If Cheerleaders Don’t Convert You, Chuck Norris Will

You know, I always hedge when people ask me where I’m from, because the second I tell them I was born and raised in Texas, all kinds of stereotypes pop up in the conversation.

Yes, I can read.
No, I’m not a Republican.
Yes, I’m a Christian. No, not that kind.
No, I don’t ride horses, own a cow, oil derek or know JR Ewing personally.
And no, I do not think Texas should become its own republic.

But then, stories like this one come along that only serve to reinforce the negative biases against Texans that I try so very hard to debunk. Come on guys, work with me here!

Texas high school cheerleaders recently won a local lawsuit which allows them to continue to pain Bible verse on the large butcher paper banners the football players burst through when storming the field. They also wave “Bible banners” throughout the day. Not surprising, Texas Governor Rick Perry hailed the decision as a landmark of religious liberty. But a guy has to wonder how they’d respond to the Quran represented next to their Bible verses.

Pro-Christian bias aside, I’d be hard pressed to believe such a case would win anywhere other than Texas. After all, the cheerleaders clearly are acting as representatives of the school, and they are doing so at a public event, also sponsored by the school. So what I can’t figure out is how anyone determines this to be anything other than state-sponsored religion. Apparently I’m not the only one scratching their heads, as the case is now headed for federal court.

I tend to agree with the sentiments of Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who said, “When they (the cheerleaders) misuse their public podium to tell a captive audience that some of you have the right religion and the rest of you need to convert, that is not only bad law, that’s bad manners.”

Agreed. The only purpose this serves is to affirm the sentiments of the majority, or perhaps even that of a very vocal minority, and to shout down dissenters and skeptics into silence. Yes, it may make Christians feel really good to see verses from their holy text being smashed through by a bunch of heavily padded teenage boys, but honestly, how many conversions do they expect from this stunt?

Oh, and I’d also humbly add that claiming God is the reason you win a football game is just bad theology. Pretty sure God doesn’t care.

And if the siren-like allure of young cheerleaders doesn’t sway you, maybe a swift roundhouse kick to your sensibilities will do the trick.

Noted conservative and unprecedented badass extraordinaire Chuck Norris is making a case for every school district in the country to be required to teach from the Bible as a textbook in every public school. He and his wife, Gena, sponsor a program whose phone number is “1-888-BIBLE-NOW” (too many numbers, Chuck, but God knows I ain’t gonna tell him), with the aim, as stated in the video also linked to the cheerleader article of “changing the course of our country.”

There’s a sort of duplicitousness to this kind of church-state tampering that not only smacks of the dying age of Christendom, but it also reeks of a desperate Christian constituency, yearning to force-feed their religion on people who have summarily rejected such approaches in the past.

As for speaking out of two sides out of the mouth, it’s presented on the one hand as an academic and historic piece of literature, to be taught as such in the schools. And yet, at the end of the video, Norris makes the statement that, “We can change the course of our country, and God knows we need it.” This is such a thinly veiled deception that it only casts further negative light on a Christian faith already notorious for embracing a “win at all costs” strategy of evangelism.

So, I have a simple solution I’d like to offer up that, I believe, will solve all of these problems. See, there are these things called private schools, not funded with the public’s tax dollars, and whose populations are self-selected. Within said schools, you can post as much religious signage and teach the Bible as often as you’d like. In fact, I even went to such a school for years, where I attended chapel twice a week and even took a class that taught an overview of the Bible. About half of my classmates were Jewish, but they and their families didn’t complain about the religious inclinations of the school.

Why? Because it’s private and they had a choice to send their kids there or not!

So, with that said, let me assure you that there is probably no shortage of families who would jump at the chance to pay to send their kids to Chuck Norris High School, where you learn to kick ass and quote scripture while doing it. And meanwhile, those who either can’t afford such a choice or who simply believe in a true Jeffersonian separation of church and state can continue to send their kids to publicly funded schools without being browbeaten by Christians with a clearly subversive agenda.

 

About Christian Piatt

Christian Piatt is the creator and editor of BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE and BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS. He co-created and co-edits the “WTF: Where’s the Faith?” young adult series with Chalice Press, and he has a memoir on faith, family and parenting being published in early 2012 called PREGMANCY: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date.

  • jduckbaker

    Marbury High School in Prattville, Alabama also did this:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/10/27/another-high-school-hoists-banners-with-bible-verses-on-them/

    And in the Montgomery Advertiser you can see the article about the 100s who came to rally for the religious banners. (Although you have to pay for the whole article, you can get a sense of what it’s about in the first paragraph and the picture.)

    http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/20121107/PROGRESS01/311070014/Hundreds-rally-religious-banners

    It makes me so frustrated to see these tactics used by people who would not fathom allowing any other entity display their banners. It is real bullying.

    Also, it makes me laugh that the Chuck Norris phone number is really
    1-888-BIBLE-NO since the W would be left off due to too many numbers.

    I always appreciate your writing. Thank you for your work!

  • Give URself a Chant

    The answer to bad religion is not to cast it out, but to convert it into good religion. We need good religion – relegating it to the fringe is not helping the country. So, the root answer here is for those who represent this exclusive, threatening, law-based and performance-oriented religion of the Pharisees to become Christians. This would make them inclusive, peaceful, grace-based and loving. Christ is the answer we need, so we need people who represent him. Those who do that aren’t a threat, so there is no need for non-Christians to feel the need to relegate them.

    • Wrestlin’ Raistlin

      No. The answer to bad religion is to do away with all religion forever.

  • Tom

    Chuck Norris is my role model. He is such a great person and good Christian.

  • John

    Texas is the best place to live.

  • http://twitter.com/EvelynSweerts Evelyn Sweerts

    Your point about them probably not allowing a quotation from the Qu’ran would be interesting to put to the test. I have no doubt you are right – and it would be helpful to have that demonstrated in public. Any subversive friends in Texas?

    AFA the bad theology goes: that was my first reaction (and it made me throw up in my mouth a little). My head was like, “wait, what? he’s talking about church and state?” Ha ha, maybe that’s the difference between you guys and us British. We have a state church, but it wouldn’t occur to anyone in a million years to make a sign like that. But then, we also don’t have cheerleaders. I’m sure some of the men I know would happily trade a sign like that for some cheerleaders…

    • Tony

      I have never understood how two sides in a sporting competition can pray to the same God and claim His victory for what is simply a game. Recreation, play, fun….no matter how fanatical the Coach is, no matter how much rides on it, it is quite simply that: a game.

      I strongly believe that God turns a blind eye to sports, games and dice rolling. If you are sure you will win, what’s the point in playing? Surely the fun of playing the game is the reason you play!

      An amusing anecdote here would be the time I played in a sporting event and it was all very friendly….at the time, I believed I had the ‘Gift of Encouragement’, which actually worked better for my opponent than it did for me. I lost.

  • http://twitter.com/revdrewdowns Drew Downs

    Great post. I’m right there with you.

  • Isaac

    There is a problem that you seem to not address. You assume that the public schools are a neutral learning ground (as if there can be such a thing), and thus people who want to teach biased teaching should send their children to private schools, and people who want a neutral learning field can send their children to public schools.

    But this assumption is unsubstantiated in your article. As someone who went to a public school but was raised in a Christian home with simple Christian parents who could never compete with the academic elitists that set up and run the public education system, I was flooded not with a neutral worldview, but with a worldview that either pictured a world without God or even worse a view antagonistic to God.

    I remember sitting in 9th grade History of Western Civilization class with a young 25 year oldish teacher just out of the academy with his new degree. He spent many class periods showing how Christianity was just a religion that evolved from other primitive religions and was something that the world has now gone past. He didn’t teach anything about what Christians really believed but just stated this as fact. But amazingly when he spoke of Buddhism and Islam he didn’t give this same perspective but instead taught some of their beliefs as if their was some legitimacy to them and some human achievement that came with them. Of course he did this for the sake of “open-mindedness” but really this is a veiled attack against Christianity, and certainly worked that way to my moldable mind.

    Couple this with the Literature, Science, and Social Studies which assume a naturalistic, positivist, and humanist perspective, and I was an agnostic/atheist by 17. This is because I actually paid attention in class.

    Separation between Church and State is a delusion. Religion touches the deepest components of one’s life. How they see history, how they see the Creation, what they believe about reality, what they believe about humanity, what they believe is right and wrong etc. The public school system gives an answer to all these questions and they are fundamentally not Christian answers, but are manifestly continuing the Enlightenment narrative of human centered religion.

    There is no doubt in my mind that secular humanism is itself a belief system which satisfies (or attempts to) much of the human need for religion, for mankind has and always will be a religious being. The difference is this belief system of secular humanism is exempt from being called a religion, and is funded by tax dollars even though many people are not happy about the content nor methods of the teaching; while Christians, many of them poor, have to fork out additional money to send their children to a private school so they can be indoctrinated according to Christian beliefs instead of secular ones.

    Like most “alternative” Christians you simply do not give any adequate attention to this tension, which is the real tension many good Christians are feeling, and instead you assume the secular viewpoint. If I was an atheist I would be thankful for you and others with your mind state because you spend so much of your time arguing their case for them and giving their worldview and assumptions more affirmation where they already have a monopoly on the public realm because of the delustion of neutrality and tolerance.

    How you can not see that secular humanism is itself a biased viewpoint that is being forced upon our youth in almost every media of the public realm is beyond me.

    • Wrestlin’ Raistlin

      tl;dr

      God doesn’t exist.

  • Delageto

    Chuck Norris rules!!!!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/tdwightdavis Dwight Davis

    I mean, sure this is a bit ignorant and the theology of God helping you win a sporting event is terrible, and for the record I’m far from a bible-toting right wing Republican, but I think I’m okay with them being allowed to have bible verses painted on the signs SO LONG AS (sorry for the caps, I don’t know how to italicize here) they would also allow verses from the Quran or passages from the Bhagavad Gita to be painted on their banners as well. I’m all for freedom of religion for all religions, which I think necessarily includes Christianity.

    May I humbly submit a question? Would you post with the same frustration if a court in a more liberal state ruled that it was okay for the cheerleaders of that high school to paint verses from the Quran on their football signs (Again, put complaints about bad theology aside)?


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