Believers still largely don’t get the law.

Assholes: you're surrounded by them.My, my.  I read the MSNBC article about the growing legal firestorm down in Little Rock, where a public school is busing kids to a church during school hours to see a production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” which contains an unequivocal pro-Christian message.  The believers in the comments are a slavering bunch.

Liberals are all ABOUT free speech . As long as you agree with everything they say . a55holes .

Random capitals?  Check.  Use of the number 5 in place of a random consonant in a swear word, likely to assure Jesus that they’re still pure of heart?  Check.  Because it would be the inclusion of the letter “s” that would mean they had sinned, not the calling other people assholes.

And atheists are totally all about opposing anything oppositional, that’s why we are petitioning the government to close the church down altogether instead of pointing out that taking kids to a church during learning time to hear a sectarian religious message is against the law.

Congratulations, Atheists. You’re finally as bad, useless, and whiny as all the religious groups in this world.

Yup!  By wanting to maintain the separation of church and state (and, with it, the religious liberty of people of all faiths), we’re as bad as the Catholics (who, as an institution, protect child rapists) and Evangelicals (who oppose equal rights for gays, help to maintain scientific ignorance in children, and want to demolish the separation of church and state).  Because all complaints are equally valid, you see…

These whiners honestly annoy the hell out of me and I am also atheist.  Believe it or not, not all atheists feel the need to cry every time someone wants to practice their religion, much the same as not every Muslim is a terrorist and not every Christian is a fundamentalist nut-bar.

Thanks concern troll.  There seems to be a pattern in these comments, that by not wanting the federal government to endorse a religion that we’re somehow keeping people from practicing their faith at all.  I’m not sure how to get to people who can’t make simple distinctions like this.

And, for the record, these comments all had been given hundreds of thumbs up votes in the comments.  These are not the random ramblings of the elusive fundamentalist.  These are the popular comments.  Churches are spectacular at keeping their congregations ignorant of science, but they also serve as an IV of ignorance in the realm of law and government as well.  These beliefs are not a personal matter (as so many in the comments of that article assert), but they actually impact communities and nations, and in precisely the way ignorance can be expected to impact society: negatively.

Some of them are tamer, but obtuse in their inability to see the real issue.  This comment, at the time of this posting, had 1,775 thumbs ups, and only 91 thumbs downs.

“Would you let your children go see the play?”


For those people who have objections to this play, keep your children home that day. Simple.

Dad came in and thumped on that one.

I have an even more simple solution:  Have the school as an arm of the state select plays to attend that are religiously neutral and aren’t held in religious venues.  Follow the law.
If you want your children to watch Charlie Brown so damned badly, then get up off your **** and TAKE them to see it.

And he’s spot on.  Students and parents shouldn’t have to turn a blind eye to violations of the law when their children are at school to learn.

Here’s a comment that has received 1,211 thumbs ups, and 126 thumbs downs.

I’d have no problem with it.

Bet Dollars to Donuts all these Atheists don’t turn down the day off & Holiday pay that goes with it & I’ll bet most are quick to complain & protest if their asked to work on that day.

So because atheists like having holidays we’re obligated to let the church and state mix?  We also like having a day off work to spend time with our families on Thanksgiving.  So what?

Here’s one that has 994 up, 44 down.

If they wanted to go see the play, I would let them.The freedom of speech and religion are part of our country. some people just need to understand that and get over it. You make your own decisions, not others.

Individuals have freedom of religion, the government does not.  That’s why you can go see the play at the church, believe in whatever god you wish, and the government can’t stop you.  However, this also means the government, like in the form of a public school, cannot endorse a particular religion like, say, busing kids to a church to hear a pro-Christian message during school hours.  This is what religious believers need to understand (and get over it).

And this is not even up for debate.  If this goes to trial, it will be open and shut, and the kids of Little Rock will pay for the Constitutional ignorance of its adults.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Jessica

    JT, you are forgetting that corporations are people too. Citizens United said so… /sarcasm

  • TerranRich

    Yet another comment on that site:

    //Atheists are like mentally retarded people you just have to make special accommodations for them. //

    Wow.. just… wow…

    • Andy

      Yes, we’re mentally retarded. So much so that we excel far above what they are capable of intellectually as a whole. Hell, we even scored much higher on biblical knowledge than they did! They’re just jealous of the extra chromosome pair us “retards” have! Figures this person doesn’t even know the definition of “mentally retarded”. But what do you expect from someone who blindly dismisses evidence and makes “faith based” decisions?

  • Kodie

    If they wanted to go see the play, I would let them.The freedom of speech and religion are part of our country. some people just need to understand that and get over it. You make your own decisions, not others.

    Others, being the school, are deciding for the children and the parents of those children that they are going to see a play with a religious overtone or the other choice is stay home, get left behind, while all the other kids do this thing together that the school decided to endorse. Your own decision being let the school break the law because you like to see Charlie Brown play or decide that you don’t want to be a part of the group (or still, have that decision made for you by your parents and not yourself) because the school is dragging them off to see this play they decided the kids should see.

    I hate so much when people twist things around. If the school was making all the kids go to a topless cafe for lunch instead of the cafeteria, these people would think that’s wrong of the school to do. Of course everyone would just happily not sign the permission slip and keep their kid home that day and not make a big deal out of it, right?

  • John Horstman

    One does not simply… use public school time and money for religious indoctrination and expect to not get sued.

    • Nick Johnson / Remijdio

      I see what you did there you clever bastard you. I still blame you for this and everything else though ;)
      Whenever I see state supported religious indoctrination I can’t help but wonder what these same people in the comments would say if their kids were being bussed to a mosque. They’d probably show their true “America is a Christian Nation! Wobble wobble wobble!” spirit.

      • Andy

        Then they would be “oppressed”. We all know how this merry-go-round goes.

        • RuQu

          ’round and ’round.

          That’s the joy of a dominant religion with roots in being an oppressed minority. So much of the Christian mythos is about being fed to lions or nailed to a cross. Despite 1500 years of cultural dominance in the West, they still have not adapted to not being persecuted.

          Equal support of non-Christians? Oppression!
          Slightly decreased support from a supposedly secular government that still treats them favorably and gives them $71 billion in tax exemptions and insures their right to private practice? Oppression!
          Telling them to take their kids to school on their own time? Oppression!

          Being oppressed is a core part of their beliefs, even if, like so many of their beliefs, it has no basis in reality.

  • Jasper

    Of course, if they were spending taxpayer dime on busing children to pro-Islam things, oh boy, would there be hell to pay.

  • Mike W

    “Use of the number 5 in place of a random consonant in a swear word, likely to assure Jesus that they’re still pure of heart? Check. Because it would be the inclusion of the letter “s” that would mean they had sinned, not the calling other people assholes.”

    I agree with your points in this article, but you’re overreaching with this quote. What is much more likely is that profanity is screened out in the comment section of this article. So, in order to use the word “asshole,” the commenter has to substitute some letters with numbers so it gets by the filter. You’re trying to read more into this comment than there is.

    • Amyc

      You might be right about this particular instance, but I’ve seen a lot of religious people do this in comment sections that aren’t moderated for swearing.

  • smrnda

    Lots of plays have religious content, I mean, there’s a prayer and a Christian burial in Hamlet. When you see a play with religious content in a theater, the ‘religious content’ is just a part of the characters and the setting.

    Shipping schoolchildren off to a church for any function lends a sort of tacit endorsement to the Christian religion. How would Christians be responding (as someone put it) to kids being shipped off to a mosque, or better yet, to a temple built to the glory of Baal? The fact that going to a church somehow seems neutral is a good sign of how entrenched Christian privilege is.

    • RuQu

      I think the difference is that Hamlet is not a Christian story, it is a story that includes Christians and Christian rituals.

      The Charlie Brown Christmas Special includes a section discussing how if you don’t make Jesus the center of Christmas, you are doing Christmas wrong.

      It’s the difference between having a wedding in a church in a movie, and having the characters give a long rambling monologue about how important it is to remain a virgin until your wedding night because Jesus.

  • Drew M.

    FFS, those MSNBC comments make me ill.

  • Aaron

    What the religious don’t get is that if the play they were going to see was an old Islamic classic being shown at a mosque they would have heart attacks and be screaming the First Amendment from the rooftops. It’s freedom of religion as long as it’s ours. They also think we care if they are religious. That has nothing to do with it. One is permitted to believe any stupid thing they wish. But it can’t be supported and encouraged by the government. Why is that so hard to understand? I understood this very well when I was a believer.

  • Senator Jason

    I remember my high school invited one of their star football players back to give some kind of motivational speech to the student body. It was billed as a “hometown boy makes good” type of thing … until he got up there and started telling everyone about the LORD for an hour or so. Given the social conservative leanings of our little neck of the woods, very little was said by students or faculty alike; those who did raise their concerns were met with the same calm, rational responses I see in the comments you selected above. Nothing quite gets the ire of the dominant majority like telling them that can’t play by their own special set of rules anymore. As Aaron, Jasper, and others have said, what if these children were being shipped off to an Islamic function instead? I very much doubt the same tolerance for the religious sensibilities of others would be demonstrated.

    Personally, I love the Charlie Brown Christmas Special … but I also think, as you, that it shouldn’t be part of a school function given its religious message. The immortal music of the Vince Guaraldi Trio, on the other hand … that can stay.

  • Joey K.

    The kids should have the option of whether or not to attend the play. The school needs to calculate the cost of the gas to get the bus(es) to and from the play plus the money it costs to pay the bus driver(s). Then take that total and divide it up amongst the kids that went. This way no one is forced to go to the play if they don’t want to, and the money isn’t comming out of the taxpayer’s pocket.

    • Nate Frein

      No, but class time is still being diverted. And those who wish not to go are still being forced to single themselves out.

    • RuQu

      I’ve been in similar circumstances as you describe when I was a child. It still strongly leads to that “why did you choose to stay in class when you could be watching a movie?!?!” conversation with your peers.

      This then opens the door to questions a child might not be comfortable answering, and any fallout from parents who don’t want their kid to play with an atheist. It happens.

      If you want to take your kid to church, do so on your own time. Your church can advertise all they want for the showing of christmas movies.

  • SB

    “Bet Dollars to Donuts all these Atheists don’t turn down the day off & Holiday pay that goes with it & I’ll bet most are quick to complain & protest if their asked to work on that day.”
    Bet Dollars and Donuts this individual actually thinks the baby Jesus was born on 25th December 0001.

  • Derek

    So I did not chime in the first time around, but since it is here again why not!?

    I understand your position, and that the law, in fact, favors the secularists in this case should it go to trial. That being said, I am a little surprised at the vehement outcry about this. As a majority of people in the world have been religious, it stands to reason that many pieces of performing art have religious undertones. Would there be such vocal outrage over taking a student group to see a production of Les Miserables in the same venue? There are some pretty strong religious overtones in that piece as well. I can’t even begin to imagine what your reaction might be to a trip to see Jesus Christ Superstar, or Children of Eden – never mind that both shows actually reveal god to be the human construct that he is and may inspire some pretty great discussions about the god character, morality (actual, not christian), etc.

    The performing arts are vitally important. As a performer yourself JT I know you believe that. It seems pretty fair that many community performance groups use religious buildings for rehearsals/performances regardless of show content. A group in my area called “Not Your Mom’s Musical Theatre” is based out of a local church because they cannot afford space anywhere else. It is my fear that you and many others voicing vehement displeasure here are too quick to always side with the 100% secular whenever there is a choice to make between “absolutely no religion evar!” or “insert valuable curricular experience here.” Just my two cents!

  • RuQu


    I would love to see some religious freedom and/or atheist activists from a town with a Mosque arrange for a school viewing of anything, preferably focused on Islamic history, at a Mosque during Isra and Mi’raj. This is the celebration of Muhammed’s ascent into heaven.

    The exact material shown can be negotiated with the Mosque. The children should be allowed to see it during school hours.

    Then just sit back and watch the Christian outcry.

  • Aaron

    @Derek It’s not the Christian undertones that are the problem. It’s the outright religious nature of the show and the fact that it’s specifically being done on/near Christmas. Personally, I was raised Jewish and while I don’t care what other people do, Christmas basically throws up all over everything for two months. Every TV show becomes a stupid Christmas miracle episode and my neighborhood is lit up like, well, a Christmas tree. For someone who has zero ties to the holiday it’s really annoying. (I don’t even mean this from a religious perspective. Too much of even a good thing gets tiring.) I never liked the Charlie Brown movie anyway. And for what it’s worth, before I started working for myself I always requested to work on Christmas. Nobody was at work so I got to be all by myself. I loved it.

  • Kristycat

    I think a big part of the problem is that a lot of people love “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Hell, I love it. When Linus steps into the spotlight and says his piece, I tear up, even though I’m not Christian and haven’t been for many years.

    However. That doesn’t change the fact that it is a Christian movie- not just one with Christian themes or trappings, but one that is very blatantly pro-Christian and anti-secular in ways that, say, Hamlet and Les Mis are not. I enjoy the show anyway, because I am an adult who can appreciate the fun/sweet parts without having to buy into the message. I would even be ok with watching it with my daughter, because we can then discuss the difference between what’s in the movie and what I believe. But having a school bring a kid to hear a play teach them the True Meaning of Christmas… that’s a little sketchy, guys. Seriously. Let’s not do that.