The New York Times has an article in today’s paper about the recent proliferation of incidents in which public school teachers/administrators are proselytizing to students — or letting others do it on their behalf. It’s not enough that they can teacher children about Christianity. They want to convert the kids, often against the wishes of their parents.
One anecdote regarding rapper B-SHOC was covered on this blog before:
At a school assembly here in South Carolina on Sept. 1, a preacher described how Christ saved him from drugs, telling his rapt audience that “a relationship with Jesus is what you need more than anything else.” A rapper shouted the Lord’s praise to a light show and most of the audience stepped forward to pledge themselves to Christ while a few remained, uncomfortable, in their seats.
Such overt evangelizing would not be unusual at a prayer rally, but this was a daytime celebration in a public school gymnasium, arranged by the principal for sixth, seventh and eighth graders.
“We continue to see, on a regular basis across the country, public school officials who include prayer in school events, try to convert students and engage in other promotion of religion,” said Heather Weaver, a lawyer with the A.C.L.U.’s program on religious freedom.
“In recent years, public school officials have engaged in these activities even more aggressively,” Ms. Weaver added.
The FFRF and ACLU have gone after these cases, but one of the difficulties they have is that parents don’t always want to speak out. They don’t want to be seen as the “bad guys” when everyone around them supports the preaching — even though anonymity is an option. That leaves the watchdog organizations without plaintiffs — which takes away the opportunity to sue the districts. (If no one is complaining, on whose behalf are you suing?) Instead, they resort to sending warning letters.
Reporter Erik Eckholm doesn’t offer an answer but my hunch would be that both things are occurring. As Christians feel more persecuted (for no good reason), they push back. So you see more Christians trying to push their faith into the classroom — via History lessons, Creationism, mandatory moments of silence, etc. Meanwhile, as more parents (not always atheists and sometimes even Christian ones) become aware of what’s happening in their children’s schools, a handful of them who know that it’s wrong contact the authorities and try to put a stop to it.
Our job is to raise the consciousness of more people so they know what’s allowed and what’s not. A lot of the incidents taking place — preaching during assemblies, proselytizing in the classroom — aren’t “grey areas” of the law. They’re very clearly illegal.
When you hear soundbytes like the following one, it’s apparent that these cases aren’t isolated incidents. These aren’t accidents or honest mistakes. They are part of a larger plan to turn public schools into conversion houses for Christianity:
“I definitely think that we should try to get our relationship with Christ back into the schools,” said Mr. [Christian] Chapman, 43. “Jesus represents everything we want our students to live by.”
For non-Christians to hear this message, he said, is no worse than Bible believers being forced to hear about evolution every day.
Yeah, why should kids hear about (arguably) the most supported, brilliant, and important scientific theory of all time… when we can rot their minds with religion instead?
Unfortunately, millions of Americans — including many who run public schools — agree with Chapman. It’s our job to persuade them of how wrong they are.
(Thanks to Masada for the link)