Atheist Family Faces Discrimination, Eviction

It sounds like such a minor, correctable problem.

David was given an assignment in his music class a couple years ago:

He was to sing a song of worship for a grade. His teacher also instructed him to point skyward at certain points of the song. She said that he was to do this to show he loved God.

That didn’t sit well with David’s family (they’re atheists), so his father Matthew called the school.

Neither the teacher nor the principal would respond.

Matthew then alerted the media:

They were very happy to speak with us. They sent a camera crew to the school and then to my home. The school backed down from their position and did not require David to perform the song of worship for a grade. We also mandated that we did not wish for David to have any future contact with that teacher.

The school learned its lesson, things were made right, and life went on…. right?

Of course not.

David and his family are still having serious problems as a result of the complaint:

Our neighbors turned on us. We endured threatening phone calls and even had trash thrown on our front lawn at night. School became unbearable for David. Teachers would single him out and he would get reprimanded on a very regular basis. We then received a notice from our landlord informing us that we were to be evicted for non-payment of rent. We were completely paid in full and he knew it.

It gets worse.

The school isn’t cooperating with the family even though they’ve decided to homeschool David!

Ugh…

Just read the whole story, as told by Matthew.

If you have any advice for the family, they’d love to hear it.

My suggestion: Call the ACLU, Freedom From Religion Foundation, or any other group who might be willing to help you out in a legal manner. If these claims can be backed up, this should be an easy case. Legal victory won’t turn back time or make the community embrace the Godless, but it will allow you to move on to a different, better place.

(via Atheist Revolution)


[tags]atheist, atheism, discrimination, bigotry, civil rights, Christian[/tags]

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    That’s despicable. So much for so-called Christian love. Jesus would spit on those people.

  • I like tea

    Our neighbors turned on us. We endured threatening phone calls and even had trash thrown on our front lawn at night. School became unbearable for David. Teachers would single him out and he would get reprimanded on a very regular basis. We then received a notice from our landlord informing us that we were to be evicted for non-payment of rent. We were completely paid in full and he knew it.

    I guess they like to read the command, “Love thy neighbor,” as, “Love thy neighbor unless you disagree with him.”

  • Karen

    The case involving the Jewish family whose daughter protested some similar treatment and whose son got called “Jew boy” in a heavily Christian school district in – I think it was in Rhode Island – was settled a week or so ago. The family basically had to flee the town because the harassment from their neighbors was so virulent, though.

  • Arlen

    I don’t think Jesus would spit on anybody.

    What a terrible position for that family to be in; if these are the whole of the facts, the school and the community should be ashamed… and sued.

  • BZ

    I’m always surprised when crap like this happens. It’s so hard to believe that people could act like that.

  • Julie

    The part about the evictions doesn’t ring true for me. If you have proof that you paid rent, then you shouldn’t have issues with non payment. What landlord evicts a paying tenant? What “magistrate” supports that decision? I just don’t buy that part. Something about this story seems fishy.

  • PrimateIR

    For Arlen

    Luke 19:27 (see 19:11-27)
    “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and kill them in front of me.”

    Those towns people are doing exactly what they are supposed to do.

  • Maria

    nice to know xtian love is alive and well ::rolls eyes:: I hope the family sues and wins

  • Steven Carr

    ARLEN
    I don’t think Jesus would spit on anybody.

    THE HOLY BIBLE
    Mark 8
    He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

  • Renacier

    Mark 8:23? That’s just the Jesus version of spitting on a kleenex and wiping your grandkid’s face. (Personally, if getting spit on would give me 20/20 vision, I’d be all over that.)

    Also that family should definitely seek redress.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Steven Carr said,

    March 1, 2008 at 3:35 am

    ARLEN
    I don’t think Jesus would spit on anybody.

    THE HOLY BIBLE
    Mark 8
    He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

    There’s spitting and then there’s putting spit on someone. In some cultures, people use spit for medicinal purposes. It’s not always looked upon as something dirty. Why do animals “lick” their wounds? Spit has natural healing powers.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    As far as the atheist family is concerned, I couldn’t help but suddenly notice the similarities between that and what a fundamental Christian family would think if their child were in a situation where he was among people of a different faith. They are so afraid of their children being affected by the “world.”

    I understand people’s rights and all that, but so what if an atheist child ends up singing a song about God?

    Are atheists THAT afraid that their children are in danger of being converted? Why is it necessary to draw that much attention on yourselves and let it escalate up to the point of eviction?

    For example, I absolutely disagree with many (MANY) things in the current education system. I wish my children were not subjected to things such as the fear tactics they use in their sex education. But that’s the way things are right now. But I believe things are gradually evolving. I tell my kids to go with the flow but to make sure that they hold onto what they truly believe in is right in their hearts. I tell them, “Play their game but don’t let them influence you or change your beliefs. Don’t ever believe or not believe according to what someone else tells you, not even me. Think for yourselves.”

    When our kids are confident in who they are, they will grow up to become leaders and things will change because of them. It has always been my belief that I cannot change the world, but I can influence and encourage my kids and their friends to be confident in who they are.

    Stories like this makes me sad, because how is it going to solve anything when the child is rejected and shunned by the majority?

    We live in such a litigious society. We “sue” each other to death. Lawyers are the only ones who benefit from this kind of thinking, IMHO.

  • Eric

    This story seems bogus. The original story contains almost no identifying information. No last names, name of school, town, county, or even state. A ten minute scan of the Channel 4 website didn’t turn up anything (mostly due to their poor search function). A google search also yielded nothing, except for the originating site.

    I agree wtih Julie above… this is too fishy to believe.

  • http://atheists.meetup.com/531 Ben

    I understand people’s rights and all that, but so what if an atheist child ends up singing a song about God?

    Are atheists THAT afraid that their children are in danger of being converted?

    Of course not.

    Why is it necessary to draw that much attention on yourselves and let it escalate up to the point of eviction?

    The whole point is the school violating the Constitution. In this case, everything seems to have stemmed from one legitimate complaint and outing themselves.

    What did the family do to ‘escalate it to the point of eviction’?

    Stories like this makes me sad, because how is it going to solve anything when the child is rejected and shunned by the majority?

    I would never have expected the reaction the family got. Would you?

  • http://atheists.meetup.com/531 Ben

    What landlord evicts a paying tenant? What “magistrate” supports that decision? I just don’t buy that part. Something about this story seems fishy.

    You could be right, of course. All we have is one second-hand story on the internet. But I can easily believe a judge behaving like that after reading about Rachel Bevilacqua’s custody case (among others.)

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    I would never have expected the reaction the family got. Would you?

    Well… it depends on where you live. I was just wondering if speaking out and complaining about your rights being violated every time a song is sung and/or the Pledge of Allegiance is said is all that effective in changing the majority.

    And not only that, is it the child’s wish or the parent’s to speak out against these things? In my experience, kids generally want to fit in and go along with the majority.

    We can teach our kids to think for themselves and be comfortable in who they are without using them as pawns for our own agenda.

  • Julie

    Ben, sure, maybe…but I used to manage apartments, and I’m telling you, landlords don’t turn down money. I mean, this landlord would have to be very, very religious to want to lose a month or two of rent between tenants. And then there are apparently two landlords like this, because the family got evicted again. I can’t believe it. It is incredibly difficult and takes a long time to evict tenants. No one wants to go through it if they can avoid it. My guess is these people were bad tenants, if they really did get evicted twice.

    And as for the “paperwork” not being filed for the kid–can you really attribute that to discrimination? Why did they pay another person to do it anyway? It all sounds wrong.

  • PrimateIR

    Linda Said

    Well… it depends on where you live. I was just wondering if speaking out and complaining about your rights being violated every time a song is sung and/or the Pledge of Allegiance is said is all that effective in changing the majority

    Linda, I think you are trolling, but in any case, I’m sure you would have objections if your child came home and said the teacher wanted the class to use the world “Allah” instead of “God” and that three times a day the children were prostrating to the East.

    After all, what’s wrong with a little yoga during class.

  • http://atheists.meetup.com/531 Ben

    And not only that, is it the child’s wish or the parent’s to speak out against these things?

    It is up to the parents, with their vastly superior experience, legal standing, and authority equal to the school staff.

    I can’t believe it. It is incredibly difficult and takes a long time to evict tenants. No one wants to go through it if they can avoid it. My guess is these people were bad tenants, if they really did get evicted twice.

    But there is so much precedent for things like this. Did you see the CNN Paula Zahn show about discrimination against atheists? They had another family that got evicted. Prejudices can be very strong.

  • Carry On

    Just read the start of this thread on Sat. afternoon and the first posts were a bit of a puzzle to me. Hate to pick a fight with my fellow atheists, but I am always taken aback when one of us talks about Jesus and what he would or wouldn’t do.

    Are we talking about a man who lived a couple thousand years ago and might have been a young rabbi who spoke to people from time to time, or are we talking about the very person who atheists don’t believe is the son of any god or myth-like deity? Whenever anyone brings up the name Jesus, I want to say, Jesus who?

    Yes, there are people, lots of them, who think scripture and the person, Jesus, are all relavant. I do not. What am I missing here when atheists use the very symbols of the beliefs they do not share, in arguments?

    As for the likely sham of this story? I don’t know but it is obvious to me that people of all faiths, or no faith, have the capacity to be unbelievable cruel and/or completely and unfeelingly self-serving. Our job as civilized human beings is to rise above our worst motives and behaviors and care about others. As many others as possible. Others who might not look or even think like we do? How does it seem to you, that we are doing?

  • Julie

    Thanks for those links, Ben. Those really are incredibly stories. I have to say, I remain a bit dubious of this one. Fair housing laws are pretty great in the US. They protect us from discrimination for all kinds of reasons, including arbitrary discrimination. So you can’t be evicted if you get your nose pierced, just because your landlord doesn’t like that kind of thing.

    Still, those stories are quite a precedent. I guess things must have gotten worse. I grew up for a lot of my life in the Bible Belt, with an atheist dad, and we just never had problems like this. I’m sure there were people who didn’t care for his beliefs, but we were never harassed. I think my mom got some flack for letting me play with an African American girl. Ah, the good ol’ days, when it was just racial prejudice.

  • Escualidus Arrechus

    Yes, there are people, lots of them, who think scripture and the person, Jesus, are all relavant. I do not. What am I missing here when atheists use the very symbols of the beliefs they do not share, in arguments?

    You’re missing only one thing: Jesus is brought up to better illustrate the hypocrisy of the actions of some so-called believers.

    I don’t know if there was actually a person resembling the biblical Jesus 2000 years ago, but if there was, and he was as loving and forgiving as the gospels describe, then he wouldn’t approve of the kind of action described here, and so those who claim to live by his teachings are worse “sinners” than those they point their (collective) finger at.

  • K

    It’s bullocks.
    1) as a landlord, I KNOW there’s a paper trail. DUH. I don’t believe for a second that anyone is going to pay their rent twice, just to be left alone. I call shenanigans. My tenants would have me in court so fast if I tried to pull that little trick and I’d LOSE and the judge would LAUGH. Paid rent twice, PUH LEEEEEEEZE!

    2) as a homeschooler, the local school doesn’t have a say in what you do. Ah, but they weren’t homeschooling, they wanted a teacher to come to their house and teach their kid at home. Hence the fake moniker. More bullocks then, substituting their own definitions on words.

  • http://gwenny.newsvine.com Gwenny

    Is it possible to get some last names and link to the WTAE news story? I stupidly posted this in Newsvine without doing research and now I can’t find any additional information and they are demanding, rightly, some evidence this really happened.

  • http://fjwhfekh42.com Dave

    To those calling “shenanigans” regarding the rent, let me just add a data point. I live on Long Island, and for almost all of the apartments I’ve lived in, my leases were monthly, and rent was required in cash, and no receipts were given. Why? Because most of the apartments (NOT apartment buildings, but divisions of houses, usually with the landlord living there) are illegal. And landlords do not want a paper trail that could be traced back to them (also the income received from rent is rarely reported to the IRS).

    It’s still possible the story is false, or exagerated. Just thought you should know.

    (By the way, Hemant, love the blog! First time posting here.)

  • jenni

    Religion has no contact with morality and humanism. Atheists are the most distrusted minority in America. We will continue to spread reason, whether the religious like it or not. Christianity claims to uphold humility as a virtue, yet no Christian has any concept of what humility means.

  • jenni

    I’ve seen stories like this on the news. I myself have personally endured discrimination for my godlessness. 84% of our country claims that they would not want an Atheist as president.

  • Roista

    This is the superior “morality” which Christians practice. It seems to be just another instance of the Christian religion’s ability to produce despicable behavior from its adherents.

  • http://brazilbrat.blogspot.com/ James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil

    This is just one more demonstration that theists are the most intolerant, hate-filled people on earth.

    This is why most of the problems of the world are, and always have been, caused by religion. Mankind will never truly be free until the black yoke of religion is lifted by the clear light of truth and rational thinking.


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