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« Invisibility and Reverse Light The RantsHey, You're The One With All The Dirty Pictures! »

Truer Words Ne'er Spoken
2006.05.27 (Sat) 12:12

One of our favorite quotes this week comes from Capt. Rational (whose blog you should also check out), who was responding to Ed's post concerning a majority Christian senior class at a Kentucky high school taking it upon themselves to use a so-called "prayer" as a weapon to publicly and viciously attack a Muslim student whose only crime was to demand a bit of non-discriminatory treatment. The good Captain put it most excellently:

[The Christian neo-conservatives are] also fond of saying people like me are offended by their religion, which we're not. I'm just bothered by the fact that they're dicks about it.

Bingo. Pay attention, religiosos: we don't give a shit what imaginary friends you want to believe in. We don't give a shit how much of your precious time you want to devote to those imaginary friends. We don't give a shit how you wish to express that devotion, so long as you don't fuck with somebody else to do it. But please, for the love of whatever deity you proudly declare your allegiance to, stop being such total dicks about it. Seriously. That's why you don't make any headway with non-believers, and that's why we're quite often complete dicks right back at you.

A big part of the problem is actually that nobody has been a complete dick to the neo-cons for a very long time — for all their cries of "persecution," it's an obvious fact that they're the top dogs in this country (and many others), and they have been for quite a while now. If more people would be dicks back at them, maybe they'd get the fucking hint.

Just as one wonderful example of how a "taste of their own medicine" might set fundies straight, Big C directed us to — hold on to your hats — a WorldNetDaily Letter of the Week from one Gary Christenot, an evangelical Christian who was assigned to Hickam Air Force Base on Oahu, and whose children attended school in Wahiawa. In his own words:

Let me start by saying I am an evangelical Christian and have pretty hard-core beliefs about the rights of individuals, particularly students, to express their faith...

You might be surprised then to learn that I am adamantly opposed to teachers and other school officials leading students in prayer or the conduct of prayer rituals, even by students, at officially sanctioned events.

...I was not at all initially surprised when a voice came over the PA and asked everyone to rise for the invocation. I had been through this same ritual at many other high-school events and thought nothing of it, so to our feet my wife and I stood, bowed our heads, and prepared to partake of the prayer. But to our extreme dismay, the clergyman who took the microphone and began to pray was not a Protestant minister or a Catholic priest, but a Buddhist priest who proceeded to offer up prayers and intonations to god-head figures that our tradition held to be pagan.

...To continue to stand and observe this prayer would represent a betrayal of our own faith and imply the honoring of a pagan deity that was anathema to our beliefs. To sit would be an act of extreme rudeness and disrespect in the eyes of our Japanese hosts and neighbors, who value above all other things deference and respect in their social interactions. I am sorry to say that in the confusion of the moment we chose the easier path and elected to continue to stand in silence so as not to create a scene or ill will among those who were seated nearby.


We often advocate the practice of Judeo-Christian rituals in America's public schools by hiding behind the excuse that they are voluntary and any student who doesn't wish to participate can simply remained seated and silent.... But if I, as a mature adult, would be so confounded and uncomfortable when faced with the decision of observing and standing on my own religious principals or run the risk of offending the majority crowd, I can only imagine what thoughts and confusion must run through the head of the typical child or teenager, for whom peer acceptance is one of the highest ideals.

...before you yearn for the imposition of prayer and similar rituals in your public schools, you might consider attending a football game at Wahiawa High School. Because unless you're ready to endure the unwilling exposure of yourself and your children to those beliefs and practices that your own faith forswears, you have no right to insist that others sit in silence and complicity while you do the same to them. I, for one, slept better at night knowing that because Judeo-Christian prayers were not being offered at my children's schools, I didn't have to worry about them being confronted with Buddhist, Shinto, Wiccan, Satanic or any other prayer ritual I might find offensive.

You see — Gary gets it. It's not about whose religion is most popular, or which religion our country was "founded" on (as the fundies love to incorrectly claim), or your scheduled prayers being voluntary or not. It's a matter of respect, fairness, and comfort. In any environment in which attendance is mandatory — like a public school — the establishment must treat all attendees fairly, with respect paid to each person's rights to believe as they will. A "captive audience" may traditionally be the most receptive — but do you really want the targets of your Jesus-fishing to accept your god only because they have no other alternative? Whatever happened to free will?

When Gary found himself the target of overbearing discriminatory behavior, rather than the perpetrator, it all clicked into place. His letter is well-written and well-reasoned (for the most part), all the more so for being shaped by personal experience. If more Christians could see discrimination through the eyes of those who really are being left out of any consideration, maybe they'd all figure it out — just like Gary Christenot did.

And maybe we'd have a few less dicks to worry about.

— • —
[  Filed under: % Religion  ]

Comments (2)

ed, 2006.05.29 (Mon) 04:38 [Link] »

That's an excellent point. I also remember from that article that the valedictorian made many references to how her faith in the lord jesus helped her get top marks. While of course people have the right to say if they want, I wonder how the crowd would have reacted if instead the speaker had stated her abilities in school came from absolutely rejecting the idea of a deity, and that her faith in science and reason had seen her through. I doubt there would have been as many supportive comments in the conservative press about her being courageous in speaking her mind.

Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2006.06.08 (Thu) 16:43 [Link] »

Well, ed, as you know "speaking your mind" is only a good thing if what's on your mind promotes Jesus. It's the same as how "activist judges" are the ones who rule against theocracy, while those judges who take the same actions in favor of Jesus are "upholding the Constitution."

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