The Thaw, Evangelical Teens, and Persecution Complexes

I recently came upon a video from Christian youth outreach group Reach America. In it, Christian students explain that they face persecution in their public high schools for their religious beliefs, and list examples of this persecution. They finish by calling for change, calling for other Christians to rise up and throw off the persecution and restore the (mostly imaginary) Christian American of the past.

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For those of you who don’t have the time to watch the entire video—and it does get repetitive—I’m attaching a transcript at the end of this post. First, a bit of commentary.

Several things to note here. First, if my experience is any guide, these teens really do believe that they are persecuted for their beliefs. Second, nearly every single thing in this list has to do with ending government endorsement of Christianity, not with persecution of Christianity. But for many evangelicals and fundamentalists, the removal of Christian privileges appears to them as persecution. But for those of us who stand outside of Christianity, things appear far, far different.

Of course, these teens aren’t shy about their goal—they really do want to make America into a Christian nation, not just in culture but also in government. Now, they’re not calling for a reinstatement of Levitical Law. What they want is a country where teachers lead students in Christian prayers at the beginning of each day, sex education classes teach only abstinence, and modesty and clean language codes are enforced in school. Notice, too, the military rhetoric—I, too, grew up with this talk about being Christ’s army engaged in battle. And then there is the conflation between Christ and America, as though they are the same thing. I mean my goodness, the image they keep returning to is a cross resting on an American flag!

I think to some extent what these teens are experiencing is what I’ve seen called “privilege distress.” They’re convinced that they’re entitled to privilege—entitled to seeing their religion officially endorsed and enforced in the public square, or the very least in the public school—and they’re upset because they’re losing their grasp on that privilege. But what they don’t see is how it feels to be in another group—a group without their traditional privilege. They don’t know what it felt to be a Jewish kid sitting through a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in the 1950s, or an atheist kid sitting through official prayers at school sports events or graduation ceremonies today. They don’t understand that the removal of their privilege—the removal of things like Bible reading and official Christian prayers—is not about persecuting them but rather about ending discrimination against those who don’t share their same beliefs.

I remember being told growing up that a secular government was actually the endorsement of atheism and secular humanism, and thus discrimination against Christianity. This would be true if secularism meant that addresses written by Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris were read over school intercoms at the beginning of each day, but they’re not. Lack of official prayer is not persecution against Christians any more than bald is a hair color. Lack of official prayer is not discrimination but neutrality. We live in a country with a growing diversity of belief, and it only makes sense that one set of beliefs not be officially endorsed by our government.

As for the discussion of bullying, to be perfectly honest, that’s a bit rich coming from the same religious subculture that opposes efforts to end the bullying of gay and lesbian children. So some people make fun of these kids for being virgins? Believe it or not, people also slut shame girls who are perceived as being too “easy.” Teenagers can be vicious, especially when it comes to others’ sexual choices. That doesn’t make it okay—it’s not—but it’s not religious persecution. And this concern about being called bigots, coming from the same religious subculture that opposes equal rights for LGBTQ individuals, strikes me as missing the point. Finally, I find it highly ironic that concern about being called “goody goods” is followed in the very next sentence with a complaint about other kids telling dirty jokes.

But then, I never intended to go through refuting every point. One thing I want to leave you with—before inviting you to offer your own response to whatever part of the video you’d like—is that many of the ideas I grew up thinking were specific to my own conservative evangelical Christian homeschool subculture, including the idea that the youth must rise up and mount a rebellion against mainstream culture, restoring the nation to its (supposed) Christian foundation, are actually quite common throughout conservative evangelicalism in general.

For those of you without time to watch the entire thing—and it does get repetitive—I want to offer a transcript of the video (with a bit of commentary from blogger Grace of Are Women Human). Commentary to follow.

Christianity is being completely frozen out of America.
Why can’t I pray in school?
Why do I have to check my religion at the door?
Why can’t I write about God in my school papers?
Why do I have to tolerate people cursing my God, but I am not allowed to talk about God and my faith?
Why are they taking God out of my history books?
Why do they teach every other theory in science except creation?
Why am i called names because I believe in marriage the way got designed it?Some even call us hateful. Hypocrites.
Unloving.
Closed-minded.
Bigots.

Why can’t Tim Tebow praise God after making a touchdown without causing a national uproar?
[Reality: Tebow is immensely popular]
The football coach at Ridgeland High School in Georgia was investigated by the school board.
Did he abuse his students?
Is he a terrorist?
He allowed local churches to feed his football team.
[Actually, he forced his players to sit through sermons for team dinners]

*Several of the children gasp and grimace in an exaggerated fashion.*

In public school, I’m called lesbian or gay for not kissing, or for wanting to save myself for marriage.
In public school, dating is an obligation.
In public school, people are rude and disrespectful towards Christians.
Bullying is common.
What we see in our health classes—“sex education”
FOURTH grade and up—
is pornography.
People make fun of me because I don’t believe in abortion.
In public school, people believe Christians are goody goods and boring.
Dirty jokes fill the hallways between classes.
During class
before school
at lunch
after school, on the bus, off the bus.
Get the idea?

Despite modern popular belief, America was founded as a Christian nation.
My grandparents tell me that the church used to be the center of the community
In school prayer and pledge to the flag was welcomed and appreciated No one would dare not to stand place their hand over their heart and recite the pledge.
America was once a force for good.
America was once the hope for the world.
[Question: isn't this, um, supposed to be Jesus? Not America? ]

What happened?
In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled that prayer was unconstitutional in schools.
[false---only school sponsored prayer was ruled unconstitutional]
in 1963, the courts ruled the Bible unconstitutional. [also false]
Saying that if the Ten Commandments were read in schools,
A student might feel inclined to follow them.
Really?
For over 50 years christians have been unwilling to get involved
People who do not love our god
have stolen our country

Jesus said we are salt and light.
Salt and light melt ice.
It is time for a thaw.
President Ronald Reagan [of COURSE] called America a shining light on a hill, a beacon of hope for the world to see.
We are going to let our little American lights shine.
Through the power of Jesus Christ we proclaim today,
We refuse to be frozen out of the public square.
Our voices will be heard.
Let’s reverse it.
Fix it.
We are going to turn it around.
This is a call to our generation.
We are calling on the youth of America to join us.
At Reach America, we are creating a Christ Centered Counter Culture—a C4 community.
A place filled with Christian teens on a mission
to reach America and our friends for Christ.
Christ and our country matter to us.

At Reach America, we are learning to reach our generation.
We are servants, encouragers.
We are learning to hear god’s voice and adjust our lives to his will
God is changing our lives.
We are building life changing relationships.
We are a family.
We are a team.
We are an army.
Christ is our commander.
His will is our charge.
We are impacting our friends, our families, our coomunity, our state, our country.
We are in a war for the hearts and souls of our generation,
and we know it.

Failure is not an option.
We are going to win this war.
If god be for us,
who can be against us
The thaw has begun.

[graphic]

High school Christian teens, join us.
Join us.
Join us at Reach America
in the fight for our generation,
for our future.
In America,
we still hold these truths to be self-evident:
that all men are created equal.
That they are endowed by their creator
with certain unalienable rights.
That among these are life,
liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness.

Join the movement at Reach America.

Let’s reach our communities.
Let’s reach our states.
Let’s reach America.

Adults, please pray for us,
support us,
and get involved

Together, looking to Christ as a strength, the thaw will be complete,
and America will be one nation under god. Again.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Ella Warnock

    Bypassing most all of the nuts and bolts of christian “oppression,” I’ll just point out that if you’re told that your savior was hated and you’ll be hated for his sake, then oppression SHOULD be a very important part of your christian experience. You should welcome it with open arms. I mean, things won’t REALLY get fun until jackbooted thugs storm your house and confiscate all your bibles and religious material, burning them in the street. Until you’re physically restricted from attending church, and services have to go “underground.” Until you’re used as bait in cruel games for the entertainment of the heathens. Until you have a cross and a bar code tattooed onto your body.

    Right now . . . well, right now, it’s just trendy to believe that just because an atheist moved into the apartment next door, you’re horribly oppressed and the end is surely near. I rather think at this point that you enjoy it.

    • LaurenF

      That’s a concept that’s been discussed on Slacktivist a lot, I know. There seems to be a certain set of Christian that is actually extremely worried about the verses you cite, and so has to invent some persecution to feel more godly/feel better about the fact that their position in America is far closer to the Romans in Ancient Rome rather than the Christians of that time.

      • Michael W Busch

        Fred Clark calls the phenomenon “Munchhausen Matrydom”.

      • Kate Monster

        That is BRILLIANT. When parents sue/complain/call Fox News on behalf of their kids, is it Munchhausen by Proxy Martyrdom?

    • LizBert

      When I was teenager I used to lament the lack of persecution. I read Voice of the Martyrs and felt like my faith could never measure up.

      • Ella Warnock

        I did too, and it also didn’t help that I didn’t have a dramatic “testimony,” either!

      • LizBert

        I remember going to youth rallies and wishing that I hadn’t grown up in a Christian home. My life was boring, the bad stuff I did was fairly mundane compared to reformed atheist prostitute junkies who used to curse the name of Jesus while performing satanic rites. Why was I doomed to a boring life?!

      • Scott_In_OH

        Wow, I didn’t know the feeling was so widespread. (Another 3 cheers for the internet!)

        There’s a book called, I think, _Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory_ that gives another person’s experience with this sense of not having a sufficiently bad past to be saved from.

      • LizBert

        I knew there had to be more of us out there. I can’t even remember how many dramatic testimonies of being saved from the depths of despair I heard. In the end they might have been better off warning us not to think too hard since I think that drags more of us away than drugs and satanic rituals.

      • Ella Warnock

        I’ll have to read that book. I didn’t realize there were so many of us either, until I started really looking into it about a year ago. My deconversion was swift. :-)

  • http://bramboniusinenglish.wordpress.com Brambonius

    The rest of the world sees the US mostly as a very conservative Christian country… But these kind of scare tactics create a ‘we against them’ feel that is good for group cohesion I suppose. But it is also extremely insulting both for people who are really persecute for their faith around the word, and for several American minorities with a lot less privilege.

    It also makes me wonder about fundamentalism/evangelicalisms very selective way of reading the bible literally, while ignoring other parts of the bible, like the next verse, from the sermon on the mount that says other hard things that are also ignored easily, like ‘love your enemies’, and ‘you can’t serve both mammon and God’…

    Mat 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

    So to my American co-religionists: stop the whining please, especially if you’re not persecuted in any meaningful way of the word, and if you see certain other people as your ‘enemies’, bless them, try to do good to them, and love them instead of demonising anyone who disagrees with you…

    On the other hand, I’ve read several interviews in my life with people who were persecuted for their faith severely (in Christian or communist countries) who did take those verses literally, as well as the ‘love your enemies part’…

    • AndersH

      I should find some evangelical review/reaction to The Irresistible Revolution, a book that mentions a lot of these very same issues. From the author’s perspective, the US is completely antithetical to the American lifestyle of today, and think Christians must change their ways of life completely if they wish to follow Jesus. So it would be interesting with a reaction from the people he challenges the most.
      Of course, I’m not overly fond of the fetishization of suffering and poverty that suffuses the book, but I’m not a Christian.

      • http://bramboniusinenglish.wordpress.com Brambonius

        Evangelical Christianity is a diverse movement (even more worldwide than in the US) of which Shane Claiborne, writer of the irresistible revolution, is still a part as far as I know…
        But it is true that there are a lot of people in the fundamentalist corner of evangelicalism who don’t want to include people like him within their definition of Christianity even.

        Claiborne does know about persecution though, and standing with the persecuted (for their Christian faith, or otherwise) he’s been in Iraq (where some of the oldest christians in the world live -even though since the last American war over there a lot of them have dissapeared) while it was bombed by his own country, and has visited the christians in Palestine and has even been to Afganistan recently.

    • gimpi1

      I was very impressed with the Dali Lama’s stories of Buddhist monks being persecuted in Tibet by the Chinese. Most of them appear to have managed the “love your enemies” pretty well.
      Real religious persecution is too serious a subject to be trivialized by classifying “not being treated with deference” as persecution.

  • Abby Normal

    Hmmm. Now suppose a group of Muslim kids made that exact same video, but just substituted Islam for all the pronouncements about Christianity. I think about 75% of the US would collectively wet their pants and everyone involved would wind up on the no-fly list.

    • Richter_DL

      That’d be a pretty standard video for Islamist agitprop, with some further correction in imagery (though I can totall see them putting a crescent and a quran on the American flag, I know of no video where it’s actually been done; but it would be totally their style).

  • aim2misbehave

    “In public school, I’m called lesbian or gay for not kissing, or for wanting to save myself for marriage.”

    All of the Star Trek shows and movies put together still do not contain enough facepalms to properly react to that sentence.

    “What we see in our health classes — “sex education” FOURTH grade and up — is pornography.”

    I suspect that this person can only make this statement because he or she has never actually encountered pornography.

    In my experience, most of these teens haven’t even actually encountered any of the things they complain about – they just believe that they happen because the adults in their lives tell them it happens, and those adults believe that it happens because that’s what some other paranoid adult told them, and none of them have ever bothered to actually find out what it’s like inside a public high school, and meanwhile these “persecuted” teens are starting after-school Bible clubs everywhere and getting half their homeroom to come to youth group with them and having huge See You At The Pole events.

    One last thought: I’ve actually met people who’ve faced violence, arrests, torture, and the possibility of death because they were Christians in certain countries. People who had to leave everything behind to make a high-risk escape and who can never go home and maybe never even see their families again. So I feel like it’s nothing short of appropriation for American Christians to use the word “persecution” to describe the fact that nobody’s taking it for granted that their religion is “right” any more.

    • Conuly

      One last thought: I’ve actually met people who’ve faced violence, arrests, torture, and the possibility of death because they were Christians in certain countries. People who had to leave everything behind to make a high-risk escape and who can never go home and maybe never even see their families again. So I feel like it’s nothing short of appropriation for American Christians to use the word “persecution” to describe the fact that nobody’s taking it for granted that their religion is “right” any more.

      Absolutely. It’s nauseating, is what it is.

      • Eamon Knight

        I once saw a web comic on that subject. It shows a conversation between a white American kid and a newly-arrived refugee from some place where Christians actually do get arrested, shot, etc. The refugee kid describes what it’s like where he came from, then the American complains about not being allowed to pray in school or whatever. Last panel: the refugee kid tells the American kid to fuck off.

        Also: mp3 player just served up Dar Williams “I Had No Right”, a song about the brothers Berrigan (google it). Now *there’s* an example of Christians being persecuted in America — just not the right kind of example for certain people.

      • CarysBirch

        <3 Dar Williams

      • Christine

        They don’t just appropriate the word. They appropriate the persecution that other Christians experience, and use it to say that Christians are persecuted. They have managed to make solidarity a disgusting thing.

    • staceyjw

      Why don’t these kids all go to Saudi Arabia and preach, if they want to make “high impact” conversions? I’m sure the persecution, even execution is worth it to preach Jesus. Amrite???

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

    “But what they don’t see is how it feels to be in another group—a group without their traditional privilege. They don’t know what it felt to be a Jewish kid sitting through a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in the 1950s, or an atheist kid sitting through official prayers at school sports events or graduation ceremonies today.”

    I think it would be more accurate to say “they don’t care.” They perceive this as a Christian country; therefore those of us who aren’t Christian are failures as Americans, and need to either convert, or get out.

    “We live in a country with a growing diversity of belief, and it only makes sense that one set of beliefs not be officially endorsed by our government.”

    Growing diversity of belief or not, no one set of beliefs has ever been officially endorsed by our government. Evangelicals can yelp about how this is a “Christian country” and declare that the founders were all Christian as much as they want. It doesn’t make it true. And even if fewer than one percent of the population were non-Christian, those people would still have the right to practice religion or nonreligion as they wish.

    “Bullying is common.”

    A valid criticism of the public schools, except in context they seem to mean “bullying of Christians is common,” and they seem unaware of, or unconcerned by, bullying of others (LGBT youth, practitioners of other religions, the nonreligious) by Christians.

    • Rosa

      even if this were a Christian country, Evangelicals are still a minority, and within themselves they don’t agree.

      I’d love to start a “Christian Unity Government” like a model UN – send these kids to camp for a week in a very slightly mixed group (IFB, ATI, and Nondenominational?) and let them try to hash out what the rules will be for this Christian Nation they envision.

      • LizBert

        I’m not even sure that you would need them to be from different churches.

      • Rosa

        Probably not. That’s why so many of these churches are so, so small.

    • Ann

      I think this is the crux — if America is a Christian country, the rest of us are here as guests and subject to their approval. If they want to enforce discrimination against others that’s fine because it’s their house, their rules, and the “guests” need to conform to the host. They can tell themselves that their barely concealed hostility towards others is still magnanimous because, after all, they’re still tolerating these demanding guests. It falls apart entirely once you realize that it’s not their house, it’s the house of all citizens regardless of belief. As George Washington wrote to the Jewish community in Rhode Island, “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights.”

  • victoria

    Ironically enough, separation of church and state was initially conceived of for incredibly conservative religious ideas. (This is a reasonably good summary, though Williams’s own writing are especially interesting: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/God-Government-and-Roger-Williams-Big-Idea.html?c=y&page=1)

    • victoria

      Not ideas; reasons. Brainfart.

    • Kate Monster

      That makes me think of the way that we all learn in school about how the Pilgrims came to America to escape religious persecution, but it turns out that the “persecution” that the Pilgrims had to suffer under was the continuing existence, and government non-execution, of non-Pilgrim religions.

  • Jolie

    I wonder what those Christians would think about a Muslim student complaining about how s/he can’t pray in school, write about God in my school papers and being called names for his/her opinions on marriage and sexuality? What if someone demanded all public school should teach abstinence only in order to conform to the tenets of Islamic, rather than Christian faith? Would they empathise? Or wouldn’t they? ;)

    • Richter_DL

      “Burn the heretic”, probably. Or some variation.

      • John H. Graney

        That’s supposed to be a Catholic problem. These are obviously Protestants, so this comment is a bit strange.

        I’m a Catholic, by the way.

    • victoria

      We actually do have somewhat of a case study for your hypothetical:

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/13/louisiana_n_1593995.html

  • Richter_DL

    Notice, too, the military rhetoric—I, too, grew up with this talk about
    being Christ’s army engaged in battle. And then there is the conflation
    between Christ and America, as though they are the
    same thing. I mean my goodness, the image they keep returning to is a
    cross resting on an American flag!

    I noticed. It reminds me a lot of islamist propaganda videos. In fact, it is the same thing. And I’m pretty certain Levitical Law is something they’d like to be implemented too, making up some crap how that’s exactly what the Founding Fathers would have wanted. And that by “people”, the constitution actually means “good Christians”. And this is a widespread movement in America, probably as widespread as Islamism is in Pakistan. There also are religious colleges (an equivalent to the Madrassas that churn out Taliban – which means “student”) to reinforce that narrow-mionded and ultimately hateful and dangerous view of the world, enabling them to live in a parallel universe, much like Islamists do. And, like Islamists, they want to take over the country and cleanse it of all sin, with all the arrogance and righteousness and brutality of people who thing whipping babies for bad conduct is a good idea. Their faith is a dreadful, hateful, arrogant thing, co-mingled with 1920s racial theory and greed. I once read that fundamentalism is it’s own faith and has little to do with it’s parent faith, and I concur here. The main difference between Evangelicals and Taliban is the fashion they wear.

    Yet, that is who the majority of White Americans apparently thinks electable. I guess they don’t recognise the devil they know for who he is.

    • Mel

      Yeah, I remember being thoroughly horrified the first time I saw a American flag/cross combination. Jesus wasn’t an American or a Christian. So why are we warping his message?

      • Kate Monster

        For money and prestige, mostly.

    • The_L1985

      Worst example I’ve ever seen: When looking up private schools during my last job search, I found a school with the words “Military Christian School” in the name. Because clearly the military is a pleasing thing to a person who praised peacemakers.

      • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

        There’s a religious school near me that LOOKS LIKE A FORTRESS!!

        Like built of stone, with ramparts and murder holes.

      • gimpi1

        They most likely don’t know the real reason behind these architectural features. Accurate historical knowledge is in short supply for some of these places. They most likely just thought they looked hot.

      • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

        I live in a militia prone area, so I’m afraid not.

      • gimpi1

        That is frightening.

      • Richter_DL

        …. this isn’t the “III Citadel” I’ve been reading about? Is this for real, btw, do you know?

        For reference and lack of html proficiency: http://www.iiicitadel.com/

      • sylvia_rachel

        W.
        T.
        F.

      • Goatless

        I nearly fell over laughing at your description of arrow slits as ‘murder holes’.

        Thankfully my medieval history degree has nothing to do with architecture or I might be tempted to use that in an essay.

      • Sereg

        Murder holes are another thing entirely, they’re vertical holes for dumping boiling oil on the people who are coming through your gateway after breaking the portcullis.

      • The_L1985

        To be fair, Goatless did admit to not specializing in medieval architecture.

      • John H. Graney

        Jesus did *really like* Roman soldiers.

  • Mel

    As a public school teacher, I find these arguments really funny and strangely pervasive even in my not-particularly-evangelical portion of the Midwest.

    I think part of the problem is people confuse the correct restrictions on teachers (who are government employees) with students’ rights. They aren’t the same.

    Why can’t I pray in school? (Students can; teachers can’t.)

    Why do I have to check my religion at the door? (Students don’t have to; teachers can wear small emblems of their faith – cross, crucifix, star + moon, Star of David, there’s a whole list somewhere including symbols for atheists and agnostics)

    Why can’t I write about God in my school papers? (Um…. I don’t know of a reason you couldn’t if it fits the topic assigned by the teacher….)

    Why do I have to tolerate people cursing my God, but I am not allowed to talk about God and my faith? (I don’t allow cursing in my class; feel free to chat about your faith if anyone is interested in listening while your working. The students have had good conversations before.)

    Why are they taking God out of my history books? Why do they teach every other theory in science except creation? (If you want to learn about these things, why not take a class with someone who is qualified to teach it like your pastor. We do talk about the Big Bang. Or did you mean evolution? Because if you want to debate scientists on these theories you need to learn the correct vocabulary at least.)

    No one would dare not to stand place their hand over their heart and recite the pledge. (Or what? They’d get a beat-down? We have a flag in my room and students can recite the pledge if they want to. No one’s jumped up to lead it, though.)

    Sigh.

    • Mel

      Drat. I typed your instead of you’re. Sorry.

    • Conuly

      Teachers can pray in school too, they just can’t do it when they’re on the clock or otherwise influencing students. But really, nobody is going to be fired for saying grace over their lunch.

      • Mel

        Good point. You can pray silently as a teacher when ever you want.

      • Conuly

        I’m fairly certain non silent prayer is covered, so long as its discreet. Certainly I know Muslim teachers who pray, they simply make sure they pray in a private area and they don’t lead the class in prayer. I can’t imagine a Christian teacher getting too much flak for praying in the staff room aloud.

      • Ibis3

        They might if they’re applying pressure on other teachers to participate (i.e. making it a hostile workplace).

      • Conuly

        Fair point.

      • Mel

        Yeah, praying aloud around staff is a no-no. It fits under promoting your religion while on the job.

        On a practical note, breaking into public prayer in the staff room would be viewed as a sign of massively unprofessional behavior by your coworkers.

        Under tragic circumstances like the death of a teacher or student, many staff members will pray silently during the first meeting, but even then, vocal prayer is avoided out of respect to the many different faith traditions.

  • http://twitter.com/RonanWills Space Blizzard

    “No one would dare not to stand place their hand over their heart and recite the pledge.”

    Hooray for peer pressure and social conformity!

    • AndersH

      Exactly what I thought! It outlines exactly the problem with their line of thinking: they think that pressuring others to conform to their wishes for some reason isn’t a form of persecution of these others, while it’s persecution of them to not allow them to use the school as tools to pressure people.

      This overreaction to their privilege being taken away and persecution complex is both insulting and interesting, and I suppose it makes sense as a (egregious reference to your avatar) survival strategy. Though as Libby Anne, I would think others on the inside would start seeing how silly that position is.

    • Richter_DL

      It’s what their little world is made of. And they want it for you too! Isn’t that nice. Gun in one hand, bible in the other, and American Exceptionalism in their hearts and souls.

    • Rosa

      except those darn Anabaptists, practicing their allegiance to Christ first with great courage and conviction in the face of threats and violence. You’d think Christians concerned with freedom of religion would know about them.

      http://peace.mennolink.org/articles/flag_reflections.html

    • Sally

      Actually Jahova’s Witness don’t say the pledge. So certain children in public school every day “dare to not stand , place their hand over their heart, and recite the pledge.”

    • Saraquill

      That would piss of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  • http://annogus.tumblr.com/ Anna Gus

    Oh my goodness.

    This is giving me flashbacks to a film called “Last Ounce of Courage”. It came out last year (with a theatrical release!) and my friends and I went to see it for a laugh. (It’s Chuck Norris approved btw. That is not a joke.)

    It’s essentially about the War on Christmas in this small town where Christians are being persecuted (a kid almost gets kicked out of school for bringing a bible. Because that’s definitely a thing). A group of high school students take it upon themselves to hijack their Christmas pageant and perform a nativity play. There is definitely a moment I took a photo of when a student is holding a giant American flag in front of a Nativity scene while a soldier salutes. I almost threw up.

    • Kate Monster

      Question: Does Chuck Norris’s approval come with some kind of badge or emblem that I can buy in t-shirt form?

      • http://annogus.tumblr.com/ Anna Gus

        There are a few images out there, but I believe this is the official one. :)

    • aim2misbehave

      This is satire, right? Right?

      • http://annogus.tumblr.com/ Anna Gus

        I want for it to be SO badly, but it only takes reading the reviews on imdb to know that it is taken very seriously. :(

      • aim2misbehave

        Well, then, South Park needs to take this on.

  • Baby_Raptor

    They’re persecuted because other kids tell dirty jokes in school.

    Seriousface?

    I’ve heard of quite a few really Fucking* lame claims at persecution, but this has to be a new low.

    Do these people ever stop and listen to themselves? Why would anyone want anything to do with a group that screams that they’re being denied rights because someone used a word they didn’t like near their tender ears?

    *Word purposely chosen

    • Richter_DL

      Well, they say one thing and mean another. They live in a closed subculture, and speak in a code. A few translations:

      “Christianity is being completely frozen out of America.” – Nonchristians claim equal rights, and persecution is prohibited.

      “Why can’t I pray in school?” – why can’t there be mandatory evangelical school prayers?

      “Why do I have to check my religion at the door?” – why can’t I force my faith onto my fellow students and have them all live by the rules of my god?

      “Why can’t I write about God in my school papers?” – Why aren’t tracts about faith automatically given good grades, and why is putting forward positions of my faith about homosexcxuals and nonchristians “hateful”?

      “Why do I have to tolerate people cursing my God, but I am not allowed to talk about God and my faith?” – Why can’T I smite the unbelievers for being what they are?

      “Why are they taking God out of my history books?” – Why isn’t my history book written to make my people shine?

      “Why do they teach every other theory in science except creation?” – Why can’t they use lies in what little scientific education there is in America’s public schools?

      “Why am i called names because I believe in marriage the way got designed it? Some even call us hateful. Hypocrites. Unloving. Closed-minded. Bigots.” – I am right by default and you have no right to make me feel bad about forcing my god-given right to judge and punish on sodomites, whores, and sinners.

      “In public school, people are rude and disrespectful towards Christians.” – I am not treated like I am their better by other students, despite me knowing I am because I am more Christian than they are. Filty sinners, the lot of them.

      “Bullying is common.” – People sometimes don’t obay and fight back, just because we exact god’s punishment on a faggot or whore!

      “What we see in our health classes—“sex education” – FOURTH grade and up—is pornography.” – I SEE NAKED PEOPLE IT SEARS MY SOUL AND GIVES ME IMPURE THOUGHTS OH GOD SAVE ME!

      “People make fun of me because I don’t believe in abortion.” – I wish people would make fun of me for supporting an abortin ban, but they actually try and make me feel bad about it.

      “In public school, people believe Christians are goody goods and boring.” – so many students don’t want to join our bible readings and instead do fun stuff. Fun stuff should be forbidden. Like Pop Music! And girls and boys mingling in school!

      “Dirty jokes fill the hallways between classes.” – I feel soiled by dirty words. I wish people would be spanked for saying them in public, like I am.

    • John H. Graney

      What ever happened to the idea that civilized people don’t use bad language? Way to mark yourself “barbarian.”

      • josh

        It was found to be infantile and a common mark of cultural philistines and bowdlerizers?

  • http://valuesfromscratch.blogspot.com/ Marian

    I graduated from high school less than 10 years ago. In my high school, the final band camp dinner was always opened with a prayer, we still had a (optional) baccalaureate service at graduation time, the band director who didn’t allow kids to miss practice for ANY reason would excuse kids from Wednesday night practice so they could go to church, we had See You at The Pole and Student Led Bible Study (which in high school was genuinely student led, with all of us taking it in turns to present a “lesson” but in middle school we just invited a local pastor to come run the show for us), the homecoming king was the son of said local pastor, the vice principal’s kid was one of the most outspoken evangelizers, and even the kids you KNEW were “doing it” pretended outwardly to be saving themselves for marriage. My freshman biology teacher began his lesson on evolution by comparing it (favorably, and hilariously inaccurately) to the creation story. The AP Bio teacher was the sponsor teacher for the bible study, and I remember thinking that her faith was in jeopardy because she taught evolution and taught it well. Oh, and I totally prayed as a gimmick for introducing a speech in English class, and wrote papers mentioning God all the time. I was obnoxious in high school.

    In short, it was about the most Christian-friendly school I can think of. Truly, it was the most religion friendly school I can think of, as there were a very small handful of Muslim students (im pretty sure it was just one or two families) and it was made VERY CLEAR that bullying was not tolerated and they were allowed to leave class whenever they needed too for prayers or whatever, there was an LGBT group and I think my senior year some kids were even talking about starting an atheist group (don’t know if that ever got off the ground). One teacher was outspoken about the fact that she was Mormon, but never tried to convert anyone. She was just very open about a lot of things in her personal life, and that was who she was. I think my high school got it pretty right, in being neutral in policy but supportive of kids’ faiths. But in high school?

    Oh boy, I could’ve been one of the kids in this video. I was sure I was being “persecuted” for my faith, all the privileges I had notwithstanding. Like, it seriously never occurred to me that I HAD these privileges. Nor did I ever try to express exactly what “persecution” I was receiving. I was just persecuted because, well, everyone was persecuted, and we have to take back the country for God and yadda yadda yadda. And now I know better. Now I think that my school may even have been a little TOO permissive of Christianity, although as I said they were pretty cool about all faiths so I don’t think its that big a deal. Now I realize that I had it really good. All this to say… there IS hope for these kids yet. I would say that of my friends who all felt this way, probably 90% of us have outgrown that mentality, with about a 50/50 split between those of us who remain progressive Christians and those who are full on atheists/agnostics. Then there’s the 10% who went the other direction and are yet worse fundamentalist crazies. Still, a 90% loss rate isn’t bad… most of these kids will grow out of it, and the ones left won’t have enough numbers to do any damage.

  • Conuly

    Isn’t bearing false witness one of those sin thingies? Maybe these kids should read the Ten Commandments and attempt to follow them before asking them to be posted everywhere, because I’m pretty sure it bans lying about others.

  • Composer 99

    Long story short: criticism & mockery are not persecution. At least not in any meaningful sense.
    I don’t believe I know anyone personally who has genuinely suffered persecution on account of being Christian, but I would have to say that the idea that these spoiled teenagers can buy into the notion (carefully and calculatingly planted by adults no doubt) that they are “persecuted”, in the United States of America of all places, for being Christian, is both sickening and rage-inducing.

    • Richter_DL

      It’s the foundation for the idea of striking back. If they don’t have honest persecution, like Islamists can claim of Palestinians in Israel (and Shiites can claim pretty much anywhere except in Iran), they just have to make it up, so they can make their own actions seem justified on an “end justifies the means” basis, much like Islamists do.

      • Composer 99

        Richter_DL: That reminds me, I did meet some Palestinian Christians once, who get a double shot of persecution (actual or potential) – as Christians (from the surrounding Muslim-majority society), and as Palestinians (from the Israeli settlers, IDF, and where still applicable the occupation authority).

      • Christine

        Palestinian Christians have got to be the most popular “help these people out” in the Christian world. Not only can you go and get your social justice quota in, but you can help ensure that there will continue to be Christians in the Holy Land. That said, I quite enjoy the olivewood pieces for their own merit, so at least they have good business sense.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

    “At Reach America, we are creating a Christ Centered Counter Culture—a C4 community.”

    Oh my.

    • The_L1985

      C4? As in the explosive?

      Ka-BOOM for Christ!

      • Kate Monster

        Countdown to the inevitable “Our group does not condone that individual’s actions” press release…

    • Richter_DL

      I think they’re not quite at the explosive belt level just yet, though they have fully-stocked quivers of children. Funny, nobody seems to notice that makes the children *ammunition in a war*. But they seem to prefer IEDs and ordinary bombs – or their constuitution-mandated assault rifles.

  • The_L1985

    “Why can’t I pray in school?”

    You can. Go ahead. Bow your head in the classroom or cafeteria and start praying. As long as you’re not being loud and disruptive while you’re doing it, nobody will do anything to stop you.

    “Why do I have to check my religion at the door?”

    This is hilarious to me, given that nobody questions a child wearing crosses or T-shirts with Bible verses on them, but the second a kid comes into school wearing a pentacle, Om, or hijab, there’s a huge stink about it. Christians aren’t the ones who have to “check their religion at the door;” it’s everybody else.

    “Why can’t I write about God in my school papers?”

    I have never heard of anyone receiving even the slightest reprimand for writing about God. Writing about how your religion’s rules should apply to people who aren’t members of your religion is not “writing about God.”

    “Why do I have to tolerate people cursing my God, but I am not allowed to talk about God and my faith?”

    Cursing in general tends to be frowned upon in schools. As for talking, you should save that for after class, regardless of the subject. You’re supposed to be discussion the lesson when you’re in class, so you can learn. That’s kind of what schools are for.

    “Why are they taking God out of my history books?”

    Because it’s a history class, not a religion class. Religion is only relevant to history class insofar as people’s religious beliefs have led them to do certain things.

    “Why do they teach every other theory in science except creation?”

    See the above. Creation is an aspect of religion, not a scientific theory. Science class is for science, not religion.

    Plus, there are multiple forms of creationism, because every religion in the world has its own creation story. Would you like students to be taught that the world was created by Odin All-Father from the bones of Ymir the Frost Giant? No? Then SHUT UP ABOUT CREATIONISM IN SCHOOLS, ALREADY.

    “Why am i called names because I believe in marriage the way got designed it?”

    Because marriage has changed dramatically since biblical times even before gay people got involved. Unless you believe that marriage is a property transfer of a woman/servant from her father to her husband (a purchase, if you will) and that a man is perfectly OK to “own” as many wives as he can afford, then yes, you believe in marriage the way it was originally designed in ancient times. The rest of us prefer to treat marriage as a partnership rather than a purchase, thankyouverymuch.

    “Why can’t Tim Tebow praise God after making a touchdown without causing a national uproar?”

    Hmm, let’s see what the Bible has to say about Tebow’s excessively-public displays of faith. “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” Gee, I wonder if that could be why we’re upset?

    “In public school, dating is an obligation.”

    That’s funny, because I went to a public high school and graduated without being on a single date. I was mocked, sure, but not for not dating. I was mocked because I acted like an annoying little shit.

    “What we see in our health classes—“sex education” FOURTH grade and up—is pornography.”

    Please explain to me how a diagram of the inside of a penis is in any way the same thing as a Playboy centerfold or a video clip of an actual sex act, because I’m not seeing it. Ditto for the diagrams of the female reproductive system, which could not possibly be any less erotic than they already are.

    “People make fun of me because I don’t believe in abortion.”

    No, people make fun of you because of the way that you express your opposition to abortion. There’s a difference.

    Jesus said “blessed are you if you’re persecuted because of me,” not “blessed are you if people think you’re annoying” or “you are persecuted if people just disagree with you and aren’t forcing you to do anything.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/katherine.hompes Katherine Hompes

      +1 for you!

  • luckyducky

    I grew up deep in the Bible Belt and there were all sorts of violations of church-and-state going on regularly in my public school. Apparently in the decade-plus that I’ve been out of high school, school administration has conformed more with the rules (I doubt it but it is possible) and some of my classmates are OUTRAGED. They post on facebook regularly about prayer being excluded from school, etc. and how they are discriminated against. I did finally pipe up and tell them that they didn’t have a clue how privileged they were in a fairly diplomatic way and… crickets, which is unusual. They usually have no problem (trying to) rip me a new one.

    My favorite of late though has been the cartoon of the press blowing off Tim Tebow for trumpeting his Christianity and falling all over themselves to congratulate Jason Collin’s over coming out of the closet. Tebow, if he’s dismissed, it is because he comes off as approximately deep as a bird bath… and did they miss Mt6:5?

    “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

    I don’t care if you express your joy in a religious way but don’t expect me to give you a standing ovation for doing it. And my failing to do that does not constitute persecution.

    • Ann

      Here’s the think, Collins spoke about his life on his own time in a personal interview, Tebow hijacks a sports event to become his personal stage against the rules of his employer. If Collins had run up to the camera during a game to come out of the closet, or wearing rainbow socks, you’d probably have similar pushback. We all have the rights to our beliefs, we don’t have a right to hijack other people’s time, energy, money, schools, jobs, etc., to promote them. We should do it on our own time.

    • Alee

      You must be from Mississippi, because that sounds like a pretty accurate description of the current state of MS schools. A bill even passed recently affirming the religious rights of students, which is undoubtedly the basis for a recent series of mandatory evangelism assemblies held at Northwest Rankin High School. The administration claims that they were “student led” so it’s totally legit (even though they were during class time and all students were required to attend). They are now being sued by the American Humanist Association. I feel certain there will be cries of persecution all over the state as soon as more people catch wind of it.

  • http://twitter.com/sandpalace sandpalace

    Remember Carmen’s “We Need God in America Again?” That’s what this reminds me of. I grew up in a conservative Evangelical culture (my dad is a Southern Baptist preacher) and almost all of these same things were railed against when I was a teenager. And that was 15+ years ago!

  • Ahab

    The Religious Right agenda here is bad enough, but it burns me up when fundamentalist Christians claim that they are being “persecuted”. Being expected to play by the same rules as everyone else is NOT persecution. Moreover, it trivializes the experiences of people who are actually being persecuted and killed for their religion in other parts of the world.

    • James Yakura

      “We won’t stand for this persecution!”
      “What persecution? I thought the Goths had established complete religious freedom?”
      “Exactly! A good Nestorian like me, being forced to watch Monophysites and Arians carrying on?”

      – half-remembered exchange from Lest Darkness Fall

  • Trollface McGee

    “Christianity is being completely frozen out of America.”
    Like a wart?

    “Why can’t I pray in school?”
    You can’t? Oh right, you can, you just can’t force everyone else to pray with you, tragic persecution.

    “Why do I have to check my religion at the door?”
    Because the Communist-Nazi-Libruls hate you and want you to have an abortion first thing, followed by mandatory birth control and human sacrifice..and something about Benghazi.

    Why can’t I write about God in my school papers?
    Because it’s math class and the assignment was to figure out the angles of a triangle. Angles dear, not angels.

    “Why do I have to tolerate people cursing my God, but I am not allowed to talk about God and my faith?”
    Because it’s a hypothetical problem with a very low probability of actually occurring. Like the one about having to battle killer bees while filling up at the gas station, surely it would suck but likely to happen?

    “Why are they taking God out of my history books?”
    Why do I get dirty looks for wanting to discuss the Crimean War in the middle of mass?

    “Why do they teach every other theory in science except creation?”
    Because the word theory has an actual meaning, not just stuff people made up in order to make Christians mad. Creationism doesn’t fit the definition of a theory.

    “Why am i called names because I believe in marriage the way got designed it?Some even call us hateful. Hypocrites.”
    I don’t know.. maybe it’s the way you say it, like calling people fags and saying that they’re going to spend all of eternity being tortured. Nothing hateful there eh?

    “In public school, I’m called lesbian or gay for not kissing, or for wanting to save myself for marriage.”
    And if I were out while I was public school, I would be called much much worse things by good “Christians” than that and if I were to respond then I’d be accused of being intolerant of their religion and persecuting them.

    • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

      “In public school, I’m called lesbian or gay for not kissing, or for wanting to save myself for marriage.”

      Plus you know, why do they think it’s so horrible to be called lesbian or gay? Hrm, could it be because they think being lesbian or gay is a horrible, horrible thing?

      Creationism doesn’t fit the definition of a theory.

      You mean like the fact that it’s completely untestable/unobservable? That alone keeps it from even being a working hypothesis in terms of scientific inquiry.

      • Lili

        “Why do I have to tolerate people cursing my God, but I am not allowed to talk about God and my faith?”
        You’re allowed to tell people off for cursing; you’re even allowed to tell them that using the name of a deity some people worship is disrespectful; you’re just not allowed to follow it up with a mini- sermon on the virtues of Christianity.

      • http://autistscorner.blogspot.com Thalestris

        [W]hy do they think it’s so horrible to be called lesbian or gay?

        I KNOW!!! This is the part of the transcript that made me most furious. Like, they’re trying to come up with a list of ways their group is horribly, horribly persecuted, worse than anyone ever was, and what do they list as one of them? The possibility of being mistaken for a member of some other group, which it is apparently a Very, Very Bad Thing to be!

        Why, people might beat you up, or vandalize your house or your car, or keep calling your house to leave threatening messages, or even rape you if they thought you were gay! You might experience actual persecution …

      • stardreamer42

        That example is not religion-bashing, it’s sexism. Accusing women who don’t want to fuck you of being lesbians is one of the oldest tricks in the book — I got it back in the 70s when I was in college.

        I consider it to be a variant of “Well, if you’re not doing something you’re ashamed of, why can’t you just TELL ME about it?” It’s emotional blackmail. which has nothing to do with religion.

    • Little Magpie

      So much awesome in your comment, Trollface :)

    • The_L1985

      Internet-marry me and have my unbabies.

  • MyOwnPerson

    *Sigh* In a few years most of these kids will be mortified to see themselves in this video. The brainwashing power of the American religious right is immense.

  • Jayn

    “In public school, dating is an obligation.”

    Yeah, the pressure to date is a problem, but not specifically anti-Christian. I got picked on myself for not having a BF (and then people didn’t believe me when I found one–they thought an outcast like me was going to be dating someone within the school?), but none of that really had anything to do with my Christianity, since my lack of a BF wasn’t remotely tied to religion. Actually, the people picking on me were probably ‘better’ Christians than I was.

    “Bullying is common.”

    Oh screw off. You’re the same people who think it’s okay to pressure people who don’t conform to your idea of ‘godly’ no doubt. Guess what the rest of us call that sort of guidance?

    “People make fun of me because I don’t believe in abortion.”

    I’ll quote the response on another blog–”It exists, I promise.”

  • picklefactory

    Why can’t Tim Tebow praise God after making a touchdown without causing a national uproar?

    I’ve heard most of these before, but “People don’t appreciate Tim Tebow enough!” is a brand-new whine.

    • Lucreza Borgia

      They also ignore the fact that the NT admonishes Christians to not be showy in their faith.

      • Christine

        Which is ironic, given that I’m sure a lot of these people are on the “modesty” bandwagon.

      • Ms_Morlowe

        Don’t you know ‘modesty’ only applies to girls’ knees and shoulders?

      • John H. Graney

        The context of that particular passage is critical. Christians are not to be showy in their faith *in order to garner the admiration of others.* It in no way forbids Christians from publicly doing anything, a fortiori in an era when public displays of piety are at least as likely to garner disapproval as admiration.

      • Lucreza Borgia

        Cuz praying after a touch down is totes not showing off. We all know god is a Jets fan, amirite??

      • John H. Graney

        I’m not referring to anyone in particular here.

  • sylvia_rachel

    Do these people have any idea how much they sound like the Taliban? o_O

    Or is that just me?

  • gimpi1

    The quote that bothered me the most is. “People who don’t love our God have stolen our country.”

    Who the heck made it YOUR country? Jews, Atheists, Muslims, Pagans, and Nones are all american. Privilege distress indeed.

    • sylvia_rachel

      No kidding.

      Also, what happened to “Give me your tired, your poor,” etc.?

      • The_L1985

        Well, they just assumed that the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” were fellow Christians! After all, we heathen-types just hate freedom, otherwise we wouldn’t force them to have to put up with the fact of our existence.

      • sylvia_rachel

        Oh. Right, of course. What was I thinking? :P

      • busterggi

        White European Christians at that. None of THOSE people.

    • Ahab

      AMEN! The rest of us are citizens too!

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Yeah, good thing my Catholic-turned-agnostic paternal grandfather and my Jewish maternal grandfather never found out that they accidentally fought in WWII for a country that wasn’t even theirs! Awwwwwkward!

    • Saraquill

      Accusations of country stealing is quite rich, considering the people who were here first weren’t Christian.

    • http://www.facebook.com/peter.moritz.351 Peter Moritz

      “People who don’t love our God have stolen our country.”

      Which in turn was stolen by mostly white anglo saxons from the native occupants..

  • HR

    Bullies, plain and simple. And ignorant ones – they have no idea what freedom of conscience/religion means. Rather than studying history, they make stuff up based on their own preferences and prejudices. I wish that the Founding Fathers would suddenly appear like Marshall McLuhan in “Annie Hall” and declare to them, “You know nothing of our work!!”

  • http://suburbintwasteland.blogspot.com/ Suburbint

    I am so very tired of the whole “America was founded as a Christian nation” nonsense. It is revisionist history at its most flagrant, and easily disproved by anyone who cares to do even the slightest bit of research. The majority of the early settlers (those much-lauded Pilgrims) did not come to the New World for the sake of religious freedom, and those who did were only interested in religious freedom for themselves; very few evangelicals today be welcome in a 17th century Puritan settlement, and would quickly find themselves truly persecuted. The founding fathers were, for the most part, little more than culturally Christian, and the morals and ethics that influenced the Constitution and Declaration of Independance had far less to do with faith than they did with what civilized, educated, upper-class, white, male intellectuals believed to be how (civilised, educated, upper-class, white, male intellectual) people ought to behave. Not to mention the fact that the primary motivations for the Revolutionary War were financial (“no taxation without representation” ring a bell?). Back in my church-going days, a pastor that I still have the utmost respect for — a conservative evangelical, no less! — declared from the pulpit that the American Revolution was absolutely unbiblical and that anyone who believes that it was a righteous war, sanctioned by god, needs to get over themselves.

    Also, why is the pledge of allegiance so important to evangelicals? My mom is about as evangelical as they come, and she has told me more than once that she thinks that New Testament Christians would refuse to say it and she isn’t entirely comfortable saying it herself.

    • Lucreza Borgia

      Regarding the pledge: I think it’s because many evangelicals are very works based in their faith. An outward display of patriotism to what they consider to be god’s chosen nation is very important to them and is somehow proof of this person being as godly as themselves.

      • http://www.facebook.com/katherine.hompes Katherine Hompes

        What’s with this “America as god’s chosen nation” thing? I thought god’s chosen nation was Israel. Did I read it wrong?

      • Lucreza Borgia

        Many evangelicals consider America to be the successor to Israel after the destruction of the temple.

      • Joykins

        And after a gap of only 1,706 years, too!

      • http://www.facebook.com/katherine.hompes Katherine Hompes

        Thanks for replying. As an Australian, this is obviously not taught in our religious instruction…

      • John H. Graney

        God’s chosen nation is the Church, which is the new Israel. Some Protestants realize this, but some end up in weird syntheses of nationalism (which is not patriotic) and theological Zionism.

    • Things1to3

      Most evangelicals I grew up with could take or leave the pledge of allegiance. The pledge to the Christian flag was considered much more important. The exception was the phrase “One nation, Under God” which was held up as “proof” that America was founded as a Christian nation.

      • threenorns

        wierd how they all forget that that whole “under god” bit was added in…. drumroll, pls….. 1948. but apparently, it being added in 1948 means that it leached all the way back through the timeline to the founding fathers themselves, when someone pulled the fire alarm just as they were about to add the clause and in all the confusion, it was inadvertently left out.

        but…. you know…. they would *totally* have written it into the constitution if it wasn’t for that whole fire alarm thing.

  • Gillianren

    Couple quick points, here. First, are they actually not aware that Reagan was himself quoting someone? Because he was; check it out. John Winthrop, who was one of the people “founding a Christian nation.” (For a good analysis, try Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates.) At least Reagan’s speechwriters knew their history.

    Second, hardly anyone in my social circle in [public] high school dated. It’s true! We talked about it, but hardly anyone actually did it. Oddly enough, one of the only people who actually had a boyfriend that I know of while we were actually in high school? The gay guy.

    Third, I had girls in my gym class tell me that I was going to go to Hell, and Christians are persecuted for their beliefs?

    • Kristen White

      If half of them knew about the rest of what John Winthrop believed, they’d throw back their heads and howl. That’s the irony……

      • Gillianren

        Yeah, including “separation of church and state” . . . .

    • John H. Graney

      People really shouldn’t pretend to know things that they don’t know. I personally believe that it’s possible that the vast majority of mankind is headed to Hell–I certainly hope not–but I absolutely do not know which individuals will or will not be going. To be clear, I believe that it is possible even that the majority of Christians go to Hell, and that I may, God forbid, end up among them

      • Gillianren

        I don’t believe in Hell. Which means I don’t believe anyone goes there. But because I was doing something which violated their religious beliefs, it was obvious to them that I was damned. How did they know? Their religious faith taught them so.

      • John H. Graney

        Their religious faith taught them no such thing. It is quite possible that you will give up whatever thing it was before you die, and it is quite possible that they will acquire new vices before they die, and die unrepentant. If their religious faith didn’t teach them that, then either their “religious faith” is piffle, or they are not particularly religious or faithful.

      • Gillianren

        Or just thinks differently from yours?

  • Christine

    Oh my goodness. I just realised: at my high school girls could get away with wearing pretty much anything on their heads (as long as it wasn’t a paisley bandana). This was obviously to accommodate the Muslim girls. Now, I’m not saying we should be discriminating against those people, but that means that the only reason they let me wear a bandana on my head was because they couldn’t tell me apart from the Muslim girls. That’s discrimination!

    • sylvia_rachel

      Why no paisley bandannas? o_O Were they anti-paisleyist??

      • Christine

        Well technically it was no bandanas, but it was a case of definitions. They had to really walk a fine line there to keep it legal, and I discovered that as long as it was some other pattern on the fabric I could get away with it. I’m fairly sure that a guy would have had a harder time with some of what I was wearing (I know that the do-raggs were iffy, depending on what teacher saw them). But they had to give slightly more leeway to the girls – can you imagine if they actually let the Muslim girls get away with more than everyone else? Then you get into the issue of which girls are hijabi and which are just trying to use it as an excuse to wear gang colours, and which girls are Muslim but no one knew, and which girls are covering for other reasons, etc. However I can tell you that a paisley bandana (at least a red or blue one, I’m not sure I ever saw other ones) would get even the girls in trouble.

        I would like to apologise if your entire comment was satirical, and there was no actual question involved.

      • sylvia_rachel

        No, only the anti-paisleyist part was satirical. I was/am genuinely mystified by the paisley thing.

        I get the thing about gang colours, though.

      • Gillianren

        In LA, at least, paisley in red or blue is gang colours.

      • sylvia_rachel

        Aaaaand now I get it.

        I grew up in Calgary, where wearing bandannas tended to mean you were a bit too enthusiastic about cowboy culture ;)

      • The_L1985

        Yes, but in redneck areas like the ones in which you and I grew up, they were also generally worn around the neck, not on top of the head. ;)

      • Gillianren

        Yeah, growing up in Los Angeles and then moving to Washington State made me challenge some of my assumptions about “what everyone knows.” When I first moved here, it was to a town in the middle of nowhere, and I still have a hard time taking even Seattle seriously as “a real city.” A friend was telling me about the gang scene in Portland, Oregon, and even if I’d believed half of what she said, it still wasn’t a real gang scene as far as I was concerned. No one she knows has ever been killed because they were mistaken for a gang member.

  • Guest

    “In public school, I’m called lesbian or gay for not kissing, or for wanting to save myself for marriage….dating is an obligation.”

    That’s strange. I don’t remember any of that at Miami Beach Sr High, one of the most liberal high schools in all of Miami-Dade. In fact, a sizable part of the student population was made up of observant Jews and Christians. One of my friends was a JW (virgin and never been kissed!) who was actively planning her wedding for after graduation and no one made fun of her for it. The people who were into dating and sex didn’t say a damn word to anyone else about it. It’s not a pyramid scheme FFS…

    “People make fun of me because I don’t believe in abortion.”

    Typically, the only time abortion came up was when a fellow student got pregnant. People would ask the student what she wanted to do and give their opinion according to her answer. Abortion was never something to believe in of itself to anyone I encountered in school.

    “Dirty jokes fill the hallways between classes. During class, before school, at lunch, after school, on the bus, off the bus. Get the idea?”

    Oh FFS! http://www.cracked.com/article_19271_8-filthy-jokes-hidden-in-ancient-works-art.html

    This whole video can be summed up in this photo:

    • The_L1985

      Miami-Dade? Welcome to the boards from a fellow Floridian, and don’t kill us with sheep. :)

      • Lucreza Borgia

        LOL. I live in Wisconsin now. The land where public schools are mostly awesome except for a few districts.

  • Guest

    “In public school, I’m called lesbian or gay for not kissing, or for wanting to save myself for marriage….dating is an obligation.”

    That’s strange. I don’t remember any of that at Miami Beach Sr High, one of the most liberal high schools in all of Miami-Dade. In fact, a sizable part of the student population was made up of observant Jews and Christians. One of my friends was a JW (virgin and never been kissed!) who was actively planning her wedding for after graduation and no one made fun of her for it. The people who were into dating and sex didn’t say a damn word to anyone else about it. It’s not a pyramid scheme FFS…

    “People make fun of me because I don’t believe in abortion.”

    Typically, the only time abortion came up was when a fellow student got pregnant. People would ask the student what she wanted to do and give their opinion according to her answer. Abortion was never something to believe in of itself to anyone I encountered in school.

    “Dirty jokes fill the hallways between classes. During class, before school, at lunch, after school, on the bus, off the bus. Get the idea?”

    Oh FFS! http://www.cracked.com/article_19271_8-filthy-jokes-hidden-in-ancient-works-art.html

    Ugh!

    This whole video can be summed up in this photo:

  • Lucreza Borgia

    “In public school, I’m called lesbian or gay for not kissing, or for wanting to save myself for marriage….dating is an obligation.”

    That’s strange. I don’t remember any of that at Miami Beach Sr High, one of the most liberal high schools in all of Miami-Dade. In fact, a sizable part of the student population was made up of observant Jews and Christians. One of my friends was a JW (virgin and never been kissed!) who was actively planning her wedding for after graduation and no one made fun of her for it. The people who were into dating and sex didn’t say a damn word to anyone else about it. It’s not a pyramid scheme FFS…

    “People make fun of me because I don’t believe in abortion.”

    Typically, the only time abortion came up was when a fellow student got pregnant. People would ask the student what she wanted to do and give their opinion according to her answer. Abortion was never something to believe in of itself to anyone I encountered in school.

    “Dirty jokes fill the hallways between classes. During class, before school, at lunch, after school, on the bus, off the bus. Get the idea?”

    Oh FFS! Dirty jokes have been around FOREVER. http://www.cracked.com/article_19271_8-filthy-jokes-hidden-in-ancient-works-art.html

    This whole video can be summed up in this photo:

    • The_L1985

      Oh, that was you? I thought it was a newbie when I saw the copies posted as “Guest.” Damn Disqus…

  • DoctorDJ

    Hemant has posted some very good responses to this silliness.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/05/20/more-atheist-responses-to-the-thaw/

    But Dusty remains my very NSFW/language favorite:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtRxYf7APwE&feature=player_embedded

    • Lucreza Borgia

      HAHAHAHAHA

      That video is awesome

  • Kristen White

    There is hope. I assign a persuasive essay early in the school year with a minor research component. I approve all the topics (mainly so I don’t have to read twenty essays about abortion and legalizing pot). Last year, a student asked if she could do hers on discrimination against Christians in the U.S.. I of course told her that she could, and suggested she focus on researching court cases and stay away from opinion-based sources. Halfway through the project, I asked her how it was going and she said that she was really surprised because she thought there was a lot of discrimination against Christians in the U.S., and most of what she found was that Christians used to get special privileges that they’re not getting anymore. She ended up writing a very nice essay about how other Christians should stop whining about being discriminated against. Score one for the power of research and an open mind!

    • Gillianren

      Good for her!

      • Kate Monster

        Now, THAT is a powerful assignment!

        Can I ask what the primary essay question is? And what level do you teach (I have college freshmen)?

  • http://Thechurchproject.me/ Tracey

    I went to Reach America’s website to get some conversation over there. Edit: I have a comment up now, but maybe I shouldn’t have bothered. They don’t seem very listen-y. All I did was ask how freedom of the press is a Christian value…remind me again where Jesus addressed this?

  • smrnda

    Things were great in the US before they took prayer out of schools. Yeah, right.

    You know why you can’t decide to write about your god in your paper? Because you’re supposed to write about something from class to demonstrate understanding of what you were taught in school, not church. You can’t just hijack any and every school project, task and discussion to subvert it into a pitch for your religious beliefs. We’ve got subjects *other* than theology to learn, kids.

    I notice that organizations designed to mobilize young people to reach the world for Christ already exist, but everybody starting a new one (or re-branding an old one) acts as if they’re the first person to come up with this idea.Totally, Campus Crusade for Christ hasn’t existed for decades.

    • Saraquill

      Praying in schools totally failed to stop the Bath School Disaster.

    • Joykins

      Campus Crusade for Christ is called “Cru” now to rebrand it as cool and hip.

      • The_L1985

        Which works just as well as other attempts at rebranding without changing the product, I’d imagine.

    • alwr

      I’ve pissed people off so many times when told some story of some “Christian” kid doing something for an assignment related to sharing faith and being “persecuted” for it, because every single time I say “did that meet the requirements of the assignment?” Pay close attention to those stories, because 9 times out of 10, it didn’t. I recall one five years ago or so about a kid drawing Jesus in art class and failing. Not persecution because he was supposed to draw a still life chosen from objects in front of him in the room. And the tenth time? Usually a teacher over zealously worried about separation of church and state nervously gave a bad grade and admins correct it, case closed.

  • Gail

    I love the claim that sex-ed is pornography. I mean, who doesn’t get turned on by labeled diagrams of the reproductive system?

    • sylvia_rachel

      Right?

      Listen, I’ve seen sex-ed materials,* and I’ve seen pornography, and they are NOT THE SAME THING. Not even remotely. Seriously, WHAT?

      *Yes, starting in grade 4 with filmstrips ::yes I am that old:: about
      armpit hair and the menstrual cycle, and progressing to the HILARIOUSLY BAD “Am I
      Normal”
      . (Seriously, click the link. It may be the funniest 20 minutes of blurry 1970s footage you see all week.) And then there was the one where everyone wore identical polo shirts in different colours, because yeah, that’s totally how junior-high kids dress.

    • Joykins

      Trust me: the acting in sex ed films, bad as it is, is worlds superior to the “acting” in porn.

      • sylvia_rachel

        This is true.

        Actually, in the above film I’m not sure it’s bad acting so much as dialogue so implausible that suspension of disbelief becomes impossible. I mean, seriously, does the adolescent boy exist anywhere in the universe who would walk into the public library, bypass the card catalogue, go up to a female librarian *standing on a stool* and call up to her, “I’d like to know about the male penis, please!”

      • Anat

        The male penis? As opposed to some other kind?

      • sylvia_rachel

        Right?

        That’s exactly the question every kid in my class (and, 4 years later, my little brother’s class) asked every time we had to watch this movie.

  • Saraquill

    I noticed that they have one brown skinned boy, and he flits in and out of view as though they’re scared he might damage their point.

    Also, it’s quite rude to flop the flag onto the ground. It’s even more so to stick a large of ice on it and allow the thing to become wet and possibly dirty or stained from running dyes and any dirt mixing with the water. Their treatment of the cross is not any better.

    • sylvia_rachel

      Yeah, I noticed too that other kids are all really … Nordic-looking.

      I have lived for the past 20 years in Toronto, which has been called the world’s most multicultural city, and before that I lived in a smaller, less multicultural city, but still one where my neighbours and my classmates were from a variety of continents and cultures. (Sometimes I think I must be overestimating the level of diversity I grew up with, because after all this was the Jim Keegstra era in Alberta!, but then I look at yearbooks and snapshots of my friends and realize, no, it really was like that.) Around here, it’s very rare to see such a homogeneous group of kids that age outside some extremely culturally specific context (e.g., in a weekend Japanese school class, it’s safe to assume that the vast majority of the kids will have at least one Japanese grandparent — but then again, in my daughter’s Hebrew school there are Asian kids and black kids as well as white kids…).

      And the churches!! On a 1km stretch of the street I live on we’ve got 2 Seventh-Day Adventist churches (one Filipino, one Ukrainian; the Ukrainian just opened, and used to be a madrassa); 2 other churches, one of which has services in both Korean and English; a Reconstructionist synagogue; and a Buddhist temple.

      Anyway, in a public high school in Toronto, a group that homogeneous means you’re selecting the kids based on something other than just religion.

      So, while of course I know intellectually that lots and lots of places in North America must be preponderantly white, it’s hard for me to look at that video and not immediately go — perhaps unfairly — “All those kids are blonde! I call shenanigans!”

  • Rilian Sharp

    They complain that they are persecuted and then openly state that they want want to persecute other people? Uh buuuhh what.

    • Kate Monster

      Silly. It’s only persecution when people do it to them. When they do it, it’s God’s justice flowing out over the land!

      • Rilian Sharp

        irrelevant comment: Avenue Q!

  • Goatless

    ‘Bullying is common’

    Sadly you’re right. Bullying is common. Too common. And too often with tragic results. What you don’t seem to realise is that your attitudes are only perpetuating the bullying, you just want to be on the other side of it. You don’t want to stop it for everyone, you just want it to stop for your group.

    ‘That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’

    You mean like not being forced to listen or take part in Christian prayer? Like being able to be openly LGBT without bullying? Like being able to practice your religion without somebody else’s getting in the way? Like not having to conform to some outdated patriarchal notion of ‘modesty’? Like having a fact based education? Like being taught about sex and how to deal with it in a mature and responsible way?

    That kind of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

  • Kate Monster

    “[...] christians have been unwilling to get involved”

    Well, OBVIOUSLY this is the big problem. Not enough Christians in American policy and politics. And not enough Christians willing to even try to get through the massive atheist/gay/Muslim/witchcraft/evolution/porn/duplex-divorcee voting bloc.

    Obviously.

    Back to you, Jon. http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-june-22-2005/the-long-war-on-christianity

    • http://www.facebook.com/katherine.hompes Katherine Hompes

      Gotta watch those duplex-dwelling divorcees!

  • Kate Monster

    Why are all these evangelical parents sending their children to the Strawman’s Academy of Evolution and Profanity? Aren’t there other schools nearby?

  • Alee

    I have a feeling that all of these kids are homeschooled, and these rants are directly from the minds and mouths of their parents, who are telling them how the evil public schools have gone to hell in a handbasket. I also feel certain that they all use history books in some way influenced by David Barton. Also, newsflash: people using language you find to be distasteful on the school bus is not persecution. Welcome to the real world, where you don’t get to censor the speech of the people around you just because you find it offensive.

    And about the sex-ed classes: this is another example that makes me believe none of these kids have been inside a public school. If you think “The Miracle of Life” is pornography, you are the problem – not the curriculum. I guess these kids would have public schools teach that storks drop off babies instead.

  • http://www.facebook.com/katherine.hompes Katherine Hompes

    You know, I sometimes read this sort of thing just to remind myself that there really are people who believe this (expletive). I struggle to understand why, of course. I guess I just don’t have the talent for cognitive dissonance that these people possess.

  • Jurgan

    “In school prayer and pledge to the flag was welcomed and appreciated No
    one would dare not to stand place their hand over their heart and recite
    the pledge.”

    This is the most disturbing part to me. People pressured and shamed into showing nationalistic support for their country? Isn’t that, you know, fascism?

    • Conuly

      Wrapped in a flag? Check! Carrying a cross? Double check!

  • Stephanie

    Thanks so much for this post. I am a Christian, and I’ve always been very uncomfortable with the idea that our nation is a Christian nation or that our forefathers were all Christians establishing a Christian country. It just is not true, and I’m confused as to why some evangelicals persist in telling this false story. I also love what you mentioned about “privilege distress”. I never thought about it that way, and you have a really good point. Our nation is supposed to be a place for people of all beliefs and cultures. There is no government sanctioned belief system, and there shouldn’t be. Why should I be able to pray aloud in a school or workplace when my Muslim or Jewish neighbor doesn’t have that same privilege? Why should the ten commandments be displayed and not other sacred texts? I believe what I believe, but it’s not my right to lord it over others. You have great points and they made me think. Real Christian(or any other belief system) persecution is very serious and I don’t think these teenagers would be acting in such a light-hearted way if they experienced it. The video is actually really disrespectful for people who are actually suffering in some way for their beliefs.

  • Ember

    As a life-long heathen who tends to follow fairly traditional relationship ideas, I can say with absolute certainty that comments regarding not dating or waiting for marriage have absolutely nothing to do with these teens religion (unless said teens are making it about their religion).

    I didn’t date at all until I was 17, between junior and senior year in high school. Most of the school thought I was a lesbian. This didn’t bother me, since I have no problem with being gay, although I thought it was a bit ridiculous. Dating women makes me a lesbian. Dating no one makes me asexual. I wasn’t -against- dating, but I tend to be an all-or-nothing type of person so high school flings just didn’t appeal to me.

    Friends who knew I wasn’t a lesbian, that I just wasn’t interested in anyone, would sometimes give me a hard time about being too picky. So I spent less time with those friends and took note that their relationships tended to devolve into petty fights between cheating. Oh well.

    Eventually I met a guy from a different school that I really connected with. We dated and no one really cared. I don’t regret any of it, nor was I particularly bothered by any of the rumors or comments as they happened. It was normal high school politics. I suspect that part of the issue with “persecuted” teens is often that they DO want to date like normal – I think most people do, hence it being “normal” – but can not due to indoctrination or their parents reaction. Otherwise they’d be much more ambivalent and comfortable with their choice, as I was. Sad.

  • staceyjw

    How totally disgusting. They HAVE those rights, they just cannot force them on others. But that is the problem isn’t it- that they cannot make everyone do what they want.
    I sure hope they outgrow it. If not, they will become even more hardcore, and the country will be even more polarized. That may not be a bad thing, if the theocrats will just secede already, and leave the rest of us alone.

  • Ms_Morlowe

    This may seem like a weird question, but who are these ‘Christians’? Like, what denomination? Or do they all just bond together in times of (non-existent) crises? Or are they assuming that theirs is the only Christianity? I guess I have this funny image of none of the kids liking each other when the camera’s off because one’s Presbyterian, another Methodist, a CoE (Episcopalian?), a Catholic, and a Baptist. “We need to be able to say the Lord’s Prayer in school!” – “Yeah! Amen!” – “The Catholic version!” – “HERETIC!”

    • alwr

      I highly doubt any of them are Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian or Catholic. Baptist, yes. And other evangelical denominations.

  • Stephanie

    Wow.
    I wonder if my muslim friend in high school who used to be excused from class twice a day to go to the principal’s office for prayer, so she could have a quiet place to pray, feels like prayer is outlawed in school. Probably not. But I’m sure her rights are irrelevant.
    Also I didn’t date or have sex or kiss anyone in high school. Nobody ever made fun of me about it. Nobody called me virgin, and nobody called me lesbian either. Although that’s probably because I didn’t go up to kids I saw making out in the quad and tell them they were sinners and they should wait for marriage… I dare each of these kids to not preach to another kid for a week and see if anyone even notices that they are Christian/virgin/goodygoods/whatever. But I’m sure that suggestion would be persecution as well.
    I don’t feel the least bit persecuted by my public school experience as a Jew but I could still do these kids a few better with this:
    How many times has Christmas and Easter fallen on a school day? I’m gonna go with never. How many times has Yom Kippur, Ramadan, [insert non christian religious holiday here] fallen on a school day? Probably 9 times out of 10 (this year Yom Kippur is a saturday). how many times have those kids had to take home work or take a harder make up test because they had to miss a school day when you get a whole freaking week off for Christmas.
    After all these things have been “taken away” from you, you are still catered to so much more than anyone else and you don’t even see it.

  • stardreamer42

    For reference’s sake: The Distress of the Privileged.


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