backed up by later decisions Wallace v. Jaffree (1985) and Lee v. Weisman (1992). Does Coll really think he’s somehow bigger than the Supreme Court? (My guess is, he does!)

For all his righteousness and professed love of God, Coll curiously has trouble obeying the law. He’s been arrested more than once over the last couple of years, on various minor charges (cached). Also note that this paragon and champion of piety is “twice divorced,” according to the G.T. article. I really love it when brazen fucking hypocrites speak up for Jesus! Don’t you?

One last item of note about Ned Coll: As I said, he was once a community organizer. A professional community organizer. The founder of a Hartford group called the Revitalization Corps. Here’s a short Time magazine profile of him from the early ’70s. That’s right, folks. This militant Christian and staunch advocate for the Religious Right, started out as an urban community organizer … just like someone else whom the R.R. despises for having once been an urban community organizer. Can you guess who that is?

If Coll wants all Americans to pray to his God, then I suggest he starts with me. Come here, Mr Coll, and make me pray. Go ahead. Give it a shot.

Photo credit: Helen Neafsey / Greenwich Time.

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  • will

    First, I'm opposed to prayer in public school. That said, here are my comments:

    1. You left out that Coll "championed open beach access during the 1970s and 1980s" because he wanted African-American and Latino children to have access to Long Island Sound.

    2. Your use of the phrase, "brazen fucking hypocrites" totally negates any arguments that you make. Can't you see that? If your mind is so blinded by anti-religious bigotry that you can't see this, maybe you need to rethink your whole worldview. Can you understand this?

    • Re: "First, I'm opposed to prayer in public school."

      Fantastic! Glad to hear it! I hope you'll stay with that position … however, based on other things you've said (I'll explain below), I doubt this is the truth.

      Re: "You left out that Coll 'championed open beach access during the 1970s and 1980s' because he wanted African-American and Latino children to have access to Long Island Sound."

      Huh? Excuse me? Since when were African-American and Latino children barred from the (several) state-owned and -operated beaches along Long Island Sound? They've always been publicly accessible … to anyone who gets to them. Coll was lying back in the '70s when he said that minorities could not use them. What Coll had truly wanted to do, was for the state to outlaw the private municipal beaches that a lot of the coastal towns had, and worse, for the state to confiscate all municipally- and privately-owned land along the coast and make it all public. Had his wish been granted, pretty much all the municipal beaches around the state (including in inland towns along lakeshores) would have to have been shut down, too. I'm not entirely sure that was too great an idea, especially since he'd purchased a small plot of land in Barkhamsted in order that he could buy permits to get his kids to its private municipal beach at Stanclift Cove. (Yes, I know a great deal more about Mr Coll than I let on. I've resided in northwestern Connecticut most of my life andam quite well-informed about what goes on up here. That includes Mr Coll's shenanigans.)

      Re: "Your use of the phrase, 'brazen fucking hypocrites' totally negates any arguments that you make."

      Why? How? If people truly are "brazen fucking hypocrite," they need to be called "brazen fucking hypocrites," and to call them such, "negates" nothing. I get that you don't like what I said about Mr Coll or the Religious Right, but your personal dislike of what I said is not a logical "negation" of anything. It's just whining on your part, and quite frankly, I don't fucking care whether or not you like what I said.

      Re: "If your mind is so blinded by anti-religious bigotry that you can't see this, maybe you need to rethink your whole worldview."

      Let me get this straight. You claim (above) that you oppose prayer in public schools. But you also contend that the problem here is not that Mr Coll and his ilk want to force public schoolchildren to pray to their deity; it's that I called the guy out on his dour, unrelenting Christofascism, and on the fact that the Religious Right now supports a man whose profession (i.e. community organizer) once was the same as that of the president, whom they deride and mock because he'd worked in that same profession. For you to say this, flies in the face of your previously-stated opposition to public school prayer. It makes no sense for you to say you oppose it, but at the same time condemn me for condemning its proponents and for having called them out on their hypocrisy. It's logically inconsistent on your part.

      Call me skeptical, therefore, about your claim to oppose public school prayer. Quite honestly, I don't believe you on that score.

  • will

    Re: acceptance of others' opinions

    I bet my last comment won't be approved!

    • Re: "… I bet my last comment won't be approved!"

      Huh? Upon what objective, verifiable evidence did you base this prediction? The fact that you dislike what I said? Unfortunately, that's entirely subjective, and is evidence of nothing at all. I expect an apology of you, for having accused me in advance of something I haven't done. Yet, you dare accuse me of being "blinded by anti-religious bigotry"? Sorry to break it to you but your prediction that I wouldn't approve your comments, is a product of you, yourself, being "blinded by anti-agnostic bigotry." I know I won't get an outright apology from you, but the least you could do is admit you were wrong about me.