BARNEGAT, NJ – Earlier this month, the Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey held its annual family gala, touted as a “place for like-minded Christian’s throughout New Jersey to re-energize their efforts in building a state where God is honored, religious liberty flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished.” This year’s event featured an award to a local dignitary, Barnegat Mayor Alfonso “Al” Cirulli.

Shawn Hyland, Director of Advocacy for the Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey, offered some insight into the award and the group itself. According to Hyland, 1500 churches in New Jersey of different denominations are members of New Jersey’s Alliance. The group’s affiliation extends nationally.

“I met Al Cirulli for the first time at Barnegat’s National Day of Prayer in May of this year,” shared Hyland. However, it wasn’t that passing introduction that led Hyland to make a recommendation to the Alliance’s Board of Advisors. A few months later, something else surfaced that prompted Hyland’s suggestion that Cirulli deserved the legislative award reserved for elected government officials.

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In expressing his opposition to a new law that requires public educators to integrate school curriculums with contributions of members of the LGBTQ community, the Barnegat mayor said it was his duty to let constituents know about it. Cirulli’s comments at an August 2019 Township Committee meeting received national attention.

“State or federal government has no right to interfere with the religious upbringing or sexual indoctrination of alternative lifestyles concerning our children,” Cirulli said at that meeting. “Politicians have no right to promote the LGBTQ agenda with laws that are intended to destroy religious freedom.”

Hyland said Cirulli’s bold leadership and his courage to speak out against opposing viewpoints led him to recommend the Barnegat mayor for the Guardian of the Family Elected Official award.

“We encourage all other mayors and legislators to follow Mayor Al’s lead in bringing awareness to families,” shared Hyland. Meanwhile, the Alliance continues to garner support on their own. They’ve already collected over 3500 signatures on a petition that asks for an amendment to the law that goes into effect in the next school year.

“Parents should have the ability to opt their children out of the curriculum,” Hyland stressed.

On a local level, Cirulli’s presentation at the August meeting brought out mixed reactions. At the September Township Committee meetings, tempers flared in support and opposition to the Barnegat mayor’s objections.

However, Cirulli’s convinced that more people agree with him than not. And, he’s not stopping in what he views as his protection of first amendment rights.

“We are going to fight this until this law gets overturned,” vowed Cirulli. “There are a still a tremendous number of parents who were not aware that these changes were going into effect – or that they can’t opt out on behalf of their children.”

Cirulli appears to be the first elected official to speak out against the proposed curriculum changes.  Subsequently, Alloway Township’s Mayor Ed McKelvey, also an ordained pastor at the Christian Life Center in Pennsville spoke out against the proposed legislation. He recently delivered a sermon discussing his intentions to join with other churches concerning the “fight to protect our children.”

Although McKelvey is non-specific in this particular sermon, another video was reportedly removed from the church’s website. Some stormed a meeting within that community and called for the mayor’s resignation after learning of McKelvey’s sermon.

In the meantime, it’s not just the Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey that commends Cirulli for his boldness and commitment. Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham, used Twitter to come out in support of the local mayor. Graham’s tweet, “Love this guy- he’s got a lot of guts!” received over 6.7K likes.

“There’s no doubt that this is indoctrination,” insists Cirulli. “That is the goal.”

Stephanie A. Faughnan is a local journalist and Director of Writefully Inspired, a professional writing and resume service. Feel free to contact her at sfaughnan@tapinto.net.