We hear constantly of this imagined war on Christmas and by extension, on Christianity, how Christians are so persecuted in this country for their beliefs. Yet it isn’t Christians who are being told by teachers that they’re stupid or that if they don’t like evolution they should become atheists. No, that is what Christians are doing to non-Christians. Which is no surprise really, since however enlightened some Christians might be today, Christianity has a 2,000 year-old history of this type of behavior.
At Negreet High School in Sabine Parish, Louisiana, teacher Rita Roark told class of sixth graders that God made the universe 6,000 years ago, that evolution is impossible, and that the Bible is “100 percent true.” Obviously, none of those kids are going to grow up to become astrophysicists without some deprogramming.
Her logic was that, “if evolution was real, it would still be happening: Apes would be turning into humans today.”
Apparently, Roark learned logic atthe same school as Ted Nugent.
One test question stated, “ISN’T IT AMAZING WHAT THE _____________ HAS MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Students were expected to fill in the blank – with “Lord.” I mean, who else in Louisiana, home of the Duck Dynasty?
One student, however, who is of Thai descent and who happens to be a Buddhist, declined to play that game and wrote in something else – “Lord Buddha.” Roark chose to respond by publicly humiliating him in front of the class, saying “Yes! That is right! I had a student miss that on his test.”
I don’t remember that happening when I got a math question wrong. Or science. I don’t remember my teachers feeling the need to have the whole class laugh at me.
But this isn’t science or math. This is religion. Religion is being taught in our public schools. I thought it was bad enough when my son’s own school snuck in “God Bless America” at a Broadway musical show put on by the students by appealing to its status as a song from a Broadway play.
But this is beyond the pale. And it gets worse.
When told that the student was Buddhist and did not believe in God, Roark’s response was an outraged, “you’re stupid if you don’t believe in God.” Sounding more like Nugent with every utterance, she also said Buddhism was itself “stupid.”
When his parents complained to Sabine Parish Superintendent Sara Ebarb, Ebarb unhelpfully advised them that “this is the Bible belt” and that they have to expect to “see God here.” Her solution was that the student change his religion.
Or move to another school district where “there are more Asians.” This is the option the family eventually took, moving their son to a school 25 miles away.
The ACLU has taken this case and filed suit. Both the Department of Education and the Department of Justice are investigating. But however it turns out, this is just one more example of how whatever the Religious Right says, the opposite is true. And however it turns out, the way in which it will be presented by the right wing media and by the Republican Party and Religious Right is that a Christian teacher is being persecuted for standing up for her beliefs. Fox News so far has brushed over the incident, without providing a link to the ACLU suit in question, or providing the ugly specifics in the case.
No mention will be made that the Constitution is being violated, and, in fact, they will; continue to pretend to be protecting the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Because there is no crime for those who have Christ. It was that way in the fifth century when the Egyptian monk Shenoute burned his Pagan neighbors house, and it is that way today in America, where laws are being formulated to forgive any crime on account of religious belief.
It is not Christians being persecuted in the United States, but non-Christians: atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Pagans – anyone who declines to accept the “Lord Jesus Christ.”
At least the Lord Jesus Christ the Religious Right insists upon. You can bet your bottom dollar Jesus himself would be driven out of these schools if he showed up today. After all, as Ann Coulter said on the Donny Deutsch show, “We just want Jews to be perfected” and the big strike against Jesus of Nazareth in Evangelical eyes is that the poor guy – well, besides being poor and unemployed and an immigrant (Nothing good comes out of Galilee) – was an unperfected Jew.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.