Jesus is Better than Santa

At a public school in Irasburg, Vermont, language arts teacher Wally Rogers gave students a handout tited, “Why Jesus is Better than Santa Claus.”

santajesus.JPG

This is a teacher who had the Ten Commandments posted in the classroom. Religious books were on the classroom bookshelves. The teacher’s school-funded website had links to Christian organizations (one link referred students to “evidence for creation”).

The questionable material has since been taken down. Principal Paul Simmons said “he’s observed Roger’s class several times and never heard him speak about religious material.”

He also dismisses the notion that this handout was intended for the whole class:

“From my understanding that was not a handout. It was something the teacher had and a student saw and asked to see,” Simmons said. “It was not a handout. It was never intended to be a handout. It should not have been in sight of a student, but that’s in the past.”

Even if that’s true, the Ten Commandments and Christian books in the classroom are still disturbing enough… not to mention the notion that he is an educator who doesn’t accept evolution.

Mel Downs is the father of a seventh-grader at the school who contacted the American Civil Liberties Union. Kudos to him.

“It isn’t about my religion or me being biased in some way,” Downs said. “It’s about the separation of church and state that is supposed to exist in my daughter’s classroom.”

If Mr. Rogers (ha!) apologizes, takes down the material, and stops sharing his personal beliefs with the students during class time, I don’t see any need to take this any further. No need to fire him or call for a suspension. Hopefully, this teacher will learn his lesson, unlike David Paszkiewicz, who tried denying he did anything wrong.

(Thanks to Kate for the link!)


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • Kate

    Actually, thanks to Kate’s mom for the link! :)

  • http://jimloomisphotography.com Jimmy

    Anyone read the comments posted on the Times Argus site in response to the article? I’ve noticed that many comments that tend to side with the religious are poorly written. Not that I’m some kind of super-intelligent king of grammar here, but is it just me, or do religious comment writers seem much dumber than the non-religious/secular writers?

    This doesn’t just happen there, but everywhere else as well. Its almost like you can tell what side someone is on simply based on their writing skill set.

    Just go on youtube, look up some kind of video that is religiously based (for or against) and notice the balance.

  • http://www.killerisme.com James

    Can you imagine if it were an atheist teacher who handed out something titled “Why Jesus is the same as Santa Claus”

    1. Nobody has ever seen either
    2. Some people are still waiting for both to come
    3. Both try to extort good behavior by offering gifts
    4. Both have that naughty and nice list thing going on.

    Well you get the picture.

  • Mriana

    What I want to know is, the teacher knew better, so why would they risk their job by putting such things up in their classroom? Are they that much into evangelism that they just can’t keep it to themselves during their work hours? If so, they need to try and get hired at a religious institution.

  • Siamang

    Heck, I’d like to pass one out that says

    Why Satan is better than Santa

    1. Both wear red suits, Satan’s has a codpiece!
    2. Two words: Succubus Strippers!!
    3. Heavy metal music better than crappy carols.
    4. One list, and you’re on it!
    5. That coal in your stocking will come in handy where you’re going.
    6. Satan’s a sex god. Santa comes but once a year!

  • The Unbrainwashed

    Hemant said:

    not to mention the notion that he is an educator who doesn’t accept evolution.

    I just graduated in engineering from an Ivy League university. One of my professors (a full professor) does not accept evolution and actively promotes his dissent. It’s sad but it happens even at the best institutions of learning.

    Side Note: I’m glad that you’ve stopped using the phrase “believe in evolution.”

  • Siamang

    Engineering teacher?

  • Steven Carr

    ‘This is a teacher who had the Ten Commandments posted in the classroom.’

    No way! I’m sure this is a lie.

    I find it impossible to believe that the text of Exodus 20 was posted in the classroom.

    What might have been posted was her personal rewrite of Exodus 20, but I am certain that she did not want people to know what Exodus 20 says, so she did not post the Biblical text in the classroom.

    I’m all for posting the 10 Commandments in classrooms, but 10 Commandment supporters have more sense than to put such a bizarre text where children can read it.

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » Jesus is Better than Santa | Nth Avenue

  • The Unbrainwashed

    @ Siamang:
    What an interesting phenomenon. I’m thinking it occurs because these individuals work their entire careers with the concept of design. They note the parallels in nature (they’re tenuous but do exist) and see this as rational evidence of their irrational faith. Francis Collins, albeit not an engineer, is a great example of someone who continually rationalizes his beliefs with pseudoscience. Many engineers, being scientific individuals by day, are subjected to the same doubts.

  • Richard Wade

    Principal Paul Simmons said “he’s observed Roger’s class several times and never heard him speak about religious material.”

    That’s because he can see you sitting there, dumbass! Principals set the tone for what the teachers think they can get away with. Rogers was doing his thing in class because he knew Simmons would turn a blind eye to it.

  • Ben

    ‘Why Jesus is better than Santa Claus’ – I love it. He’s a believer, and he himself makes the comparison with another fictional character.

  • Mriana

    Steven Carr said:

    I’m all for posting the 10 Commandments in classrooms, but 10 Commandment supporters have more sense than to put such a bizarre text where children can read it.

    Why? Why don’t we also put up something from other religions too while we are at it? It hard seems right to put up something from an Abrahamic religion and neglect the rest. Why have them at all though? Why are they needed in a public classroom? I don’t see any need for them in a state ran public school.

  • Ben

    Why? Why don’t we also put up something from other religions too while we are at it?

    Mriana, Steven was referring to the fact that there are three versions of the Ten Commandments in the Bible. Only once is the list actually called the Ten Commandments, and it is substantially different than what is commonly known as the Ten Commandments. Check out Exodus 34. Posting those makes Christianity look ridiculous.

  • Steven Carr

    My point is that 10 Commandment supporters are way too clever to actually put up the Biblical text, where children can read how this alleged god punishes children for the sins of their fathers.

    10 Commandment supporters always try to use their own version of the 10 commandments, because they know that the Biblical text is not acceptable to modern minds.

  • J Sveda

    That list isn’t very thought-out. He’s mixing two different things – Santa Claus as fictional character, and the ‘real world’ Santa Claus Grotto thing.

    And the usual issue – when did undoubtedly Jesus helped anyone? When a weaker child is badly harrassed by stronger child, willl that first child’s prayers change that other’s child behavior? I doubt it. The cases of alleged divine intervention are inevitably prone to “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacies.

  • Bobby LaLay

    “This is a teacher who had the Ten Commandments posted in the classroom. Religious books were on the classroom bookshelves. The teacher’s school-funded website had links to Christian organizations (one link referred students to “evidence for creation”).”

    FIRE HIM NOW! Whatta schmuck!