Conservatives came out by the dozens in a Bergen County borough, crying foul over a councilwoman’s Easter-themed meme. The word-heavy image has been received as either religiously offensive or mocking culture war points, depending on the audience.

Paula Gilligan is a member of the municipality's all-Democratic and all-women governing body.

Gilligan recently shared the meme to her personal Instagram story.

“Easter eggs are aborted chicken babies that are painted in drag for small children to worship.”

The image was then shared on social media and met with anger by locals who said it was anti-Christian. A screenshot was featured in a TapInto report. 

The backlash prompted a joint apology from the council and mayor, which was shared to the borough's website and social media pages.

“This post invoked Easter, the holiest day of the year in the Christian calendar, in a point about two issues that have nothing to do with Easter. As Mayor and members of the Borough Council, we want to apologize to everyone who was offended by this post,” the statement said.

"We all feel very strongly that everyone’s religious beliefs and traditions must be treated with respect. They should not be the subject of jokes or inflammatory social media posts."

Glen Rock Census data
(Canva, Townsquare Media, Google Maps)

“That is even more true when the social media post is made by an elected official, because we are here to represent and support all Glen Rockers of all religious beliefs and backgrounds. We understand how important Easter and the symbols of Easter are to the many Glen Rockers who celebrate,” the joint statement said.

About a hundred people attended Wednesday’s regularly scheduled borough council meeting — including some from neighboring Fair Lawn — and over a dozen spoke about the meme, TapInto reported.

Vocal critics included ex-council members and candidates such as Republican Michelle Torpey, who lost her bid for a full term in November 2019.

Torpey was quoted by TapInto as saying that Catholic children who read the meme had asked her “Do people not love us here?"

Read More: NJ school board member accused of transphobic Twitter account

Glen Rock Municipal Building
(Google Maps)

NJ elected officials and free speech

It’s the latest argument to erupt in NJ over potential limitations to a local elected official’s free speech rights.

In Hunterdon County, elected regional school board member Rebecca Petersen faced lawsuits, complaints and ethics complaints in connection with statements called transphobic.

Petersen’s attorney told that “mob rule” had allowed the board to “violate the civil rights of a speaker because they disagree with the speaker’s point of view.”

In Petersen’s case, allegations involved a Twitter account that was never fully verified as under her control.

She has remained on the school board.

Read More: NJ school district discriminating against moms, state says

ARCHIVE 2009 in Washington, DC, anti abortion demonstrators (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
ARCHIVE 2009 in Washington, DC, anti abortion demonstrators (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Reaction to 'absurdity of personhood laws'

After the initial uproar over the Glen Rock Easter-timed meme, Gilligan later said she took aim at "the absurdity of 'personhood' laws,” as 40 bills with personhood language have been proposed in 16 states.

“Personhood language refers to legal language that would codify the dangerous notion that from the moment of fertilization, an egg should be legally recognized as a person with full constitutional rights," she said.

Alabama’s recent ruling that frozen embryos are considered children was among such national struggles with reproductive rights, Michigan Advance reported. 

The Glen Rock council message was shared on behalf of Mayor Kristine Morieko, Council President Jill Orlich and Council Members Mary Barchetto, Teresa Gilbreath, Amy Martin, Regina Viadro and Gilligan.

Last spring, the borough officials said they believed they are the only all-female local government in the state and possibly the country, reported.

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