The Young Women Who Are Speaking Out Against the Mandatory Christian Assembly at Their Public High School

***Update***: I have removed the name of one of the students at her request.

On April 9, students at Northwest Rankin High School in Mississippi attended a mandatory assembly featuring representatives from nearby Pinelake Baptist Church. The performers told the students how they needed to accept Jesus in their lives. They even showed a video:

In the video, two young men were interviewed who had once led “troubled” lives. To find hope, the men described various behaviors such as turning to drugs, sex, cutting, suicide, and the like. They then explained how turning to Jesus Christ solved their problems and recommended that other people turn to Jesus Christ as well.

According to the American Humanist Association, even when students tried to leave the Performing Arts Building so they wouldn’t have to listen to the preaching, they “were harassed by a principal and told to sit down.”

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center of the AHA sent the school a complaint letter (PDF). After not hearing back from the administration, they filed a lawsuit (PDF) against the school, in which the extensive and jaw-dropping details about the assembly are listed in full.

Or you can just watch a portion of the assembly here:

To be clear: There’s absolutely nothing legal about any of this. The school cannot force students to sit through a Christian sermon, even if other students are presenting the material.

Yet, no one would have known any of this was happening without the help of two brave students.

You can see in the lawsuit that the plaintiffs are M.B. and her friend.

Until now, the news reports about the case have not said much about who they are and why they did this.

But now they’re telling their side of the story.

In a piece for Humanist Network News, M.B.Magdalene Bedi, who goes by “Gracie” — talks about why she took action:

I abandon anonymity not to call attention to myself, but rather to call attention to the case and better validate its purpose. As a student at the high school, I have been privy to the thoughts and analysis of my peers, and what I’ve heard has been incredibly disheartening. Rather than reviewing the case objectively, I have been written off as an angry atheist, a scorned student, and even as a greedy child looking only for profit. Allow me to defend myself against such harsh conclusions.

I am not a scorned student. Northwest has been nothing but kind to me throughout my several years of public education, and I may attribute my depth of awareness to the very thorough and efficient curriculum. The faculty is perhaps the best in the state and may be among the best at the national level. It is not my intention to rebel against or insult the high school itself. My grievances are only with the inappropriate and unconstitutional actions by the administration and staff.

Can you believe she’s only a high school junior? How amazing that she’s breaking out of the shell of anonymity despite the pressure that must be against her right now. I’m glad she’s doing it; she deserves to be known for the stand she’s taking.

A couple of nights ago, I spoke with one of the students involved. Because Gracie is a minor, she has been the named plaintiff in this lawsuit. A senior who graduated early, she’s been an open atheist even since middle school. Her secular friends came to her after the assembly because they figured she would know what to do. When the prospect of a lawsuit was brought up, Gracie was the only student willing to be a part of it.

This is an even bolder move when you consider her own parents are unaware of what’s happening right now because they’re out of the country. In fact, her parents are very religious — her father was a church deacon and her mother taught Sunday School.

I asked her what she plans to do in the future and her response was “I really wanted to go into politics, but I think I threw that career out the window.” I hope that’s not the case, but church/state separation hasn’t always been a winning issue in Mississippi.

What does she hope happens as a result of AHA’s intervention in this case?

I hope the school stops the close relationship between it and the church. Also that religious events such as these assemblies won’t happen again for future generations, at least not during school hours. And that people will be more open-minded about secularists and nonbelievers and understand that they are around, just not open about it.

Amazing women, both of them. They have their work cut out for them in the court of public opinion, but by standing together in this, they’re helping each other out. The school has yet to respond to the lawsuit. But it’s hard to see how anyone could oppose Gracie and the other student — they’re not anti-Christian haters hell-bent on ruining the school’s name. They’re law-abiding students who want their school to be respectful of all students and not just the Christian ones.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • busterggi

    The fact that religions have to literally hold children & teenagers hostage and force their inane dogma down their throats says a lot about the current state of religion – its desperate & getting more so.

    • Sweetredtele

      The funny part is all the kids who then go on r/atheism and say how stupid they think these programs are. Reddit is “making” atheists faster than these dog and pony shows make Christians.

    • 92JazzQueen .

      Hostage?!?All these stories seem to be from a biased one sided opinion that has the blogger tending to side with of course who they share their beliefs with.

      • blasphemous_kansan

        Boy you got that right! All one-sided opinions here, no rocking the boat allowed! That’s why no one is ever allowed to post comments here to express a contrary opinion, or to correct the author, or just to bitch senselessly about bias while offering nothing constructive at all!

        Wait a sec…..

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

        [opens dictionary]
        “to hold hostage: Any situation or leverage used to entrap or corner someone without physical restraint.”

        Using the phrase “hold hostage” is an acceptable bit of rhetoric here; a more accurate phrase would be to refer to the students as being “a captive audience”.

        In this case, Pinelake Baptist was using the students being confined to a mandatory assembly as a way to promote their religion. If that is the fact of the case, it by definition cannot be “a one-sided opinion”. Nor is such behavior legal for a US public school. That is also a fact, and not an opinion.

        And it happens that while Ms. Smith is an atheist, Ms. Bedi is a Christian (as described in the links that Hemant provided). They both simply understand the importance of having a secular public school system.

        • http://www.facebook.com/sean.sherman.501 Sean Sherman

          I thought they were both atheists, young and courageous. If Bedi is a Christian that makes me think even more highly of what they are doing.

          • benanov

            It makes no difference to me. My opinion of her actions does not change.

            It is entirely feasible that her brand of Christianity does not mesh with the presented brand – this makes the barrier to understanding lower. I cite the example where a very Evangelical Christian went to Hawaii, where Buddhist and Shinto shrines/temples dot the landscape like Christian churches in the bible belt – and he realized that prayer in school was not something he wanted (because they were Buddhist prayers).

            However reading her story on the humanist association, I don’t give that theory much weight. It seems like Gracie understands her suit on the merits instead of being personally offended.

            • Charles Honeycutt

              Her actions are arguably more impressive given that, as a Christian, she is risking losing more by filing suit. One risks losing friends and family; the other, friends, family and religious community.

              Arguably, mind you. I’m undecided there.

      • GCT

        When students are told that they must attend a proselytizing session and not allowed to leave, what would you call it?

        • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.wilson.9210 Kelly Wilson

          in tort law it is called false imprisonment.

      • Gus Snarp

        There’s a video of the sermon. There’s a transcript of that video provided in the lawsuit. There’s an email from the Principal saying that all seniors needed to attend.

        What exactly is in dispute?

      • E. Cedric

        If the side happens to be the side of truth, fact, justice and morality – ie the atheists’ side – then yes, they are all on that side.

        You on the other hand come from the side of oppression, make believe and idiocy.

      • Spuddie

        They didn’t have the option of leaving and it was not their choice to be there. If I do the same to you, its considered a felony.

      • Charles Honeycutt

        All you comments are from a side that isn’t humble enough to read an article before speaking, competent enough to grasp hyperbole, or honest enough to look at the facts outside the lens of a religious bigot looking to hate people to feed her martyr complex.

      • onamission5

        Holding a mandatory church service at school and disallowing students from leaving. This is totally constitutional and violated no one’s rights and the kids weren’t being held there against their will because…?

      • eric

        Graci Bedi is Christian. It isn’t just the atheists that think this was wrong and unconstitutional.

      • Sue Blue

        Let’s put it this way: If your child was told by teachers and staff that they could not leave during an assembly where Islam or Bhuddism or even atheism was aggressively advocated by other students or staff or speakers, and your child was threatened with disciplinary action if they left – what would you call it?

    • Sven2547

      I think you meant “figuratively”, not “literally”.

      • Sweetredtele

        If kids were being held against their will, how is that figurative and not literal hostage holding?

        • Sven2547

          How does one “literally” force dogma “down someone’s throat”? Cramming a Bible into someone’s esophagus? No. It’s FIGURATIVE.

          • Gus Snarp

            So they literally held them hostage and figuratively forced dogma down their throat. In which case the only problem is that the sentence is unclear with regard to whether “literally” applies only to holding hostage and not to forcing down the throat, or applies to both.

          • rhodent

            There are two ways to parse that sentence:

            1.
            Religions have to literally
            i) hold children and teenagers hostage
            and
            ii) force their inane dogma down their throats.

            2.
            Religions have to
            i) literally hold children and teenagers hostage
            and
            ii) force their inane dogma down their throats.

            The second one does not say anything about dogma being literally forced down anyone’s throat.

            I would also add that whether we like it or not, the word “literal” gets used figuratively, and contrary to what some people think, has been getting used that way for hundreds of years and has been used that way by some of the greatest writers in the English language (you’ll find “he had literally feasted his eyes in silence upon the culprit” in Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby and “Literally, I was (what he often called me) the apple of his eye.” in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre). I try to avoid using the word figuratively myself, but given its pedigree I can’t say there’s anything truly incorrect about it.

          • Sweetredtele

            The phrase “force ‘whatever’ down their throats” is already understood to be a euphemism/colloquialism which has the connotation of making someone swallow or in this case “listen to” something which they clearly don’t want to. So if we replace the euphemism with the phrase that it was probably substituted for- “make them listen to inane dogma”, then yes, they are literally doing that.

    • Sven2547

      So when I went to jury duty and I had to watch that instructional video, I was literally held hostage?
      And when I had to go to English class (and I hated middle school English), I was literally held hostage that time too?
      And when I had to attend that boring scrum meeting at the office this morning, I was literally held hostage by my boss?

      Let’s be clear: I’m not defending these people. What this school and those lecturers did was illegal, unconstitutional, unethical, and a flagrant abuse of their position. That said, you’re not doing anybody any favors with the over-the-top rhetoric.

      • Vanadise

        If you tried to leave and you were physically prevented from leaving against your will, then yes. “Hostage” is an emotionally loaded word, but that’s pretty much what it means.

      • JackT

        Sven, the meetings that you attended in each location were related to what each situation seemed to dictate as your purpose, as opposed to a meeting being deemed mandatory by your superiors based on what beliefs they thought you should have, and therefore were going to indoctrinate you with said beliefs. In short, you may be comparing apples with oranges in the first part of your statement.

        • Sven2547

          “Comparing apples to oranges?” I’m not the one comparing an (inappropriate, unconstitutional) school assembly to an actual hostage situation. “Apples to oranges” indeed!

      • 65snake

        Yes. If you were prevented from leaving by either physical force or threat of negative consequences, that qualifies.

    • Rain

      “Inane” is the perfect word. I would be more bored than outraged. Who could possibly be taken in by that inane melodrama commonly known as “witnessing”. *yawn*

      • OckhamsRazor

        More “voters” than you want to think about, I assure you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/richard.hesketh1 Richard Hesketh

      Wholeheartedly agree. The breathtaking blindness to their own dogma is staggering. So many of the ‘Good sense’ bits of their tracts are completely ignored. How insecure can a whole social stratum be?

  • ortcutt

    Evangelical christians are realizing that they aren’t “reaching” a lot of today’s young people. The rapidity of secularization has put them in full-on panic mode. So, what do they do? Proselytize to a captive audience in public schools.

    • JET

      This. Fundies are panic stricken that their kids are abandoning religion in record numbers. And there are many more young people who are keeping their non-religious thoughts to themselves (except for on Reddit) so they don’t jeopardize their college tuitions.

    • Spuddie

      Great, they are taking their cues from Joseph Kony. Having trouble getting people to agree with you? Try holding children hostage instead.

  • E. Cedric

    Good for Gracie and Alexis and shame on the school, but again…..another southern state…..

  • http://littlelioness.net Fiona

    I hope that tis is a great launching pad for her political career!

    • Hat Stealer

      Me too. It’s disheartening to think that she sees this incredibly brave an honest action as a career destroyer, when in fact we need more people like her in politics.

  • Matt

    Great to see these young girls sticking up for what is right. Hopefully these lawsuits, that sadly have to be filed against these schools, wasting precious taxpayer funds, will help curb the onslaught of these messages being presented in an official and unconstitutional manner by agents of the school.

  • Andrew B.

    “In the video, two young men were interviewed who had once led “troubled”
    lives. To find hope, the men described various behaviors such as
    turning to drugs, sex, cutting, suicide, and the like. They then
    explained how turning to Jesus Christ solved their problems and
    recommended that other people turn to Jesus Christ as well.”

    Son-of-a-bitch. This infuriates me. Religion is the homeopathy of mental health.

    • Tom

      So Christianity is a good substitute for addictive, self destructive behaviour. I’m not sure I’m interpreting that quite the way they wanted it to be!

    • John

      That makes me curious, though. After turning to suicide, how does one turn to anything else?

      • Blacksheep

        Christianity is not a cure-all for suicide, just look to Rick Warren and the loss of his son. But there are countless stories about how it can help – on a basic level because it can help one can feel love and hope, on a metaphysical level because of the power of God.

        • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

          You really don’t understand mental illness, do you? It is a host of medical conditions, and people with depression aren’t simply unloved or lonely.

        • Gus Snarp

          Missed the joke, did you?

        • sk3ptik0n

          I am married to someone with a mental illness. There is no metaphysical level and since most of my wife co-patients are indeed religious and constantly begging god to deliver them from illness,. I have countless, first hand examples of how it is absolutely useless on a basic and any other level.
          What works is caring professionals that are trained to help people with mental illness.
          They can be religious or not, but their religiosity has no bearing on the effectiveness of their treatments. In most cases, I noted that the religious ones are among the first to give up on cases where a cure is harder to come by. And in all cases they are the most sanctimonious and the most likely to make the patient feel like their illness is their own fault and that somehow they are responsible for it.

        • Charles Honeycutt

          John was commenting on the odd phrasing quoted in the blog post.

        • Artor

          I have known someone with extreme mental problems who turned to Xtianity in his darkest hour. Things got a lot darker, really fast, and he was stuck in some apocalyptic trip from Revelations until he could get some Thorazine and a few weeks of therapy. It was terrifying to imagine what was going through his head. Maybe you see love & light in Xtianity, but there’s a lot of dark, terrible, paranoid crap in there too. I’d be curious how many countless stories of horror & tragedy there are to balance against your stories of love & hope.

      • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

        After trying it to make problems go away, unsuccessfully.

        • Spuddie

          I tried self crucifixion but I couldn’t get that last nail in.

          • Charles Honeycutt

            Should’ve prayed for help. Just clasp your hands together and oh wait nevermind.

          • Sweetredtele

            You gotta put that one really long nail in from the back of the cross before you climb up, then give it a good backhand.

          • Artor

            Do it like Odin and hang upside down from one foot. It’s easier that way. Just DON’T try the blood-eagle without expert help.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

              Ah, the Hanged Man. (And just to point out, Odin actually got something valuable out of his sacrifice — knowledge of the runes and their magic.)

              • Sue Blue

                Yep, the Norse gods Thor and Odin were real he-men, not namby-pamby pussies like Jesus. After all, Thor has a hammer and Jesus got nailed up (I know – old joke, but I couldn’t resist).

            • Spuddie

              “Do it like Odin and hang upside down from one foot.”

              There are so many acts which go much better with such advice.

    • Blacksheep

      As a Christian I disagree with the whole construct of the assembly at school and especially the “hostage” bit – even if it only felt that way to some of the kids. I don’t recall anything about Jesus posting guards on The Mount to make sure nobody escaped.

      However – on the content front, i think I get why it infuriates you but I’ve been in many situations first hand, and heard about them second hand in which exactly that happens – people do find hope, peace, and freedom in Christ. (Meaning, they take a leap of faith and trust Him for guidance and salvation). It could be the power of suggestion – as you say – but if is it usually stems (in my experience) from one main thing: God knows you and loves you – which to someone who has fallen off the edge is especially comforting.

      • benanov

        If the kids can’t leave the assembly, then ‘hostage’ is only a slight hyperbole.

        Tomorrow we’re coming over and going to make your kids watch a bunch of Muslim Presenters. Burka and Hijab will be provided for the females in your group. Wearing them is mandatory.
        Then on Saturday we’ll all wear Tefillin and read the Torah. Oh and that’s mandatory too, you can’t leave.

        (Considering my usual luck presenting an ethical “what if we changed the circumstances” argument to a Christian, I wonder why I even bother.)

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

        Not quite. It stems from thinking “God knows you and loves you”.

        Certainly people can have a great change in their life from adopting/increasing their observance of some particular form of Christianity – be that change positive or negative. But the same applies to all different forms of religion – the 30,000 forms of Christianity, the many versions of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism, etc. It has nothing to do with anything supernatural and everything to do with the particularities of human brains.

        And I am opposed to anyone falsely promoting their religion or philosophy as a cure-all or even an effective treatment for mental health. That is both dishonest and actively harmful, because it often discourages people who need it from seeking actual effective evidence-based mental health care. And I have known far too many people who were in such situations.

      • eric

        Its unconstitutional, even if it does/did bring hope and peace. There is no exception in the first amendment that says the State can go ahead and establish religions that bring hope and peace.

        Do you disagree?

      • sk3ptik0n

        How about running the same event at a local Church outside of school hours? Wouldn’t that be better?
        The problem is that they know attendance would be dismal. Maybe that should be a hint.

        The anecdotal evidence that people find hope, peace and whatnot in Christ is absolutely inconsequential in this discussion. If the local Buddhist temple staged an assembly where they chanted and imparted eastern wisdom on the students I am pretty sure that at least some students would find peace, hope and peace.

        So what? Youtube is full of yoyos that find the very same benefits from wearing Crystals, chanting mantras and watching a guru do absolutely nothing on stage for hours on end.

        Is that supposed to be evidence of anything? Or just wishful thinking?

      • Carmelita Spats

        Comforting? Is this god the same creepy sociopath known as Yahweh-the-Yahoo? Is this the trinitarian-incarnational-atoning-resurrecting-ascending-soon-to-be-returning-to-Earth god who was his own father and sacrificed himself to himself after impregnating a horny teenager with himself so that premarital sex could be forgiven? That god? The one who orders sexual torture and slavery in Deuteronomy 20:10-14,

        “As you approach a town to attack it, first offer
        its people terms for peace. If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor. But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town. When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given you.”

        This is the SAME sick sociopath, a voyeur god, who orders that women have their private parts exposed and celebrates sexual molestation:

        “I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will show the nations thy nakedness and the kingdoms thy shame.” (Nahum 3:5,6).

        “Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts.” (Isaiah 3:17) Secret parts is a euphemism for the Hebrew word “poth” which is vagina, literally “hinged opening”.

        Apologize, theologize, demythologize, liberalize and rationalize all you want–You insult me as a parent if you think my kid is going to listen to IMMORAL filth from the Bible or be brainwashed into a wacky cult that worships a Bearded Guy, His Kid and their Pigeon.

      • Isilzha

        And if it wasn’t your religion you’d be furious.

      • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

        People placed in groups tend to follow the theme of the group. This group mentality can be often highly coercive to changing the thoughts of an individual who has a dissenting opinion. People tend to not want to stand out from the crowd. Add teen-aged peer pressure to that equation and the likelihood that a teenager “converts” to the popular opinion is increased tenfold. This is not a leap of faith. It is a desire to not be singled out. There have been countless scientific studies conducted, reviewed, and retested explaining how this phenomena works. Under peer pressure the concept that gawd knows you and loves you could become a very convincing argument. But it is hollow because when you remove the individual from the environment where he is being pressured the mysticism of theism fades away. Making the claim that gawd knows and loves you is a projection of subjective experience. This is a statement that can not be verified by everyone who hears or reads it. This works because every, subjective, experience is unique, as unique as fingerprints. Only you can state that gawd knows and loves you. It is only true to you and it is a false assumption that making an inclusive statement would be true to others. In other-words what is true for you is strictly and only true for you and nobody can have the same experience as you have. What you have is a personal relationship with your gawd. Personal means only you. Nobody else has the same, personal, relationship. Anything you say about your gawd only applies to you.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

      That song and dance “turning to trouble” is a pretty common theme amongst young adult proselytizers. In the past 8 or so years I have heard nearly the exact same story from maybe 15-20 young men and women. (The coffee shop I hang out at is filled daily with young adults from various churches in the area.) Each story has almost the exact same details and follow the exact same pattern from one gateway to the next. I’ve come to the conclusion that none of these stories are real. That it is a script used for conversion.

      • grindstone

        You don’t know the half of it. As someone who has spent years of her life in the pews, I can tell you that it’s part of the Calvinist cred to pump up how perverted you were prior to a, usually reluctant but altogether successful due the great power of the love of Christ, conversion. If everyone who said they had “sold drugs and ran prostitutes” (this usually comes from older men) had done so, the streets would flow with crack and every woman but your mom would be selling it. They often culminate with the person crumpled into a suicidal blob, rescued from the very brink. It’s ridiculous, but what’s more so is that these people believe every word.

        • Robert

          The plot of ALMOST EVERY episode of the Christian radio melodrama “Unshackled” is exactly this — I mocked God, lived fast, fell, hit bottom, asked Him for help, got saved, lived well afterward. It’s been on the air since ca. 1955 (!) and the story is ALWAYS the same. Who knows if it’s true or not? And they likely don’t care — the stories are TOOLS for the evangelists.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            I apologize in advance for what my inner “asshole teenager” is about to say.

            “Heh, you’re a tool for the evangelists!”

            I apologize again for the rudeness and immaturity displayed in this comment.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    Another story another way for you to show that you are one sided and biased to the core.And hailing a situation in a black and white view of things.

    • ortcutt

      What is the other side of this? Do you have any legal or moral justification for subjecting public school students to forced proselytization while depriving them of valuable class time?

      • 92JazzQueen .

        Hey,I remember times when I was forced into the enviormental presentations which at times could count as propaganda.

        • RobMcCune

          And this justifies it happening to others?

        • blasphemous_kansan

          ‘Propaganda’ in the sense that you are defining it (being presented scientific facts with which you disagree), is not illegal.

          The actions of this school’s administration were/are.

          Equivalency over.

          Also, your labeling of an environmental presentation as ‘propaganda’ shows that you have a very biased, black and white way of thinking about things. That old lesson about pointing out the splinter in another’s eye before removing the beam in one’s own comes to mind while reading your whiny, pearl-clutching, comments.

        • ortcutt

          First, there is no Establishment Clause when it comes to the environment. Second, I don’t know what you are counting as propaganda. If you’re counting scientific, factual information as propaganda, then you don’t know what you are talking about.

        • busterggi

          Totally irrelevant and Constitutional.

          =/=

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          If you are counting “describing accurate science” as propaganda, you do not understand what propaganda means.

        • Sven2547

          The worst false-equivalence I’ve seen this week.

        • b33bl3br0x

          Education about environmental concerns and religious proselytism are not even remotely in the same ball park. If you can’t see how one could fit into a public school education and one doesn’t then you’re an idiot.

        • E. Cedric

          Wow are you a totally ignorant, evil little thing.

          • CelticWhisper

            “…evil little thing.”

            Hey now, cut the compliments!

        • John

          Did you attempt to leave and then “were harassed by a principal and told to sit down”? Did the presentation you were “forced into” break any laws?

        • Nilanka15

          Please think before you speak (type).

        • Charles Honeycutt

          So you can’t tell the difference between science-based presentations and attacks on the Constitutional rights of students, yet you think you have a valid opinion here. Sadly typical.

          Please explain why you think these students should have been forced to attend a religious sermon in school.

          Go on. I’m sure you have a great answer that isn’t whining or changing the subject.

        • fiona64

          So science presentations are the same as a religious sermon.

          Riiiiigggghhhhttt.

    • LWMT

      The other side would be an explanation of why it’s good for kids in school to be forced to go to this assembly.

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

      The school broke the law, why is that so hard for you to wrap your head around? Doesn’t get much more black and white than that.

      Do yourself and the world a favour: Take a civics class.

    • guest

      Yeeeessss! Let the butt hurt flow through you young padawan.

      SMH

    • SteveS

      Last I checked atheist is in the blog’s name… What is one sided about atheists decrying a flagrant violation of the constitutional separation of church and state? If you agree with what was done and want to read people praising what was rammed down these kids throats, I am sure Bryan Fisher or Tony Perkins has just what you are looking for.

    • fiona64

      And where is the gray area? What part of the Establishment Clause is gray? What part of “public school” is gray?

      I’m keen to know.

      I’m not an atheist, and I know that forcing kids sit through a fucking proselytization on school grounds is wrong.

  • Me

    Way to go girls, you should blow their minds by donating the money either to the ACLU or back to the same school. Anyway, keep up the good fight. We are behind you.

  • http://twitter.com/cyanmoon1 Virginia Gamely

    6:06- god provides ‘happy endings’ now? I’ll have to book with him for my next massage

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.westley Brian Westley

    Copy/paste error:

    “Rather than reviewing the case as , I have been writangry atheist…”

    This should be:

    “Rather than reviewing the case as one of constitutional rights, I have been written off as an angry atheist…”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      My fault. Fixed!

      • Gus Snarp

        Although it was pretty funny coming right before a post with a “cdesign proponentsists” reference.

  • Justin Miyundees

    How incapable of abstract thought are the administrators at this school? This is grounds for dismissal.

    Replace the words “God” and “Jesus” with the words “Allah” and “Mohammed” and the shit wouldn’t settle until heads rolled. Every student in that hall would have filed suit AS THEY SHOULD NOW! And they would win handily!

    I taught in rural Georgia for years – surely there’s some backwoods hicks that have a child in the school that could use a few bucks in to line their pockets. Someone who “the polite society” has shunned – maybe they could get a new trailer or four wheeler out of the deal.

    Hit’m where it hurts I say – hit’m in the pocket book and get some asses fired. This is outrageous.

    How stupid do you have to be to approve such a seminar?

    Plenty.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I hope that these two brave young women do not settle, but fully sue the school district’s and the principal’s asses off.

    Settling for some paltry token amount completely nullifies the effect. These people, raised in Christian privilege their whole lives, are like spoiled two-year-old brats. If they don’t actually get punished, they’ll do the same thing again the moment they think nobody’s looking. Unless they lose a lot of the community’s money and then get kicked out by that same community, they will only get more coy and clever about covering their tracks when they do it again.

    Some people are suggesting that Gracie and Alexis donate the money. I don’t think they have any ethical duty to do so. They’re the ones who are taking serious risk upon themselves, and taking a lot of crap socially, and they’re doing that for the freedom of the whole community, even those who abuse them. But if they do want to donate it, let them give it to an educational charity or organization but not back to the school or the district. Softening the pain of the punishment in any way will allow them to forget the lesson very quickly.

    • David S.

      Part of the reason people is because they’ve got better things to do with their life then string a lawsuit out. And at least most of the targets of the lawsuit are not evil things that need to be destroyed; it is better for a school district to go on teaching then pour everything into lawyers over several years.

  • -Jay

    Dear Alexis and Gracie,

    You two rock.

    (I’d try to send you a personal message but I’m not ambitious enough to be a creepy stalker, so this will have to suffice.)

    I was not this brave as a student.

    I was not this brave as a high school teacher. (Kudos to Hemant.)

    I’ve escaped that life and have moved on, but my memories of what High School are are quite vivid, and I know full well what you’re likely going through.

    You two rock. And if I run into you two a few years down the line, I’m buying drinks.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Rod

    Good job ladies, so glad that WOMEN are standing up for their right to freethinking. Courageous and forthright you are the future of our country and our conscience. Much love and respect for them and all who stand up for principle.

  • Stop Heterophobia Now

    If Muslims were to do this, it would be perfectly OK.

    • Seamus Ruah

      Not sure if troll, or just plain stupid.

      • RobMcCune

        False dichotomy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/hoffmands Daniel Stuart Hoffman

      If Muslims were to do it, the hypocritical Christians would band with secularists and atheists to decry the presence of religion in school.

    • JA
    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

      What part of “secular education” was unclear? A publicly-funded US school cannot promote any religion. Nor can it promote irreligion.

    • RobMcCune

      Nope.

  • http://www.facebook.com/terigardener Teri Inthegarden

    For those new to her books
    D.M. Murdock aka Acharya S

    has a new book out
    What is the truth about ancient gods and heroes being crucified
    http://stellarhousepublishing.com/prechristiancrucifix.html

  • yankeepoacher

    If I wanted my children to get a religious education in school I would have sent them to a parochial school not a public school.

  • eh?really?

    So it scared her for life to listen to a sermon? Did the demons inside her get mad? All of you need to be more worried about Muslims than Christians anyway. (no, I do not think she is evil) When the time comes for Islam to rise in the USA, and it is coming) they will kill atheists, gays, and everyone who will not convert. The school was stupid for not giving non Christians something else to do. However, given the typical teen in today’s society, that would have been a very high percentage of teens that just did not want to attend. I still do not understand the big fuss about it though. Everyone else is suppose to cater to non believers, but we have to take down nativity scenes. That is BS! This is one of the reasons why I will never agree with a liberal! Oh, and BTW, the Liberal agenda is the same as the Communist Party agenda……..so are you guys and gals and girly guys and manly girls all Communist?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

      I still do not understand the big fuss about it though.

      The problem is that a publicly-funded school was advocating one particular form of Christianity. That is illegal. It would be just as illegal if the school had been advocating any other religion, or if it had been advocating irreligion. This isn’t “catering to non believers”. This is having a secular society.

      , the Liberal agenda is the same as the Communist Party agenda…….

      There is no one “Liberal agenda”. Nor is there one “Communist Party agenda”. And few of the commentators here would agree with much of communism as it was practiced in the Soviet Union, or even as it is currently practiced in China.

      Nor is there likely to be a time when “Islam [will] rise in the USA”.

      Please cut out the nonsense, and do the research.

    • RobMcCune

      All of you need to be more worried about Muslims than Christians anyway.

      That’s not a good reason to let christians trample the constitution.

      The school was stupid for not giving non Christians something else to do.

      The school was stupid for turning itself into a church. It’s not just the non-christians who would have had a problem with the assembly either, I’m sure some of the christian students don’t like what Pinelake Baptist Church preaches either.

      but we have to take down nativity scenes. That is BS!

      I know it’s bs, but plenty of christians believe it.

      Oh, and BTW, the Liberal agenda is the same as the Communist Party agenda

      Not even close. Liberals aren’t about using the school system to tell students what religion to believe, you’re thinking of either conservatives or communists.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=592090257 Adam Jackson

    fanfuckingtastic – go get’em girls!

    best of luck!

    <3 east coast Oz

  • Jim

    This doesn’t belong in a school, but most of all it shouldn’t be forced on children and young adults.


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