Double As Preachers
From: Kris Nielsen
To: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: September 30, 2001 5:26 AM
Subject: Principals Should Not Double as Preachers
September 29, 2001
Hello again Cliff!
I admit, I am the chief receiver and responder of SPAM. Here is another one that I tore apart.
Unfortunately, I don't have the exact date this took place. All I know is that it did, in fact, happen sometime around the end of 2000.
This statement comes from a person who, in my opinion, should not be in the position of running a school. As a principal, one should not be using personal religious convictions where impartial, generic teaching practices should be in effect. Education should be helping children know how to use their minds, not telling them what to think. This principal obviously does not realize this and therefore, in my book, is not worthy of the title, "educator".
This is a statement that was read over the PA system at the football game at Roane County High School in Kingston, Tennessee by school principal Jody McLoud, on September 1, 2000. It clearly shows just how far this country has gone in the wrong direction.
What exactly do fundamentalists mean when they say this? The wrong direction? Is it because not every student in the public school system is legally bound to believe in Jesus? Is it because if a child does not want to -- or have a need to -- pray in school that he isn't forced into disciplinary counseling?
This country began going in the wrong direction in the middle of the twentieth century when anti-Communist fundamentalists slipped the "under God" into our Flag's pledge and starting minting "In God We Trust" onto our currency. The quest for salvation in Christ has never been this nation's ultimate agenda. Freedom always has been. To say that Christians are victimized because they are not allowed to proselytize openly in school to children of Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, atheism, humanism, etc., is the ultimate sign of intolerance and arrogance; the ultimate sign of our country moving in the wrong direction.
In my opinion, the acts that took place during the mid-1900's were blatant violations against the law contained in the Constitution. The authors of this founding document were very specific about keeping the government from establishing a national religion. For some reason, Christians tend to ignore history when trying to establish theirs as the national religion.
"It has always been the custom at Roane County High School football games to say a prayer and play the National Anthem to honor God and Country. Due to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, I am told that saying a prayer is a violation of Federal Case Law.
As I understand the law at this time, I can use this public facility to approve of sexual perversion and call it an alternate lifestyle, and if someone is offended, that's OK.
The first example this "educator" uses is one of bigotry and intolerance. I know that homosexuality is considered an abomination in the Christian fundamentalist circles. I don't know why, but I'm aware of the ties that this lifestyle apparently has to the Christian "devil".
Again, an educator should promote diversity, and should not slander and degrade it.
I can use it to condone sexual promiscuity by dispensing condoms and calling it safe sex. If someone is offended, that's OK. I can even use this public facility to present the merits of killing an unborn baby as a viable means of birth control.
If someone is offended, no problem.
And here, our principal points to the biggest contradiction that exists in Christian morals that I can think of. Do we educate our kids about safe sex and the use of condoms to prevent pregnancy and spread of disease? Or do we throw out condoms and contraceptives and support abortion? Because, sorry folks, you can't ban sex education and abortion at the same time and have satisfactory results.
I agree that abstinence is the only way to be sure. So sex education (or promiscuity education, however you prefer to call it) should be part of the required high school curriculum. But you can beat it into a kid's head, and he or she may still have sex against your wishes. So where is your strongest priority? Banning safe sex or banning abortion? In reality, you can't have both.
I can designate a school day as earth day and involve students in activities to religiously worship and praise the goddess, mother earth, and call it ecology.
Do Christians not promote the preservation of our planet? I've heard from Christians that someday Jesus will come and take care of all of the ills we've caused, so why should we take care of Earth? So I guess that explains some of it. But where does the idea come from that Earth Day is a paganistic holiday that circles around the worship of a goddess? I can answer that: from paranoid Christians who need yet another excuse to shoot down other religions who might be competing for supreme power and dominion in the U.S., although I know of not one Earth religion that has this on their itinerary.
Earth Day was designed in 1969 -- by Senator Gaylord Nelson, not pagan religions -- to be a day of national and international awareness of the problems we've caused to our environment and the threatened vitality of future generations.
I can use literature, videos and presentations in the classroom that depict people with strong, traditional Christian convictions as simple-minded and ignorant and call it enlightenment.
The Enlightenment was a great time in history when freethinkers opened their minds to the universe and learned new, systematic ways to understand it. Not many have officially claimed that the "ignorance" of Christians brought on this Enlightenment. It was the natural need for the human mind to expand itself beyond religious boundaries. The "trashing" of Christianity was an effect of the Enlightenment, not the cause.
Furthermore, it was not the "convictions" of Christians that were challenged. It was the dogmas of the religions as wholes. When new ideas were discovered using scientific methods, the Church (I refer to the Catholic Church, being the supreme power at the time) went out of its way to denounce these discoveries. Either that or they would shape and adapt dogma to fit the discovery into "that which they already knew".
In any case, I have yet to see any curricular media that points to Christians as simple-minded and ignorant. Again, paranoia on their part.
However, if anyone uses this facility to honor God and ask Him to bless this event with safety and good sportsmanship, Federal Case Law is violated.
I understand that Christians may see this act of "honor[ing] God and ask[ing] him to bless this event" as benign at worst, beneficial at best. But why do they feel the need to blanket an entire group of people with Christian prayer. You can honor the school's pride, your national pride, or the academic victories of the students in this facility. Everyone in the school will probably fit into loyalty with those agendas. But not everyone is Christian. Not everyone wants to or has reason to honor God. If you want to pray alone, or with a private group of Christians, fine. If the team wants to pray for their safety in the locker room, fine. But the umbrella mentality is unfair and has got to go.
This appears to be inconsistent at best, and at worst, diabolical. Apparently, we are to be tolerant of everything and anyone except God and His Commandments. Nevertheless, as a school principal, I frequently ask staff and students to abide by rules which they do not necessarily agree. For me to do otherwise would be inconsistent at best, and at worst, hypocritical. I suffer from that affliction enough unintentionally. I certainly do not need to add an intentional transgression.
Again, I question why this person is in an educator's position. This statement is false logic.
1) God made rules for Christians to follow.
2) The school system made rules for students and staff to follow.
3) The school expects staff and students to follow their rules.
4) I should expect everyone to follow God's Word and His Commandments.
Public education, in general, sets up rules and regulations that are applicable to, in theory, all students. They come from lawmakers and committees that we know exist and are available for questioning. Dress codes, conduct codes, weapons codes, etc., are established to provide a protective and productive learning atmosphere for students in general. Establishing some mandatory prayer clause is against those interests. This idea does not provide a general benefit to all students, nor is it one of the biblical "rules" of God. Not all people have a belief in the Maker of these laws, and He certainly isn't available for discussion.
Prayer in schools would lead to many problems such as discrimination and violence and would expectedly raise the dropout rates while lowering grades (this, of course, has never been studied, but it's a good prediction coming from one who comes from a long line of educators).
For this reason, I shall, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's," and refrain from praying at this time. However, if you feel inspired to honor, praise and thank God, and ask Him in the name of Jesus to bless this event, please feel free to do so. As far as I know, that's not against the law -- -- yet."
Here is the one part of the speech that I agree with. If you are indeed in need of prayer before a public event, then feel free to pray to your god(s). But to force a prayer onto all attending is unethical, immoral, and un-American.
And, one by one, the people in the stands bowed their heads, held hands with one another, and began to pray. They prayed in the stands. They prayed in the team huddles. They prayed at the concession stand. And they prayed in the announcer's box.
Sounds a little too "happy ending" to me. I'm sure many did bow and pray, considering the county lies in the heart of the fabled "Bible Belt". But I have doubts that every person began to pray, unless they felt the fear of being singled out while surrounded by riled-up Christians.
The only place they didn't pray was in the Supreme Court of the United States of America-
This is a statement of blind resentment without knowledge; it doesn't even deserve a comment.
the seat of "justice" in the one nation under God.
There they go again, bending the truth to further their convictions. This country has only been "under God" since the 1950's, when anti-Communist radicals slipped that phase into our Pledge of Allegiance, which used to say, "...One nation, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All." That was about the same time our coins began boasting the "In God We Trust" phrase, even though 13% of Americans proclaim to not trust in any gods. And do they really believe that the United States is the only country that believes it is "under God"?
Somehow, Kingston, Tennessee, remembered what so many have forgotten.... we are given the freedom OF religion, not the freedom FROM religion.
Another misinterpretation. Do you honestly think that the architects of this nation, believing that all humans had equal and certain unalienable rights would have suggested that people don't have the freedom to live without religion? It says nowhere in our Constitution that you have the right to have religion either, in so many words. The point is, the dismissal of freedom from religion by Christians is simply another handy interpretation to further their convictions through extreme bigotry.
Celebrate Jesus in 2001. Jesus said, "if you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my Father." If you are not ashamed, pass this on ...
This is off topic, but I'll repond to the above as well. If I -- being a human in possession of such emotions as shame -- showed that I was ashamed to be a so-called "Bible Thumper" and I knew that my godly Lord was ashamed of me too, I would have to rethink my faith. When I was a Christian, I didn't think that retribution and tattle-telling were characteristic of a perfect being.
I still don't.
Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2006 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.