STAFFORD, NJ - Retro Fitness club member and Long Beach Township resident Craig Fasler was escorted by a member of the Stafford Township Police Department out of the gym because an employee accused him of sharing his faith in public.
TAPinto Stafford-LBI was contacted by a Stafford Township resident about the incident that took place on Wednesday, March 21 around 10:30 a.m. at the Retro Fitness gym located on East Bay Avenue in Manahawkin.
After completing his workout Mr. Fasler reports that he was in the locker room and noticed another male club member was in pain.
Mr. Fasler asked, “Are you in pain?”
The man told him that he was experiencing back and knee pain.
Fasler asked, “Would it be all right if I prayed for you because Jesus will heal you right now?”
The man was open and received prayer for his pain. After the prayer, the man said that the pain was gone.
Fasler continued with a conversation with another man who witnessed the incident in the locker room and shared his faith in Christ with him.
Fasler encouraged the man to read a book about Christianity called “More Than A Carpenter” by Josh McDowell.
This book has been read by millions of people around the world introducing people to a personal relationship with Jesus, according to Fasler.
Fasler reports that after the time in the locker room, he saw the man who witnessed the healing talking to another person near the counter.
Fasler said to the young woman “ask him about Jesus removing the pain from his back and knee.”
The female employee who was working behind the counter over heard this.
The worker said to Fasler "you are not allowed to speak about religion here. I am an atheist and you are not allowed to talk about religion and mention the name Jesus in here."
Fasler responded “I was not talking about religion, but a person, Jesus.”
The employee called the owner who instructed her to call the Stafford Township Police.
The police arrived and Fasler was escorted out by a Stafford officer.
Fasler thanked the officer for being very professional and kind. He told the officer, “I don’t get it, there is a guy who had a sore back and knee. I asked him if he would allow me to pray for him. He said yes. I pray for him and he has no more pain. I thought that was a good thing?”
Fasler told the officer “I am sorry that you had to be inconvenienced, this is nuts!”
Fasler concluded by stating to us that “the world is crazy, right is wrong and wrong is right. I pray for a guy, his pain is gone, mention the name of Jesus and I get the police called on me.”
He said that he will be back working out Thursday morning at the gym.
Retro Fitness in Manahawkin refused to comment on this story.
At 8:22 p.m. a man called TAPinto Stafford-LBI claiming to be owner of Retro Fitness in Manahawkin. The person refused to give his last name. The person denies that the employee used term "atheist." Mr. Fasler was called afterward and confirms the quotations in this story.
Also important to note that Stafford-LBI proceeded to the Retro Fitness business to get statement on this story immediately after speaking to Mr. Fasler.
The manager who would not give last name refused comment. TAPinto Stafford-LBI requested that owner please contact us as soon as possible as this was important news for the area. No phone call was ever received before publication of this story.
TAPinto Stafford-LBI stands behind the story as written.
At 8:44 p.m. on March 21, Retro Fitness (Manahawkin) posted to Facebook:
An incident did occur in our facility today, and a " version " of the incident has been published in a local media outlet. It is NOT an accurate account of what happened and I just want all of our members to know our Owners, myself and the entire staff are extremely proud of the diversity of our membership base. No age, sex, religious group or ethnicity is looked at any different from any other. We pride ourselves in being extremely polite, respectful and courteous to ALL members and guests, and will continue to do so going forward.
At 11:06 a.m. on March 22, Retro Fitness (Manahawkin) posted to Facebook:
Retro members- We were and are still in the process of gathering all facts regarding this issue.
We learned of an article that was published in the Tap Into Stafford-LBI. We are continuing to gather facts but wanted to let you know that our members' safety is a number one priority at our gym. In response to some claims in the article, after learning of a potential incident involving certain members, one of our employees contacted local police to ensure that the concerns were properly and appropriately addressed by the authorities. We respect everyone's freedom to express themselves however they choose to and first and foremost we support our members' rights to feel safe and secure while they are using our facilities.
Retro Fitness Manahawkin
Editors Note: 4:35 p.m. Thursday, March 22
NJ 101.5 carried story about Mr. Fasler situation in Retro Gym also. The Stafford Police added their input in this article written by NJ 101.5 FM news service. Link to article is below.
NJ 101.5 reports
Capt. Herman Pharo of the Stafford Township Police Department said police were called to the Retro Fitness on Wednesday for a report of a man disturbing the peace, and not leaving the gym. The man, 66-year-old Craig Fasler, was found near the front desk of the gym and told officers he'd been having a conversation about religion with another man, and prayed for him because he was injured, Pharo said.
Pharo said officers responding to the gym did not witness the incident and, and said Fasler was on his way out as they arrived.
He said there were no charges pressed against Fasler, and that there was no further police involvement in the matter.
Pharo said officers described Fasler as "understanding," although "a little confused that management was asking him to leave."
"I said to the guy, 'I don't get it,' Fasler said. "This guy's in pain and now he's not in pain. I thought that would be a good thing. Then I end up getting the police called on me and escorted off the premises.
The link to NJ 101.5 news article is below
At apporximately 9 a.m. on Sunday, March 26, Retro Fitness (Manahawkin) posted to Facebook:
Retro members, and concerned local residents:
We first would like to thank our supportive members who have waited patiently for our response to an incident that occurred in our facility Wednesday March 21st. Due to the nature of this incident, which we ourselves as well as many of you consider very serious, we wanted to do our due diligence and gather as many facts and statements from members who witnessed the incident, so as to not say anything we believe to be untrue or inaccurate.
On Wednesday March 21st a member ( Craig Fasler ) was escorted out of our facility by local police, he was NOT arrested.
As a gym/health club, we consider ourselves a business of personal health & mental and spiritual well being. Although not technically a " house of prayer " any member, guest or employee who feels a moment of prayer, meditation or reflection is necessary or beneficial to their well being, is not only welcome, but encouraged to do so.
Mr Fasler, after several unsolicited advances upon members of offers to be touched, so as to be " healed " or to join in prayer, was informed they did not wish to do so at that time. Members again had to inform Mr Fasler they did not wish to be touched, prayed for or healed, and that they simply wished to continue their workout and to be left alone. After continuing with said behavior, although he was asked to stop several times by members, an employee intervened and informed Mr Fasler he was making several members feel uncomfortable. He was asked to stop by the employee, he replied he would not stop. He was then informed if he did not stop, he would be asked to leave. He replied he would not leave. It was at this time our employee felt she had no other option, but to call local authorities and let them handle the situation as they deemed necessary.
One other frequently asked question and concern some have, is the use of the word atheist. At no time during this incident was the word atheist ever used.
As always we respect everyone's freedom to express themselves however they choose, and first and foremost we support our members rights to feel safe and secure while they are utilizing our facility.
Retro Fitness Manahawkin
May everyone have a blessed day
Editors Note: Sunday, March 25 2:30 p.m.
Story about Retro Fitness
Tapinto Stafford LBI stands by story. We will include latest update from Retro Fitness.
It is news story when police are involved we report.
We went to Retro for statement immediately after speaking with Mr Fasler.
Manager on duty first name Joe refused to give last name and give statement.
We gave 3 business cards to manager in afternoon hoping to hear from someone.
A man claiming to be owner called us 4.5 hours after our initial visit to Retro.
This man who claimed to be owner claimed he had videotape surveillance.
We know the prayer in locker room would not have video.
It would be helpful if this man claiming to be owner would provide video of front desk area where it is claimed Mr. Fasler was inappropriate.