Public School Superintendent: ‘Prayer is Very Much a Part of School’

Last week, we learned that Cullman County Schools (Alabama) Superintendent Billy Coleman was planning his third annual “Prayer Caravan” in which he visits the schools in his district and prays for them. Because I guess that’s the only option left for raising kids’ test scores.

Superintendent Billy Coleman

If he did this as a private citizen, it wouldn’t be a problem.

But that’s not the case at all. An announcement of the Caravan was posted on the school’s website:

It will be a time to lift out schools up to God and ask His blessings for the upcoming school year. We hope to see you on August 10th.

In Christ, Billy Coleman

It was posted on the district’s Facebook page, too.

After the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent Coleman a letter (PDF) telling him to put a stop to the proselytizing, the district removed all of those references, but that doesn’t change the fact that they were there.

Yesterday, Coleman held a press conference to talk about the controversy:

You can read a full transcript here.

At the 18:22 mark, during the Q&A session, Coleman remarked:

“I think that what people may not realize in this country is prayer is very much a part of school.”

He went on to say that the prayers had to occur within the confines of the law, and that he respected church/state separation, but his actions clearly show otherwise. He seems like a decent guy trying to do the right thing in the video, but he just doesn’t get it.

So what about the Caravan? Will that still go on this Saturday as planned?

Absolutely, Coleman said:

“It’s going on,” Coleman said. “I’m certainly not going to call it off.”

He emphasized that the event is privately organized and not sponsored by the Cullman County School system, despite his involvement.

That’s a complete lie. If it was privately organized, the school never would have promoted it on their website or social media networks.

Coleman isn’t organizing and promoting this event as “Billy Coleman, Random Citizen.” He’s organizing it as “Billy Coleman, Superintendent.”

Here’s something I received from a reader yesterday: A flyer endorsing the event:

Even though whoever made the flyer is obviously aware of FFRF’s complaint, s/he still promotes it as Superintendent Billy Coleman’s event.

Any reasonable person looking at all of this evidence would conclude that this is a school-sponsored event.

Judges will recognize that, too.

In order to get a lawsuit going, though, we need a plaintiff. If anyone reading this has a child in the district and is willing to stand up to this breach of church/state separation, please contact me.

Remember: This would have been a non-issue if Coleman didn’t use school resources to promote the religious event. But he doesn’t give a damn what the law says because he thinks his religion can supersede all of that.

Don’t let him get away with it.

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.

  • Regina Carol Moore

    This is sickening. Wow…

  • baal

    “I have taken busloads of [student] athletes to FCA camps in North Carolina,”

    -The superintendent talking about his “private” citizen activities.

    He seems to not fully understand that if you’re acting as a private citizen, that doesn’t mean you get to use school resources, school based advertising, waive trespass on school property or use the “superintendent” title on your flyers.

  • Mick

    “Don’t let him get away with it.”

    This is his third year. He’s already got away with it.

    • SeekerLancer

      Don’t let him get away with it anymore then?

  • Frank

    Keep up the great work Mr.Coleman! They can’t stop the truth!

    • baal

      I hope you enjoy the Muslim or Moonie prayer caravan Frank because that’s the next one your kid will be browbeaten into joining.

    • Bad_homonym

      Which truth would that be? That he is openly violating the constitution of the United States of America. That he feels religion is above the law? That xtians like him helped to drive me and many others away from the hypocrisy of religion? One of those truths?

      • Frank

        Gods truth trumps everything else.

        • The Other Weirdo

          So all these gods are ganging up on us now? I call shenanigans on your claim.

        • Bad_homonym

          Well there certainly is evidence for what I just claimed. Not so much for your assertion

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

          ….

          • Pepe

            Lol Kevin.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            We need a meta meme for Masters of the Art of Meme Response to Trolls.

        • RobMcCune

          Yes. the truth that god doesn’t exist does trump everything you’re trying to do here.

          • Frank

            Truth? Prove it? Oh wait….

            • RobMcCune

              I know you have no proof. Keep spinning your wheels.

              • Frank

                God existence will be proven to everyone’s satisfaction one day.

                • RobMcCune

                  Keep on telling yourself that.

                • Frank

                  I don’t have to. The truth is the truth. It does need me or anyone else to verify it.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

                  If it does not need you then why are you here shaking your God stick?

                • RobMcCune

                  Exactly, so quit denying that there is no god.

                • Bad_homonym

                  While truth exists outside of human verification, it still CAN be verified by said humans. What you keep stating CAN’T be verified. Not even evidenced. See the difference? Provide evidence and we all will join your belief as then it will be verified as true!

                • Frank

                  You have the choice to reject the truth God or not.

                • RowanVT

                  Why have you chosen to reject the truth of wise old Odin One-Eye?

                • Bad_homonym

                  Lets pretend your god guy exists. If so he created me as I am. Unfortunately he gave me this quality that demands evidence to believe in anything. I simply can’t “make” myself believe in the face of no evidence. So he made me to destroy me? What a dick move!

                • Know

                  thats kinda like sayin i have the choice to reject the boogy man. but wait, there is more evidence of boogy men than god so I guess that doesn’t work after all.

                • Know

                  cop out

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

                  How about now? Why must I wait?

                • Nate Frein

                  Because reasons.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Oh damn, somebody help, where was that cartoon about two doors in heaven, labeled ‘right religion’ and ‘wrong religion’ and everyone going into ‘right religion’?

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

                  Here it is…

                • Know

                  Thanks Kevin, I LOVE THIS!!!!

                • ksskidude

                  Jesus f n christ Frank, do you know how long people like you have been saying that very thing? 2000 years by now, and every one of them are now dead and have yet to see that happen. Why Frank? Because it BS thats why! Tell you what Frank, prove to us just how much your god exist’s. The next tiime someone you love that’s over 18 gets terribly ill or injured and their life is on the line, just pray. No ER, no Dr’s, just good ol fashion prayer, and let’s see what happens.

                • Know

                  When Frank? WHEN, I always hear this but NOT ONE person can say when. A non answer is not an answer.

                • RowanVT

                  Or if they do answer, it’s “When we die”.

                • Edmond

                  As a gay man, will I learn that truth on the day that God’s Graceful People stone me to death, or when that Loving God mercifully tosses my partner and I into eternal torture because of our love for one another? Because that sure sounds easy to prove, a loving God who creates a torture chamber for his precious creations to bake in for all time. Who couldn’t believe that? Very rational.

                • rtanen

                  And if such a day arrives when the existence of a god is conclusively proven, I will become religious. If your belief set says it is too late, then clearly your god didn’t care to be convincing.

                • Baby_Raptor

                  Yup. And then he’ll send those of us that he hid from to hell for not believing in him because he hid from us. You know, after he created us to be unable to be good enough for him in the first place.

                  I can’t believe you’re sick enough to call this moral and good.

                • Spazticus

                  I can believe it, unfortunately. He proves just how “moral” he is on a regular basis. Though perhaps “amoral” is a more accurate term, in this context.

                  …Not to suggest that it makes it remotely less sadistic that he parrots his propaganda as fact, and arrogantly ignores the meaning of the phrase, “Pride goeth before a fall.”.

            • Nate Frein

              I have no proof that you’re not a bottle of sentient slime hooked up to wires connected by USB to a computer.

              Ergo, you’re a bottle of sentient slime hooked up to wires connected by USB to a computer.

              • wombat

                I’m pretty sure sentient slime has better reasoning ability.

                • Nate Frein

                  Can you prove it?
                  :P

                • wombat

                  Can you prove it doesn’t?

                • Nate Frein

                  <3

        • Greg Scott

          Which God? so many to choose from….

        • Carmelita Spats

          God’s tooth humps everything else. Weird and kinky shit happens when you’re left unchaperoned with Yahweh-the-Yahoo, his tooth and a rake. Ask the Virgin Mary.

        • Know

          You have read the bible haven’t you? then yo should know that god is a lier and a thief!!!! or can you not read?

        • rtanen

          Which god’s truth? Almost all religious texts assert that their gods are the only true ones.

        • Goape

          When you’re doubled over in pain from constipation induced by a massive overindulgence of communion wafers, is it the truth of some god that reams the Jesus body out of your colon or is it a doctor who’s equipped with more useful and mundane truth?

        • Peter_Dickinson

          and which god is that? Yahweh? Allah? Mithra? Krisha? Zeus? You’re going to have to be more specific friend.

        • Matt D

          I can prove otherwise, but you’d not enjoy the experience.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Frank, why do you hate the United States Constitution? Why do you want to force other people to live in a theocracy?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        Frank is just another troll trying to fan the flames and nothing more.

        • baal

          Where are the honest and decent christians?

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            I’m sure you’ve seen them post here occasionally. They don’t spend a lot of time on Patheos’s Christian blogs because they’re busy being decent people who don’t harm others or break the law for their ideology.

          • skinnercitycyclist

            They live next door to the compassionate and aesthetically sensitive Nazis.

          • Baby_Raptor

            If this is a serious question, I’d recommend you check out the Slacktivist. He, and the Christians that post there, are actually decent people.

            • baal

              It wasn’t really. I was more commenting on Frank/goddess/mattD/latest troll here and their terrible arguments (piles of insults). OTOH thanks for the mention of Slacktivist.

    • icecreamassassin

      The truth can easily be stopped. One particularly good method that has been proven time and again in history is to simply establish some system where there exists some entity that is the ‘holder of truth’ (say, some omniscient dude), and that getting information from said entity requires either some manner of sacred unquestioning reverence or is only accessible by a select few leaders of said organization.

      In that manner, one can easily replace truth with falsehoods disguised as truth, effectively stopping the truth.

      • Frank

        There is nothing you can do to stop the truth of Gods existence but hey have fun spinning your wheels.

        • The Other Weirdo

          Multiple gods, Frank? Are they ganging up on us poor old humans? That hardly seems sporting. I thought gods were supposed to be all-powerful, but they are acting like bullies in a schoolyard.

          • Frank

            You are welcome to play at the elementary school playground. I’ll pass.

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

              !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            • Nate Frein

              Sometimes I think you passed on Elementary school entirely…

            • The Other Weirdo

              Does not compute. Please restate and resubmit.

        • raytheist

          Frank, you first need to provide factual evidence that your god exists. We don’t have to put forth any effort at all in stopping something that hasn’t been shown to exist. Arguments, hypotheticals, conjecture, imaginary mind-games, and everything else in the Apologist’s bag of tricks will never add up to proof. So provide observable, testable evidence first.

          • Frank

            No I don’t. The truth doesn’t need you to confirm it to be the truth.

            • RobMcCune

              Translation: It’s the Truth no matter how untrue it is!

              • Frank

                Prove that God does’t exist then. What you can’t?

                I guess that means God exists.

                • RobMcCune

                  No I don’t. The truth doesn’t need you to confirm it to be the truth.

                • Frank

                  Nice. So here are, what next?

                • Know

                  troll

                • onamission5

                  What, you couldn’t find a thread on abortion in which to harass women, so you just had to muck up this one?

                • Frank

                  I’m sorry I didn’t know this was just an atheist circle jerk. My apologies.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

                  This is to easy!

                • Frank

                  I know. I thought atheists prided themselves on intelligence, logic and reason.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

                  Russell’s teapot, sometimes called the celestial teapot or cosmic teapot, is an analogy first coined by the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) to illustrate that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon a person making scientifically unfalsifiable claims rather than shifting the burden of proof to others, specifically in the case of religion.

                  Russell wrote that if he claims that a teapot orbits the Sun somewhere in space between the Earth and Mars, it is nonsensical for him to expect others to believe him on the grounds that they cannot prove him wrong. Russell’s teapot is still referred to in discussions concerning the existence of God.

                • Nate Frein

                  He may not be seeing the image. At least for me, seeing images in posts requires an actual refresh of the page (but I might be doing something wrong).

                • baal

                  I’ve been known to point to members of my teapot collection when someone makes a fundamentally unverifiable fact claim.

                • Baby_Raptor

                  We do, when the people we’re talking to would actually listen to it. You’ve proven that you don’t care. So you’re just going to continue being treated as a troll until you either tire of getting pissed on here or enough of us ask for you to get banned that Hemant will finally do us that mercy.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  [Fuck it, if you won't take the low-hanging fruit...]

                  Frank, you do realize that you just said you wanted to join in a circle-jerk, but now feel rejected because you weren’t cool enough to get in this one. You do, right?

                • Frank

                  Sigh. I’ll add lack of reading comprehension to the list.

                • RobMcCune

                  I’m not sure you should do that, your list of flaws is pretty long.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  You do that. You can pencil it in right between your humor blindness and your sinful lying a second time to soothe your ego after being caught lying the first time. Jesus wept.

                • allein

                  He wanted to join my circle jerk yesterday..

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Screw him! WHY WASN’T I INVITED

                • allein

                  Aw, you can come too!

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  *snorts tea reading that*

                • EvolutionKills

                • ZeldasCrown

                  It’s up to the person making a positive claim to prove it. I make a claim that the Earth orbits the sun, the burden of proof is on me, not on everyone else to disprove me. As an example, in particle physics, if someone had an idea that some new particle existed, (if we pretend the burden of proof is on others to disprove claims) as soon as somebody put forth their idea, it would be considered true, probably forever, since if something doesn’t exist, one can just perpetually claim that it does, in fact, exist, but just hasn’t been found. In reality, if something theorizes the existence of a new particle, it isn’t considered to actually exist until it’s been experimentally verified.

                • Frank

                  Are you not claiming God does not exist?

                • Nate Frein

                  No, he’s claiming there’s no evidence for the existence of any gods.

                  Do you claim Thor doesn’t exist?

                • ZeldasCrown

                  I said positive claims-so stating that something exists is a positive claim. Stating something doesn’t exist is a negative claim-how can one measure something isn’t there? One could only definitely prove/provide evidence for a negative claim if everything that ever existed or was ever going to exist was quantified (and whatever it was that was claimed didn’t exist wasn’t measured)-and that’s not possible. The default position is, therefore, that unless there’s proof for existence, then it is assumed that whatever is up for discussion isn’t true (which doesn’t mean that effort to investigate are stopped or are never started-investigations/experiments are started to prove positive claims, and when they fail to do so, then either a different positive claim is tested, or one’s opinion reverts back to believing the opposite, negative). So until positive evidence exists, the negative assertion is the default.

                • Frank

                  At least you admit you cannot prove that there is no God. Thanks!

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Everyone will be provided proof that God doesn’t exist in due time. You just have to be patient and wait for it. Any day now. Just wait. It’s coming.

                  (Well, that is where your proof is, right? Someday?)

                • baal

                  Prove to me that you have “no tea”.

                • John Evans

                  So I imagine you believe that Durga, Ra, Zeus, Wotan, Coyote, Amaterasu, the Invisible Pink Unicorn and Russel’s teapot all also exist?

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

                  I think Frank imploded.

                • Frank

                  Trust em there is nothing you could possibly say or do to make me implode. You have no power.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

                  Power I have!

                • Frank

                  At least you are amusing.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Gosh you’re tough and manly.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Mind your manners. I do too exist. :P

                • Mario Strada

                  I beat that argument when I was 10 years old. Are you 8?
                  The writing style would suggest not much older.

                  This has nothing to do with god. Even if he lived next door to the white house, it still wouldn’t matter. It’s a matter of the same constitution people like you seem to be so proud of when other topics are discussed.

                  Have your prayer caravan. No one cares. Do not have it with the school superintendent. That’s wrong and unconstitutional. It’s just that simple.

                • Frank

                  Try and keep up… I was parroting a commenter.

                • thfc1987

                  Horrible logic is horrible.

                • Len

                  Prove that God does’t exist then. What you can’t?

                  I guess that means God exists.

                  As does the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and the Invisible Pink Unicorn (bless her holy hooves) – and all the other mythical creatures ever dreamt up. Unless you can prove that they don’t exist.

                • RowanVT

                  Well then, I’m actually the reincarnation of a dragon. You can’t prove I’m NOT so therefore I am.

                • Know

                  Can you prove that I don’t have 10 kids? Well I guess I have 10 kids, the IRS is gonna hate me this year!!!

                • RobertoTheChi

                  Obvious troll is obvious.

                • Peter_Dickinson

                  Prove that unicorns don’t live on Mars? You can’t? I guess unicorns live on Mars. Idiot.

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

              Yeah…

            • onamission5

              That’s actually the defining quality of truth: verifiability. If it’s not verifiable, then it’s opinion, not fact.

              • Frank

                Be sure to tell God that when you stand before him one day.

                • Pepe

                  Yeah, thankfully the FSM isn’t as petty as Yahweh, so you’re still getting the stale-beer volcano

                • Mario Strada

                  You would think a god as powerful as the FSM would be able to have cold, bubbly beer come out of the volcano. Once you are bending the laws of physics, might as well go all the way.

                  At the very least, I’d let a few cold kegs float on it.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Jesus must love your judgmental glee at the thought of vicarious revenge on those who disagree with you.

                • Frank

                  No glee, in fact your position is a tragic one, and I am not the one who will be judging you.

                • Spazticus

                  But you’re judging us, RIGHT NOW. Oh wait, what’s that? “Judge not, lest ye be judged?” The fact that you claim our position, a.k.a. reality, is a tragic one, is evidence of you judging us.

                • Frank

                  You put yourself up for judgement. If you can’t take it….

                • RowanVT

                  Then you will be going to Hell right with us! I promise to save you a spot in the lava pool.

                • Frank

                  Actually no I won’t be. I know the truth and it has set me free. Why don’t you come along?.

                • Spazticus

                  Your opinion may indeed be the truth in some other reality, but you have no way to prove beyond doubt that it is the truth, in THIS reality. Provide sufficient evidence, and others will accept it as truth. If you can’t do that, then keep spinning your wheels.

                • Frank

                  As I said I do not have to. The truth stands whether you believe it or not.

                • thfc1987

                  You do have to, actually. That’s how the burden of proof works.

                • Frank

                  No I do not. It is not my burden.

                • thfc1987

                  Explain to me how it’s not your burden? You’re the one claiming God exists and his holy book is the truth. But, you can’t factually support your claim. Here, I’ll try this: I am Jesus. You can’t prove I’m not, and truth stands whether you believe it or not, Frank.

                • Spazticus

                  Ah, yes. Falling back into the recursive “It’s true because I say it’s true” logic. Quite the broken record you are. Is parroting back trite answers all you’re capable of here? You claim to like a good argument, but you can’t even muster a solid one of your own. If you can’t prove your case, then you’re not going to convince anyone.

                  You can keep flailing helplessly, arrogantly assuming you have some exclusive truth that the rest of us won’t acknowledge. But the fact of the matter is, unless you can satisfy the burden of proof for the outlandish claims that you make, then you have zero evidence, and we have precisely zero reasons to give your so-called arguments any serious consideration.

                  You’re about as convincing as the Westboro Baptist Church.

                • RobertoTheChi

                  While I am sleeping, my Chihuahua sneaks out of the house to run his drug smuggling business. When I wake up the next morning, he has returned and is once again the well mannered chi I know and love. You can’t prove that this isn’t true.

                • allein

                  Upvoted for Chihuahua love. :)

                • RobertoTheChi

                  I just noticed that your profile picture is of an adorable Chi. I’m surprised I never noticed that before because I usually zero right in on anything Chihuahua related (maybe I didn’t notice because I use mostly my cell to go online and it’s hard to see pics). Your dog looks a lot like my Roberto.

                  Up vote for Chihuahua love! :)

                • allein

                  That’s Pablo. He was a 5 pound lap warmer, Champion Snuggler. Best thing to come out of my relationship with The Ex. (He’s been gone about 4 1/2 years now, but at least I got him for the last several months of his life. I still miss him. One day I’ll get one of my own again. Or maybe two. Y’know, so they won’t be lonely while I’m at work.)

                  He is my avatar on a couple sites, and my profile pic on Facebook. For Disqus I kinda purposely picked a picture that you have to sort of squint to see what it is. :)

                • RobertoTheChi

                  Pablo was a handsome, little man and I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s heartbreaking to lose a furry member of your family. I’ve been through that too many times and I still think about them daily. Almost all of my Chihuahuas are adopted and I usually adopt the senior or disabled dogs, so I don’t get a lot of years with them like I would get from adopting a puppy.

                  Roberto is my latest rescue (I adopted him almost 2 years ago). He was a former stud dog in a puppy mill and spent 6 years locked in a filthy, small cage half starved to death and they were afraid they would never find someone to adopt him because he didn’t like anyone and was so scared of people. We bonded immediately and he’s been my best friend and constant shadow ever since. He wraps himself around my neck like a furry scarf and stays there all day and night. He won’t let me out of his sight and screams like a person and tries to block me and holds on to me like a little monkey if I leave the house without him. I just adore this little guy!

                  I’m sorry about Pablo. He sounds like he was a special, little guy.

                • allein

                  He was my ex’s dog and was 3 when I met him. We were together 2 years but a few months after we broke up (in 2006) he needed a place for Pablo to stay for a couple weeks. Two weeks ended up being 8 months. In May of 2008 he started having seizures, every 6 weeks or so at first, then later closer together. In July the ex asked me to take him again for a couple weeks; my parents agreed to take him because I was in an apartment where I wasn’t allowed to have pets at that point, and they had him until he died in January 2009 (he would have been 9 that April). Probably would have been sooner if the Ex had taken him back, but I at least got him to be reasonable and realize that he couldn’t take care of him properly when he was literally not home half the day 5 days a week (2 hour commute one way to work). My parents are retired so Pablo was almost never alone for more than a few hours at a time. The last day he kept having seizures (we never found out for sure what was causing them, but the vet at the hospital that day guessed he had a tumor that was producing insulin because they couldn’t keep his blood sugar up); after the vet suggested other possible treatments since what they were giving him wasn’t working, my ex asked if it was worth it or if we were just torturing him, she said “I won’t say it’s the wrong decision.” So we decided it was best to let him go. :(

                  Pablo was a sweetheart, almost never barked, would go to anyone who wanted to hold him (but I was his favorite). Loved Goldfish crackers and sunbeams and snuggling under blankets, preferably in someone’s lap. Took up a surprising amount of space in the bed. One day he trained my mom to feed him in the armchair, so then someone always had to sit with him while he had dinner. I have a picture of him on my desk at work with a large-breed-size Milkbone that was bigger than his leg (right above the pics of my parents’ cats who loved to torment him). :)

                • RowanVT

                  Judge not lest ye be judged. You are actively going against the word of your Saviour, therefore you too are going to hell. Be sure to bring marshmallows.

                • Frank

                  How pitiful when an atheist quotes God’s Word that they have no belief in or understanding of.

                • thfc1987

                  Many of us went to religious schools and have a far superior understanding of the bible than you do.

                • RowanVT

                  I was raised christian, and went to a catholic high school. Reading the bible turned me into an atheist because a “loving” deity would not do the things God did in the bible.

                • thfc1987

                  Same here. 14 years of Catholic school. About 8 years in, I started asking questions like you did, and “Because the bible says so” wasn’t really a satisfactory answer for me.

                • RowanVT

                  I truly read the bible for the first time when I was 13, in High School. My religion teachers *hated* me and my questions, because I hadn’t been soaking in naive acceptance of these things since early childhood.

                  Besides which, it’s hard to take the bible seriously as the inerrant word of God when your study bible has typos in it. I don’t remember who, or where, but someone in that bible sinnned.

                • RobMcCune

                  What is understandable is that you’re a hypocrite. Keep on judgin’.

                • Len

                  How pitiful when an atheist quotes God’s Word that they have no belief in or understanding of.

                  Atheists may have no belief in the bible, but we do understand what it says (many of us have studied it and preached from it). And we see when believers break their own god’s rules. We try to be helpful and point it out to them.

                • Goape

                  I also don’t believe that John McClane from the Die Hard movies is real, but, luckily, I’m still free to say “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!”

                • http://confessionsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com/ YankeeCynic

                  Ah, yes. The ever popular Christian concern troll.

                  I love the intellectual narcissism that is implicit in the concept of hell. “People may not agree with my view, but they’ll get theirs!”

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              But evidently God needs a caravan. What next, a starship?

              • thfc1987

                Matthew 6:5. That is all. Jesus thinks these people are hypocrites.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              For once you’re actually right on that one. Nominally so.

            • Know

              Now your just being “silly frankie”

            • raytheist

              Sorry, Frank, but that’s how reality and logic work. If you want someone to accept your version of “truth”, you have to show it is true. Perhaps YOU are convinced you know the truth, and that’s fine for you, but without evidence there is no reason for anyone else to accept it.

        • Greg Scott

          Frank not everyone is a believer in the supernatural. America is a secular nation, please respect that.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

            Frank is a troll and we are just feeding it.

        • GeraardSpergen

          This isn’t even about God, it’s about the Constitutionality of what Mr. Coleman is doing.
          Constitution trumps stone tablets.

          • 3lemenope

            OMFSM, paper beats rock! In reality!

        • Spuddie

          Frank, we are not even sure of your existence. The latest rumor is that you are merely a right wing fundy trolling algorithm.

    • Telegram Sam

      Fuck you and the clumsy whore your “savior” crawled out of.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Weird how you went totally silent on the question about the Constitution. Terrified at the possibility of realizing that the document stands in direct opposition to the Bible?

    • RobertoTheChi

      He’s doing a bang up job of using the Constitution to wipe his ass after taking a big, steaming shit.

    • Baby_Raptor

      If it were the truth, you wouldn’t need to break laws to spread it.

      If it were the truth, it would make you a better person instead of an asshole who doesn’t care about the rights of anyone who disagrees with you.

      If it were the truth, it would be evident to anyone who looked, not just people who make themselves believe it.

    • Matt D

      You’re a liar, and it feels good, right? I mean, who cares about the thousands of religions that say *they* have truth, when you do! Fight the oppression of knowledge and facts, they have no place in superstition and weak minded egotists!

  • ThyGoddess

    “I think that what people may not realize in this country is prayer is very much a part of school.”

    …Well, maybe it’s part of the creative writing course but besides that I Don’t see where it would fit.

    • Jim Jones

      Many kids will be praying they get a good teacher in a school with good resources — and that bullies won’t steal their lunch money.

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

      There will be prayer in schools, as long as there are math tests.

      Contrariwise, the more math tests there are, the higher the likelihood students will realize that prayer tends to be ineffective.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    The only comment from the news story so far but it is a funny one.

    “Way to go. Stand strong against these godless, terroristic thugs.”

    • Gus Snarp

      I love being called a terroristic thug. Even though I hate the redundant adding of adjective suffixes.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Edna Witherfork, 87, is Billy Coleman’s former Civics teacher living many miles away at Golden Years Retirement Home in the town of Obscurity, Alabama. She has heard about this, and she is right now on her way to personally deliver a finger wagging to Billy, and a formal, written retroactive “F” for his final grade in Civics.

    The press has been notified and will be there to cover the action. Stay tuned.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      I present the wagging finger…

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Funny how you never see Joe Klein caring about Civics enough to get out of bed.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

      I hope this is true, but I am skeptical since I can’t find “Obscurity, Alabama” on Google maps.

      Nor can I find a “Golden Years Retirement Home” in Alabama.

      Is this info. on “Edna Witherfork” reliable??

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
        • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

          Noted!

          Wow, I regret that I needed that but clearly I did!
          Thanks!

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            Will all rush in on occasion.

      • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

        They don’t call it Obscurity for nothing. :)

        • Rick Wiggins

          Obscurity is an unincorporated part of Oblique County.

  • dv

    I have two children that go to the city schools in Cullman County. I’ve thought about organizing a ‘reason caravan’ and see if I get blasted.

    • baal

      “In order to get a lawsuit going, though, we need a plaintiff. If anyone reading this has a child in the district and is willing to stand up to this breach of church/state separation, please contact me.”

      It’s a much heavier burden than most realize but if you can, they need a nominal plaintiff.

      • thfc1987

        Unfortunately, dv has kids in the Cullman City school system, not Cullman County.

    • ksskidude

      Please contact Hemant and get the lawsuit started. This is complete BS and it needs to be stopped. Please

      • thfc1987

        As I explained below, he’s got kids in Cullman City schools. We need a plaintiff with kids in Cullman County schools. Maybe dv knows someone willing with kids in Cullman County schools, though. That would be great. The only way to stop this crap is to sue these people.

        I understand the confusion, because Cullman County Schools and Cullman City Schools are both in Cullman County. The thing that sucks is that they’re unrelated.

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

      If you’re willing to take that risk, doing so might also help turn you up someone with kids in the County schools, who might then be able to serve as plaintiff in a lawsuit.

  • Dead_Air

    Yes! The Dark Master Cthulhu is pleased that Billy Coleman is praying for his return!

    Join ‘Cullman Co. for Cthulhu’ (the ‘CC4C’) and submit our soul to 3,000 years of madness!

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/563804760347434/

  • April

    Mr. Coleman is a great man and I am so proud that this kind of man is our superindentant. The schools website is used to announce a lot of different things that the community would be interested in knowing including this prayer caravan! Everyone needs to mind their own business and let everyone believe the way they want to believe! If you don’t like it don’t go! It’s completely voluntary! WAY TO GO BILLY COLEMAN! You have many many people standing behind you!!!

    • allein

      Mr. Coleman and everyone else can believe whatever they like. What they cannot do is use the school website/facilities to promote a religious event.

    • EvolutionKills

      Let’s try an experiment…

      Mr. Muhammed is a great man and I am so proud that this kind of man is our superindentant. The schools website is used to announce a lot of different things that the community would be interested in knowing including this MUSLIM prayer caravan! Everyone needs to mind their own business and let everyone believe the way they want to believe! If you don’t like it don’t go! It’s completely voluntary! WAY TO GO MUHAMMED! You have many many people standing behind you!!!

      I you have a problem with the statement above but not April’s, then you are a hypocrite. If you have a problem with this statement and the original, you’re a secularist. If you don’t have a problem with either statement, you don’t have a fucking clue about what the Constitution is or how is works and should be ashamed you fail this bad at civic duty.

    • RowanVT

      So you would be okay with the local wiccan coven going to every school and casting a magic circle for protection and prosperity on the front steps?

      • EvolutionKills

        Of course not, to them ‘freedom of religion’ means ‘free to push Christianity onto everyone else with whatever means necessary, other religions and the Constitution be damned’.

    • Goape

      How can you insist that “Everyone needs to mind their own business and let everyone believe the way they want to believe!”, and yet, in the same paragraph, praise and support a man who is proselytizing his personal belief system to the community?

    • Spuddie

      So you like taking a big dump on our Constitution in favor of sectarian discrimination. Duly noted.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Yeah…Read your own statements. *Everyone* needs to mind their own business. Including Christians.

      So when do you plan to stop forcing your religion on everyone? When do you plan to stop trying to pass laws based on “God’s will”? ETC

    • baal

      A schools website is not the local newspaper or local chamber of commerce (outward focus). It is there to teach children (inward focus). Would you still call him great if he were a wiccan and the ‘prayer caravan’ was instead the ‘wild hunt’?

    • thfc1987

      It’s against the law. Let me know when you have a law degree. Or are you one of those people convinced God’s law trumps man’s law?

    • Peter_Dickinson

      Slave owners would have loved it if everyone minded their own business as well. Injustice is injustice, and this is blatantly unconstitutional. I’m all for letting people believe what they like. It’s people’s actions that concern me.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Fire his ass. And preferably jail him as well.

  • BenFromCA

    Couldn’t atheists organize a “caravan” on the same day and present opposing views right next to Coleman? Wouldn’t that be a hoot if atheists drowned out the prayer with chants of “Separation of church and state!”?

    • thfc1987

      Given the Klan presence in that county and some of the Facebook posts about this from local residents, I think that’s a dangerous proposition.

    • ufo42

      Even if it was safe for Atheists to do that, it wouldn’t balance things out. The Christian Caravan is sponsored by a government institution. There are no atheist functions sponsored by the government, nor should there be. The constitution is quite clear. No government sponsorship of anything promoting a particular religion over all other worldviews.

  • older-woman

    And how does this hurt you or anyone else? If it was a shooter, I’d say stop him. If it was a talk against pagans, I’d say stop him. If it was a pitch on a zillion other things, I’d stop him. But good grief, how in the world does prayer hurt anyone? Find something important to spend your energy on!

    • thfc1987

      The Constitution of the United States is something important to spend our energy on. Stop deciding what’s important for other people, stop trying to get Christian privilege, and stop trying to make it okay for a public school to endorse religion.

      • older-woman

        People began this nation so we could practice our faith freely both inside and outside of churches. No one is deciding what is important to people other than pagans. Paganism is a religion also. From my vantage point, it seems that you are trying to get pagan priviliges and trying to impose paganism on all people. I suspect you would only be content in a country like the USSR was — where paganism was embraced. That didn’t work too well, did it?

        • thfc1987

          That’s rich. You can practice your faith however you want. The government cannot. Paganism is not a religion, and if you think it is, I suggest consulting a dictionary to look up religion. You said in your initial post that defending the Constitution isn’t important, so yes, you are trying to decide what is important for others. Second, I’m unsure how not believing in gods = religion. Perhaps you could clarify. Nobody is trying to get “pagan” privileges; we’re demanding the same rights as everyone else, including the right to be free from imposition of religion.

          Nobody is taking any of your rights away. Mr. Coleman could have done this as a private citizen. Instead, he did it in his official capacity as superintendent, a government position, and used government means of communication. That indicates a government preference for religion over nonreligion, and Christianity over all other faiths. Let me know when you want to deal in facts rather than straw men.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          Some words you need to learn:

          Pagan

          Secular

          Atheist

          Go look them up.

        • Spuddie

          Why does your faith need my tax subsidized support?

    • Spuddie

      It is. My tax money is going to fund your religion against my will.

      Your God doesn’t need my cash. Your Christian privilege is my theft

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Her god also doesn’t need the endorsement of government. I’m sure they could easily fund it with private donations. That wouldn’t make it legal.

        • Spuddie

          True. But I figure it is the same thing. Endorsement means people are using their public position, whose payroll comes out of my taxes, to further the religion.

          Its stealing from me one way or the other. =)

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            I contend it’s not the same thing. If he really was acting as a private citizen and government was in no way involved then it would be perfectly legal. There’s no reason why people who are government employees can’t organize religious events so long as they don’t use their government status to push it.

            He’s trying to make it look like that now, talking about how this press conference is on his own time, not his paid time. If it had really started out completely separate then it would be fine. It’s that he started off not even thinking about the distinction, and is doing a horrible job of trying to extricate himself from his government role for the purpose of organizing a prayer caravan.

            • Spuddie

              Fair enough. I guess he keeps digging that hole deeper.

  • J.R. Robbins

    The flyer’s wording clearly states they are not praying so much as protesting the FFRF.

  • Linda in PA

    No one is being forced to attend. No teacher’s job is on the line if they choose not to attend. No student’s grades will suffer if they choose not to attend. It takes place on a Sat. Everyone attending is doing so as a private citizen. The First Amendment allows for the free exercise of one’s Faith. That’s just what this is. Certainly there must be more serious issues to spend time and money on than protesting a harmless voluntary pray caravan – like people suffering from natural disasters, people who are hungry and homeless, or ending the killing of innocent unborn children.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      The superintendent’s position and influence are being used to sell the event. The event was promoted by the school on its media pages. Please read more carefully. The First Amendment does not apply in the same way when he invokes his governmental position. When he does so, it becomes HIS responsibility to NOT use the government to favor a religion, or even to give the appearance thereof.

      Are you not familiar with how pressure works and how people can be affected “unofficially” by not complying with those who have authority over them?

      Certainly there must be more serious issues to spend time and money on than protesting a harmless voluntary pray caravan

      Like complaining about people with respect for the Constitution?

  • Ashley Nasello

    This type of thing goes on all the time in every state. For crying out loud, the US government puts “In God We Trust” on our currency. When the Federal government does such things, is it really any wonder that state and local government officials follow suit?


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