Why Didn’t This News Station Tell the Full Story of a Christian Politician’s Visit to a Local High School?

You may recall that Pennsylvania state Rep. Rick Saccone (a Republican, of course) has put into motion a plan to put the words “In God We Trust” in every public school — and possibly every classroom — in the state.

Rep. Rick Saccone (at podium)

Last month, that bill made it through the education committee.

And earlier this week, Saccone visited Avonworth High School to speak to students in a “Problems in Democracy” honors-level class about politics and this bill in particular.

(What the hell was he thinking? He thrives on ignorance and revisionist history, and he’s stepping into the octagon with smart seniors?! Dear lord…)

If you read and listen to reporter Trina Orlando‘s story, though, it seemed like everything went without a hitch:

“I think [the bill] teaches students the history of our national motto and I also think that it reeducates people that there isn’t always a strict separation of church and state,” [student] Brady Collins said.

“I thought that they were very-well versed in the subject. They had great questions. Actually, they had better questions than some of the committee questions I received. So, they did their homework and I thought it was very exciting,” Rep. Saccone said.

Students at Avonworth took an informal vote on the issue prior to today’s debate.

About 60 percent of students supported the bill.

If you watch that news report, you hear from two students, both of whom support Saccone’s bill.

Yet the comments on the news station’s website tell a very different story.

I haven’t been able to confirm these students’ identities but check out what they’re saying:

For the two hours we spent with Rep. Saccone, almost all of the time was a question and answer session from students who disagreed with him, and this article did a very poor job of demonstrating this. A majority of the students in today’s assembly did NOT agree with Rep. Saccone’s intended legislation, and many who started the day agreeing with him left the assembly opposed to the legislation. The students that were against Rep. Saccone’s bill asked many excellent and stimulating questions, and Rep. Saccone would simply not answer the question or answer a completely different question. He often shifted the blame onto other people with valid questions.

Now I get to see the “news coverage” of this and I am incredibly disappointed. Not only did my teacher choose students who shared his and Saccone’s opinions but the news casters did absolutely nothing to try to get an unbiased viewpoint. How is this bill supposed to get any fair debate if it cannot even be covered correctly on the news?

If I learned one thing from this discussion, it is that the people in government and the media really do not care about what the voices of my generation have to say and I will remember this for the rest of my life. Thank you for opening my eyes, Mr. Saccone.

I am also a student who attended the assembly and I was hoping for a solid discussion about the bill. What we received, however, was a condescending Saccone tip-toeing around the questions asked. Rather than engaging in an active debate with us, he would simply state that “he heard this argument before” and would say the same thing time after time.

For example, when addressed with the question of offending people of other beliefs, Saccone would say that he’d been to enough countries to know that people would support the national motto and not be offended by the phrase ‘God’. Not only does that argument not make sense, but it also leaves out Atheists like myself and those who celebrate Polytheistic religions or Pandeists who believe that the creator of the universe actually became the universe. ‘God’ contradicts and clashes with so many views that it is unreasonable to say that no one would have issue with it.

As a student at Avonworth, who was actually in the assembly, this article is entirely inaccurate and misleading. A large majority of the students in the assembly heartily disagreed with Rep. Saccone. The only students that they interviewed were conservative students and were picked by the teacher to be interviewed. One of them was a former House Rep’s daughter. None of the students interviewed were part of the majority who disagreed with the Saccone. Also, the 60% they cited at the end was not accurate, merely a guess that someone made during the question and answer period. Saccone also treated all of the students in the assembly as if they were stupid and, in a condescending manner, did not actually answer questions, but talked around students’ valid points, like Representatives often do. If he thought that our questions were actually good, he did not act like it in the two hours we spent with him. I hope that, in the future, the news actually covers what happens and the voices of students are heard for what they actually said.

The students chosen at the end were chosen by the teacher, both conservative in their beliefs. Once again, showing a very biased opinion with even the teacher involved in the assembly.

The basis is that this news article and the assembly was dominated by inaccuracies, bias, and derogatory statements. The students at this high school should be given more credit for their opinions and openness to debate, not being met by a degrading Representative, and a biased news article

Last night, I attempted to contact the students leaving the comments for more details and the news station for a response. So far, none of them have written back. I’ll update this when I have more information.

(Thanks to Richard for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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