BARNEGAT, NJ – The phrase “God, Guns and Guts” has been around for at least three decades. Locally, it surfaced when Mayor John Novak announced his intentions to run in the third congressional race. At last night’s township committee meeting, officials showed their support for both God and guns.

During the time allotted for committee members to provide reports, Committeeman Al Cirulli gave an update on the controversy on the LGBTQ curriculum. During his tenure as mayor last year, Cirulli blasted a new law requiring public schools to supplement their curriculum with contributions made by LGBTQ community members.

The then mayor’s remarks received national attention with much of the focus on his characterization of the LGBTQ political movement. Cirulli called it an “affront to almighty God with the intent of trying to completely eradicate God’s law.”

Sign Up for Barnegat/Waretown Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Since August of last year, Cirulli, a retired educator, has taken on a personal crusade. While acknowledging that local government can’t modify state law requirements, the committeeman wants things changed. At the very least, Cirulli would like parents to have the ability to opt their children out of the curriculum.

“I’ve been going around statewide speaking at different boards of education with groups to protect children,” Cirulli shared last night. “As we’ve discussed in the past, the new law is a complete violation of First Amendment rights.”

According to Cirulli, the subject matter infringes on the religious rights of parents on how they raise their children. The committeeman also shared information concerning a tenured teacher in one of the school districts he visited.

“He (the teacher) asked to be excused from an LGBTQ learning class because of his religious convictions,” said Cirulli. “He was suspended without pay for his refusal to go.”

The Barnegat committeeman reported that the teacher plans to bring a major lawsuit. Cirulli feels it is the first of many to come in the future.  However, the curriculum isn’t the only thing coming under fire.

Cirulli pointed out what he sees as issues with transgender laws in other states, where “young men say they are now females.” Controversy has surfaced in competitive sporting events that are changing record achievements. The committeeman sees changes in direct conflict of Title IX, which gave women an equal opportunity in sports. Girls may lose out on scholarships as a result.

“A male is a male, and 99.9% of the times is stronger,” Cirulli said. “This is because of the density to the bones and the presence of testosterone.”

Cirulli reiterated his plea for residents to call local legislators and ask them to repeal the LGBTQ curriculum requirement law. He said the “fiasco” would cost millions to both boards of education and the state.

Of the less than twenty community members at the township’s monthly meeting, only one addressed Cirulli’s comments. Barnegat resident Charles Cunliffe himself served in local government for twelve years. This morning, Cunliffe announced he is seeking signatures to put his name on the ballot for a township committee seat.

 Although he had questions on other issues, he targeted one of his remarks to Cirulli through the chair. “I am exercising my First Amendment rights,” said Cunliffe. “I believe Mr. Cirulli is passionate about the issue and has deep feelings about it.”

“However, along with the First and Second Amendment rights, there’s long been a theory in government that there should be a separation of church and state,” Cunliffe continued. “Even if it’s a deeply held religious belief on Mr. Cirulli’s behalf, I do not feel this is the time or place – from the committee dais for the comments to made.”

Cirulli respectfully disagreed with Cunliffe’s admonishment.  Most of the other commentators during the public session spoke on a resolution regarding the Second Amendment.

Committee Passes Resolution on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms

“I don’t know if we’d have a First Amendment if we didn’t have a Second Amendment,” shared Novak. “I am a lifetime member of the NRA and am unabashedly proud of both constitutional amendments.”

Novak stressed the importance the founders placed on the right to keep and bear arms.  The mayor then read from the language of Resolution 2020-145. Barnegat joins other Ocean County municipalities and the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders in passing resolutions regarding the Second Amendment.

The resolution states that Barnegat intends to “uphold the Second Amendment, the rights of the citizens..., and opposes unconstitutional restrictions on that right to keep and bear arms...”  Included as part of the consent agenda, the resolution passed unanimously.

Prior to the vote, several community members spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting. Jay Butow, of Lacey, identified himself as part of the Ocean County 2A Sanctuary group. The organization looked for local backing after state government ignored their efforts.

"We are making resolutions available for citizens to send into their local government to be signed by county and Townships to show support of our Second Amendment and oppose any new restrictions," Butow said. "While we would like to have sanctuary the same as Virginia, we know that is not possible here. That is why we decided to go the resolution route." 

Second Amendment sanctuary is also known as gun sanctuary. Supporters seek relief such as those afforded in so-called “sanctuary cities” where immigration policies and enforcement are resisted. Proponents of 2A sanctuary are opposed to any new laws that place restrictions on their right to keep and bear arms.