FEMA videographer fired for asking women to change faith based t-shirts
A videographer of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was fired recently for asking two women volunteers to change their faith based t-shirts into something more secular, the AP reported.
According to the AP, Angelia Lott and Pamela Wedgeworth, volunteers in a tornado cleanup in Mississippi, were asked by a FEMA videographer to change their t-shirts before doing an on-camera interview. The women wore t-shirts with Salvation Army logos.
The incident happened in the small town of Ebenezer. When Lott asked why, the videographer said “We’ve done that hundreds of times.” The women changed their shirts because they wanted to recruit other volunteers to help in the cause, according to the Baptist Press.
First the women changed into Crossgates Baptist T-shirts, but they were told to change again. Finally, they were allowed to wear Southern Belle shirts, according to the Baptist Press.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate decried the incident in a statement and apologized to Crossgates Baptist and to the Salvation Army. The activity, “Caring for Mississippi-Community Work Day” was co-sponsored by FEMA, the Salvation Army and Jackson television station WJTV, according to the AP.
Volunteers of “Caring for Mississippi — Community Work Day” helped remove tree limbs and clean up other debris from an April 24 tornado that left a 149-mile path of destruction through the state, the AP reported.
Fugate said “FEMA is not the team, FEMA is only part of the team, and critical members of that team are the voluntary and faith-based organizations we work with every day,” according to the AP.
U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., who is a member of Crossgates Baptist said he was distressed to hear volunteers had been asked to hide expressions of their faith.
“I shared with him that we just didn’t want to have a situation where the government would take the position that volunteers from churches had to be something different from what they were, which was faith-based groups coming to help people in need,” Harper said Tuesday night.
Harper said Fugate called to assure him that FEMA does not discriminate against religious groups. He also said Fugate told him the videographer had been fired.