High school student who sued Rankin reveals herself.

The high school student who brought a suit against Rankin High School to stop mandatory religious assemblies put on by a local church (Mississippi, what can you do?) has abandoned her anonymity in an essay for the American Humanist.  In a twist, she is a Christian (her co-plaintiff is an atheist).  Like I’ve always said, the first amendment is what guarantees Christians the right to worship freely.  If anybody should be behind it, it’s them.

This paragraph says it all very well:

I take issue with the fact that my peers and I were forced to attend a preferential religious sermon by a public school administration. The government, and Northwest is indeed a government for all intents and purposes, has no place in dictating the religion of the governed. May I remind the public of the first right listed in our Bill of Rights, established in order to protect the people from overbearing regimes: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Good for her.

  • Glodson

    And she’s entirely right. She should be free to worship how, where, and when she sees fit. This should not be a part of her school life. Her religion is just that, hers. While I would like to see her stop, it is her right.

    And it is her right to not have her religion dictated to her by the state via a school assembly. This protection, the Establishment Clause, is for the sake of all of us. She understands this. There’s other religious people who get it too. Hell, the very idea of the “Wall of Separation of Church and State” in the US comes from Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island. And he was quite religious, and a theologian.

    He saw forced religion as something bad. Even if it was his religion. If one removes the component of choice from the people, we might go through the motions, but we won’t care.

    • http://geekinthebreeze.wordpress.com mythbri

      Here’s the thing, though – I can see why a lot of religious people (Christians in particular, since they are the majority in the U.S.) don’t see government-supported religion as a problem – as long as it’s their religion, of course.

      But religion removes all kinds of choices from its adherents. They see this as right and good and proper – it is right that their choices should be taken from them, because they are sinful and imperfect and will obviously make the wrong choices.

      If their religion removes so many choices from them, then what’s the difference if the government removes their religious choices from them? As long as it’s the “right” religion, most of them don’t see it that way.

      This young woman is clearly an exception, and I hope that she doesn’t receive a lot of hate for it the way that others have.

      • Glodson

        Oh, I agree. They don’t see the problem because they think it will be their religion forced onto others. They believe the magic words and either believe you will too if you just hear them right, or think that the effort of speaking their magic words is what god wants. Failure doesn’t matter, as our rejection is just another piece of evidence of their righteousness. Convert, they are doing god’s work. Don’t convert, they are risking persecution(somehow) for their god.

        And we know the right religion is defined as the religion that particular person has.

        • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

          As a Christian existentialist of sorts and an inclusivist, I do not believe that believing the “magic words” will save you. Even Christian literalists have to cognitive dissonance their way to magical saving belief, given the counsel of the book of James (“even the demons believe,” etc.). Not saying it isn’t common, though.

          • Rain

            So the “magic words” bit is only half of the equation instead of all of it. You have to do the “works” as well as the “magic words” routine. Whoopy-do, it’s still half of the equation. Who cares what James says anyway. He pretends to be a pretend-authority about invisible boogyman stuff that he can’t possibly have any idea about, and calls people “foolish” for idiotic invisible boogyman reasons. How dare you speak of cognitive dissonance. Just kidding, I have no clue what you are on about. :D Could be anything.

          • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

            So the majority of my point was specifically about literalists, not about my own beliefs. As for me, as I said, I am a Christian existentialist and inclusivist. I believe very strongly that a lot of the current atheistic movement bears elements of ethical truth and that this is more important than having all the right propositions.

          • Rain

            Well it’s good you have the right religion of invisible stuff that other people made up and none of you have any way of knowing if any of it is true or not, so if they claim something about it then that means they are lying or deluded, or taking the second hand word of lying or deluded people for granted. Good for you.

          • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

            Sorry, I wasn’t aware that I had to provide extensive citations and support in order to have a conversation. Do you prefer your friends use any particular citation style? I’m flexible, though I prefer Turabian/Chicago.

            You may drive away people with a dismissive and pompous attitude, but at least you’ll have academic support for everything anyone ever says to you!

          • Compuholic

            You may drive away people with a dismissive and pompous attitude, but at least you’ll have academic support for everything anyone ever says to you!

            Well you only drive away those people who are not interested in truth. And while you certainly don’t need to have citations to have a conversation, you will most certainly need some sort of evidence to be taken seriously.

          • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

            My only intention at the outset was to point out that many Christians do not believe in a “magic words”-style salvation. It wasn’t my intention to get into a debate over whether or not I or anyone else had any justification for believing such things. I’m not trying to convince you that I’m right. I provided the names of some general schools of thought to which I ascribe just to point out that there are well-established positions that contradict the narrative of the original post. Sorry for trying to contribute to the conversation; I can see this is more for patting each other on the back than it is for anything else.

          • Compuholic

            to point out that many Christians do not believe in a “magic words”-style salvation

            Well, lots of them do. So what does that tell us? You are saying that your beliefs are different. Congratulations, but who cares? Pick two christian sects at random and they are going to differ widely on central tenets of faith. So you will always find some version of christianity who does not believe in a certain proposition. There is nothing what makes your beliefs more trustworthy than the beliefs of all the other christian sects.

            It wasn’t my intention to get into a debate over whether or not I or anyone else had any justification for believing such things

            That may not have been your intention but this is what it sooner or later will come down to because that is the only interesting question.

          • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

            Look, I was just addressing that guy’s point. If I’m not allowed to do that without facing a myriad of unrelated criticisms, then what good is a comments section?

            I agree that finding the truth is the most important venture for anyone. I enjoy doing that with atheists quite frequently, because atheists have no obligation to support any given beliefs, and therefore they’re wonderful critics — as long as they are respectful and kind.

            Comments sections are good for subtopics like the one I was responding to. They’re not so good for hashing out the entirety of one’s belief systems and their justifications. If you want a deeper discussion of a specific issue, you can scroll back through my own blog (linked in my profile) to see if there’s a topic you want to discuss. I’d be happy to do so as long as your comments aren’t tangential like they are here.

          • Compuholic

            Look, I was just addressing that guy’s point.

            And I asked: What exactly was your point? So, your beliefs are different. Then his comment simply does not apply to you. Case closed, end of story.

            I’d be happy to do so as long as your comments aren’t tangential like they are here.

            Oh, tone trolling, very nice. That is one of the reasons I strongly dislike religious people. They care more about tone than for content. If someone is being an idiot i reserve the right to call him out as such. If an idea is stupid, I’ll say so.

          • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

            The point about “magic words” salvation was that there are many Christians to whom that doesn’t apply, and not only that, but that literalists rarely even believe that themselves. It seemed appropriate to point out what I did. I just wanted to join the conversation, not start an atheists vs. Christians war.

            And how does the word “tangential” lead you to believe I’m tone-trolling? You clearly see what you want to see. Here, I meant that your criticisms are in no way related to the subject — hence, “tangential.” Whether or not my belief system is 100% certain is not the same topic as whether Christians believe that magic words save you.

            While you mention it, though, tone matters. You should check out Daniel Fincke’s “Civility Pledge” over at Camels with Hammers, not to mention recent research indicating that tone has a direct correlation to how receptive someone will be to an idea. Hostile comments in an article are much more likely to polarize than to convince.

            Anyhow, I really don’t have anything further to debate here. My point is out there. You understand my point. There isn’t much more to be said, so just let it be. I don’t need to convince you of my worldview, and you don’t need to try to do that to me — not here.

          • Compuholic

            that there are many Christians to whom that doesn’t apply, and not only that, but that literalists rarely even believe that themselves.

            Yeah I understood that. But pretty much anything does not apply to all christians. Hey, they cannot even agree what god actually is or what characteristics he/she is supposed to have. So there this is an absolutely pointless point.

            Whether or not my belief system is 100% certain is not the same topic as whether Christians believe that magic words save you.

            And nobody asked for that. I was asking why we should care that your particular worldview differs in this point. Because as I said earlier: Everyone in christianity picks his favorite fantasy. So why is it relevant to the point that one version of christianity does not share this particular fantasy. It only makes sense when your version is somehow more likely to be true.

            While you mention it, though, tone matters. You should check out Daniel Fincke’s “Civility Pledge” over at Camels with Hammers, not to mention recent research indicating that tone has a direct correlation to how receptive someone will be to an idea.

            I read it and was not terribly impressed. It is far too close to lying. I prefer my criticism to be straight up and direct. Maybe this is a particularly german quirk but this way I actually know that the other person actually has the decency to be honest with me and doesn’t talk behind my back while pretending that everything is nice and dandy.

            Plus: I wasn’t even remotely rude. You were the one who first took this to a personal level by accusing me of being uncivilized.

            I don’t need to convince you of my worldview, and you don’t need to try to do that to me

            I never did. I just asked why your initial statement had any relevance.

          • Glodson

            So your basic point in posting in reply to me was “Well I’m different!”

            Good for you. Don’t care.

          • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

            My point was that it was an unfair generalization that creates a fictional narrative as to why you should look down on the religious. There are many problems in the religious world, and this is one of them, but it is not a universalizable statement like you were using it.

          • Glodson

            Look, we can’t make a general statement about all of Christianity because it isn’t monolithic.

            We know that. You know that. Everyone knows that. So your comments are pointless derision for the sake of saying “hey, look, I’m different!”

            If you aren’t trying to force prayer in school, then obviously we aren’t talking about you. There are those that want to force and, and believe this will spread the love of Jesus. Obviously we are talking about them.

            It isn’t unfair as we aren’t talking about the set of all Christians. The only general thing I can say about all Christians is that they believe in Christ.

            After that, any statement anyone makes about Christianity won’t include all members of the set as there’s a wide fluctuation of belief.

            Reading the comments that sparked this, you’ll note that I even pointed out that the entire idea of the Wall of Separation can be said to have origins with a religious person. I noted that the young woman didn’t want to force these prayers onto others.

            So, some must believe that it isn’t just getting people to recite prayers, or force people to hear about the Jesus that will do the magic.

            This conversation has nothing to do with you or your beliefs as they don’t seem to be shared by people who want to force prayer into school.

            Is that clear enough?

          • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

            That’s fine. I certainly didn’t intend for my comment to be contentious. Have a good day =)

  • Art_Vandelay

    More power to her and I know I’m nit-picking here but this…

    I am not an angry atheist. As a matter of fact, I am not an atheist at all. I hold many Christian beliefs and values.

    …sigh.

    • islandbrewer

      But you know what? She’s smart enough to be able to tell what’s constitutional and what’s not. She’s smart enough to analyze this aspect of public life despite any religious beliefs or potential backlash from her community. She is the kind of christian who may someday turn her analytical skills towards her own religious beliefs.

      • Art_Vandelay

        No, I know. I agree completely. I actually think it’s more effective coming from a Christian. I just loathe the term “Christian values.”

        • Mackinz

          She probably doesn’t understand the difference between “Christian values” and “Societal/secular values”, because, if she was holding many Christian values, then she would be a fundementalist campaigning for the end of womens rights (or something…) because Christian values are pretty much the same as what one would expect in fundementalist Islam.

          • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

            This isn’t really fair. There are lots of Christian positions which take moderate and liberal positions on the Bible, and they do so with the same seriousness as fundamentalists. A lot of the abolitionists would have been “liberal Christians,” so to speak, and apparently I have heard a number of early supporters of gay rights were Quaker, though I would have to look into this.

          • Mackinz

            Actually, it is fair.

            “Christian values” are laid out in the Bible.

            Societal values are distinctly different and decided by the society, not a book, and change with the times as society changes and develops.

            “Liberal Christians” are people who have been enveloped by the values of their society, ignoring what most of their holy text to claim to believe in that God, to spread his word, and be a “good” person who doesn’t do slavery, discrimination, etc.

            The U.S. Constitution, for example, establishes the basics of our society. If you actually compare the Constitution with the Bible, you would find that the Constitution goes against what the Bible says. It is practically impossible to be a person who actually follows the Bible, someone who espouses “Christian values” as they are laid out, and believe in the values set forth in the Constitution.

            The only way to do so is to cherry-pick your beliefs, to combine the irreconcilable opposites in attempt to justify both. And I believe that can be called cognitive dissonance, but I may be wrong on that.

            A “liberal Christian” may be a good person. I have nothing against them, as long as they aren’t assholes that force their religion on others and justify it because the Bible says so, but the values they preach or practice are not Christian no matter how much they claim to be. They are a perversion of Christian beliefs, to reconcile Christianity and the belief in Christ with a society that is not Christian, that changes with time, and values equality over all else.

          • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

            The church has a much longer history than 20th century protestant fundamentalism, and so it is not fair to say that Biblical literalists and infallibilists are the “true Christians” whereas all the others are not. You’re just playing into the hands of the historically ignorant fundamentalists/evangelicals if you buy that line, and — no matter what you think about religion in general — you will only delay the social change you desire if you marginalize liberal Christians who fight for the same causes.

    • invivoMark

      To be fair, I wouldn’t have gotten that in high school, either.

      Give it time. In a couple years she’ll be in college and able to think on her own.

      • Art_Vandelay

        Yes, that’s very true as well.


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