Home > Political Ranting, Religion > You Were Saying?

You Were Saying?

July 6th, 2006

Fundamentalists claim that a merger between church and state would not result in persecution of religious minorities–in fact, they often make the assertion that not merging church and state is tantamount to persecution of Christians. I’ve even heard people not of fundamentalist stripe say that certain amounts of religion in schools and other public venues is harmless.

If you agree with that to any degree, then read this. I have to admit, I read about this briefly yesterday, but dismissed it as a joke–even I didn’t think things could have gone this far.

Here’s the story: public schools in a district of Delaware have for some time included a certain amount of Christian proselytization. School board meetings, which students were often made to attend, opened with Christian prayer, as did many sports and social events at the school. Christianity was frequently discussed in some classes, to the exclusion of other religions; one teacher told students that Christianity was the “one true religion” and handed out religious pamphlets. Bible clubs were established, promoted, and given prominence; club members were allowed to jump to the head of the lines waiting for lunch. At least one school distributed bibles to students.

A Jewish family in the district indeed felt persecuted. When school religious activities would leave their children isolated, the school suggested that their children attend the Bible Club. The children were singled out by the religious activity and were bullied; the son was often called “Jew boy” by classmates, who also accused him of “killing Christ.” And at the daughter’s graduation, the Christian preacher presiding over the ceremony said a prayer that included the words, “I also pray for one specific student, that You be with her and guide her in the path that You have for her. And we ask all these things in Jesus’ name.” Complaints from the family were ignored.

In 2004, the ACLU threatened a lawsuit to stop the prayer and other religious activities in the district. The Jewish family attended a meeting where the ACLU was to speak, but by that time already was so threatened themselves that they had to ask state troopers to escort them to the meeting, which indeed turned very hostile. Hundreds attended the meeting, where the sixth-grader son of the Jewish family was heckled when he took the stage (“take your yarmulke off!”). Christian parents begged the district not to take Jesus away from their children, others read scripture. The ACLU speaker was booed, and one former school board member even suggested that the mother of the family might meet the same end as an atheist who won a Supreme Court case against organized school prayer–who was later murdered and found dismembered. In the days after the meeting, radio callers suggested the family convert or move, and the family was called and harassed, one caller suggesting that the Ku Klux Klan would be involved.

Then, in the new tradition of the right-wing blogosphere, a web site called “Stop the ACLU” published the home address of the Jewish family, in a new practice the site called “Expose the Plaintiffs.” Even aside from the fact that the family was not being represented directly by the ACLU, such a publication of the family’s address sends a clear and unmistakable signal: go get them. Harass them. Make their life hell. And if they should suffer from violence or arson, well, we didn’t promote that–we just published their address on a web site frequented by extremists, that’s all.

The family has since been forced to move, and the web site that published their address say that they are “pleased” they “had an effect in this case.”

So to those who would suggest that religion in public schools is harmless, I would only respond with: “… You were saying?”

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  1. Tim Kane
    July 6th, 2006 at 23:39 | #1

    The real cultural war is really, and should be painted as thus: a war on the freedom of conscience.

    The constitution guarantees this.

    One cannot be truly religious if they don’t have a free conscience. The creator gave us free will, presumably, in part, for this purpose, how is it that man, in the creator’s name would purport to undo free will and free conscience?

    In the end, this is all part of the Neocon plot.

    Nothing significant happens in this country without big money behind it. For decades religious fundementalism languished on the side lines and margins of American society – until the Neocons agressively began to underwrite it as a means to achieve their political and economic agendas. It has pain of in a huge bananza for them, manifested in control of all branches of government and the fourth estate. The only thing left to do is to consolidate power by further penetration of religious fundementalism.

    I point you to the “Religion and Democracy Institute” which is funded by Neocon elites, Such as Ahmenson Family, Adolph Coors Family, The Olin Foundation, The Schaife Family just to name a few (they have a web site, check the board members). It’s purpose is to take over mainline protestant religions with right wing ideologues. The odd thing is that it has Catholics on its board and in its management, so you have right wing conservative catholics actively trying to influence protestant religion.

    Democrats need to paint the Republicans and the Religious right into a corner by reframing the culture wars as an assault on freedom of conscience.

    If you want the freedom of conscience, then you shouldn’t vote for Republicans. That sounds like a winning position in my mind.

    The republicans seek to end freedom of conscience, by hook or by crook, as a means to creating their Neoconservative Dream state of a world. Which would look an like a cross between Franco’s Spain, Mexicio’s economy and Hitler’s Germany.

  2. Manok
    July 7th, 2006 at 02:19 | #2

    I’ve never understood this “the Jews killed Christ” thing. (Didn’t the Nazi’s said that too?) Jesus was one himself, and Christianity is a re-interpretation or else a moderated view of the Jewish religion.

    Secondly, didn’t the Romans actually do the killing?

    Thirdly, is the Christian believe not based upon the fact that Jesus resurected, so he did NOT die?

  3. Luis
    July 7th, 2006 at 03:55 | #3

    I’m pretty far from being an expert on this, but here’s what I gather: Jesus was seen as a destabilizing force to both the Romans and the Jewish authorities. Judas leads the Jewish guards to the garden at Gethsemane where Judas identifies Jesus to the guards with a kiss. The guards arrest Jesus, who had stayed of his own will in the garden, knowing the guards would come. Jesus is taken to the temple and Caiaphas, the head priest, questions him, and accuses him of blasphemy. Caiaphas hands Jesus over to Pilate, and you know the rest. So the story is that the Jews were the ones who arrested Jesus and handed him over to the Romans to execute. One of the major controversies over Gibson’s Passion was how he portrayed Caiaphas and the Jews as being bloodthirsty, chanting “Crucify him!” while Pilate was a sympathetic and reluctant executioner.

    In any case, while the Romans did the actual killing, the Jews were seen as equally or initially responsible, perhaps even using the Romans as a tool to kill Jesus, as their own beliefs at the time (as I understand it) did not allow for capital punishment.

    As for Jesus being a Jew, that doesn’t seem to matter; there is clearly a schism. Even though Christianity originated in Judaism, Christians see Jews as having lost the true way.

    As for Christ being resurrected, I don’t think this is seen as a saving grace for the Jews in the story; they are seen as wanting Christ dead, and sending him to his death; intent is what counts. Kind of like, you steal $100 from someone; then the $100, by some miracle, leaves your pocket and goes back to the owner; you are not absolved because of the result.

    This all, of course, is up to a great deal of interpretation and re-reading. Some totally fault the Romans, others the Jews, others still fault both to varying degrees. Some see it all as God’s will and the Jews and Romans were only playing out their predestined parts (after all, if the Jews hadn’t handed Christ over, then he wouldn’t have died for everyone’s sins, right?). Others see it as reflective only on the individuals and not the religions or races. Others fault but forgive. And so on.

    The point you are trying to reach for, though, I believe, is rather why people accuse Jews in this way. I would think that it is a case of people wanting to hate Jews, and this is a rather handy justification and excuse for doing so, if you read your hatred into the story.

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