What Christianity would sacrifice Bill Mutz's values for Ed Shoemaker's values?
Lakeland Christian School "fired" Mayor Bill Mutz from its board because he read a PRIDE proclamation. Bill's willingness to suffer a terrible personal blow is an epic moment in Lakeland's history.
Imagine, as an elite private Christian institution, feeling so much collective contempt for your neighbors and fellow citizens that it causes you to purge from your board a loyal, longtime parent and pillar of your school, who also happens to be the deeply Christian mayor of your city, who was recently re-elected with 67 percent of the vote.
Well, you don’t have to imagine it. It just happened.
Lakeland Christian School just “fired” Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz as a board member because he read a PRIDE proclamation at a recent City Commission meeting. Full paywalled story from The Ledger, here. Full story, no paywall, from Lakeland Now here.
It’s clear that Mutz wanted to stay, but ultimately resigned because LCS couldn’t abide his civic behavior as mayor. Key Ledger excerpt:
"My responsibility as mayor is to serve all citizens of the city," he said. "My role on the board has a Statement of Faith attached, personal values I ascribe to. I can do both, I don't find conflict in that."
LCS said: Nope. It doesn’t matter that all your kids went here; and you’ve worked loyally with us for 20 years. Only our contempt for gay people matters.
This is an earthquake in the civic history of Lakeland — in part because of the behavior of LCS and in larger part because of Bill Mutz’s very Christian commitment to personal suffering in the service of civic conscience.
All of my heroes of history and public life have one thing in common: they suffered personal consequences to protect the vulnerable or include them equally in civil life. Bill has now entered that rarified air for me.
More on his bravery — and what it means for this city — in a moment.
Take “Lakeland” off your name, “Christian School”
First, to reiterate, the city’s most economically elite private religious education institution has declared it no longer wants to associate with the political expression of civic life in the very city whose name it claims the right to use.
LCS has every legal right to do that. It has every right to purge whatever good person it chooses for insufficient lib hatefulness within its private community. If LCS wants to cancel Bill Mutz, I can’t and won’t try to stop it.
But I have the right to hope it changes path and embraces human decency. Our city would benefit if it did.
And until then, we, as Lakeland citizens, have every right to refer to “Lakeland Christian School” simply as “Christian School.”
You clearly have no respect for “Lakeland,” CS, as it exists as a city in full in 2022. So take our name out of your mouth if you loath some of us so much. It’s our city — all of ours — not yours.
And yet, longtime CS employee Jennifer Canady supposedly wants to represent all of Lakeland in the Florida Legislature. Why? She’s part of an institution that rejects the city that CS calls home. Why would she want to serve it? Who else does she plan to “fire” from civic life in our city?
Canady should be asked where her loyalties lie: Lakeland’s people or the closed and vindictive religious dogma of CS? And which values of Bill Mutz, particularly, does she reject?
Her religious institution is “canceling” the mayor because of his open and welcoming civic behavior as the elected mayor. That’s an extraordinary assertion of religious power over civil power. I have zero interest in living as a Lakeland citizen under that kind of warped religious dictatorship.
“Lib-hating Religion Power School” is more accurate
I have less standing to suggest CS also take “Christian” off its name and just go with “School” — or completely rebrand itself as “Lib-hating Religion Power School.”
But that strikes me as a far more appropriate representation of its culture and values.
CS’ behavior does not resemble the Jesus-anchored Christianity my mother and grandmother taught me as a child and young man and that I still admire. I like to think the loving and self-critical principles of Sermon-on-the-Mount Christianity help guide me today, even though I do not actively participate in its earthly churches.
And there is no question in my mind that Bill Mutz is a far better Christian than the CS board or addled men who have become the its biggest cheerleaders in its Mutz purge.
The person who gleefully broke this story, without any attributed sourcing, is the noted Christian thief who stole lawnmowers from Habitat from Humanity and runs the nasty local gossip site “Lakeland Gazette.” I’m not linking to his trash site or giving him my traffic.
His headline was: “Lakeland Christian School Fires Mayor Mutz”
The story was then picked up on social media by Ed Shoemaker, multiple-time failed political candidate (I destroyed him once in a 2016 primary) and current Polk County GOP state committeeman and true voice of the Polk GOP.
Ed Shoemaker’s vicious crankery better embodies 2022’s CS than Bill Mutz. They should appoint him as replacement.
Here is Shoemaker gloating and cheering CS on as it purges the mayor who won 67 percent of the vote in November 2021 — a figure Ed wouldn’t reach if you added all his failed elections together.
Ed Shoemaker, to be blunt, has revealed himself as a vicious crank in the last few years. (He actually used to claim to agree with me on most education issues; and he tried to draft off our education movement. Now he’s drafting off the CCDF or whatever. It’s always for his own personal benefit and status.)
Shoemaker’s brand of fake religious crankery and Capitol Lynch Mob love was explicitly on the ballot for Lakeland in the form of Saga Stevin in November 2021’s mayoral campaign against Bill Mutz.
Our politically purple city very much likes how Republican Mayor Bill Mutz balances his warm personal Christianity with civic inclusiveness and duty, how his religious conscience and civic conscience elegantly co-exist.
“Christian School” does not. It objects to that kind of Christianity — and Republicanism — so fervently that it must purge Bill Mutz over it.
Well, I’m sure Ed Shoemaker and Saga Stevin are willing and available to replace Bill. It’s not like they have anything else to do. Headmaster Mike Sligh and Nepotism Director Jennifer Canady should call them.
Consequence and pain define bravery
Bill and Pam Mutz have so many children it is difficult for me to accurately count them. I think it’s 12; but they may have more.
The Ledger says all the Mutz kids went to the former LCS. The school was a deeply personal, formative part of the Mutz family dynamic. To be crass, God knows how much money Bill Mutz has paid in tuition or contributed as a donor.
For the CS community to set that history on fire, to summarily ex-communicate a deeply religious man from a life-enveloping faith and family community, well …
I sometimes get credit for guts; but I’ve never suffered a personal consequence like that, for all my public trash talk about common good. You can look at and talk to Bill Mutz today and feel the personal sadness and suffering. It must be something like a death in the family.
Sure, if you’re a lib, you might say something about reaping and sowing. But that’s churlish and graceless.
There is nothing harder and more powerful for the common good than standing against one’s own people for the sake of conscience. Again, that’s what my heroes do.
And the suffering itself, the willingness to absorb and endure it, further sanctifies the civic decision to act as a mayor, a leader, for all Lakeland’s people.
Bill’s willingness to suffer will reverberate in our city for a very long time. And I thank him for it. Perhaps, one day, it will serve as a model for a regenerated Christianity at Lakeland Christian School.
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