Thursday, September 22, 2011

Facebooking for Jesus: The New Pledge of Allegiance

I hate chain emails. I mean I really, REALLY, hate them. They usually present half-truths or outright lies as fact and then try to derive some great moral lesson from them - usually at the expense of an unpopular group. This often serves to reinforce misconceptions, promote ignorance, and encourage unreasonable intolerance and fear.

Today's offering is one you have probably seen making the rounds before.  The unspecified enemies here appear to be atheists and liberals, favorite targets of people who don't know much about our country, why it was formed, or how it works. Unfortunately, that describes many of my family and friends. Let's take a look: 

BY A 15 yr. OLD SCHOOL KID Who got an A+ for this entry Since the Pledge of Allegiance And The Lord's Prayer Are not allowed in most Public schools anymore Because the word 'God' is mentioned.....

I'm not sure which is worse - that a student could write something so stupid or that adults would pass this around as if it were true. The pledge can still be said in schools but the school can't force a student to recite it. Likewise, students may still say the Lord's Prayer during their free time at school but the school cannot make them pray it or pray it for them. God is not an evil word or a banned word at school. It is simply a subject that the school, because it is part of the government, must remain neutral on.

If your kids aren't patriotic or religious enough, then that is your fault as a parent. It is not the government's job to make your kid patriotic or religious.

A kid in Arizona wrote the attached NEW School prayer: "New Pledge of Allegiance" ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Now I sit me down in school Where praying is against the rule For this great nation under God Finds mention of Him very odd.

Once again, praying isn't "against the rule" if it's the student (or a group of students) doing it outside of instructional time. The school administration and staff are the ones that can't pray, make kids pray, or make kids listen to prayer.

As for America finding the mention of God strange, I have to wonder which America this kid lives in. America is so full of "Jesus" and "God" that you can't listen to a politician or read anything any more without someone sticking their god in it. Keep in mind that as of 2008, 76% of Americans claimed to be Christian and 9% more claimed to be theists of some other religion. That's a total of 85% of Americans who believe in at least one god and only 15% of people who don't (though, to be fair, of those 15%, some may be theists who simply have no religion). The idea that this nation is estranged from God is what's odd.

If scripture now the class recites, It violates the Bill of Rights. And anytime my head I bow Becomes a Federal matter now.

Scripture can be read in class if it's for a secular purpose. I'd argue that the Bible is an important source of literature that should be studied. I'd also argue that a comparative religion class on the high school level is a good idea. Scripture-reading only violates the Bill of Rights when the school endorses, opposes, or forces kids to do it for religious reasons. It's not a federal matter for a student to bow her head and pray quietly but it's a very big deal when the school tries to make kids bow.

Our hair can be purple, orange or green, That's no offense; it's a freedom scene.

Actually, some schools do have dress codes against clothing or styles of dress that are "disruptive."

The law is specific, the law is precise. Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice. For praying in a public hall Might offend someone with no faith at all. In silence alone we must meditate, God's name is prohibited by the state.

The problem with school prayer is not that some atheist might "be offended." It's that the government has absolutely no right to tell anyone when and how to pray. Use your imagination for just one moment and pretend that you were at a school graduation and the principal asked everyone to get on their knees and face Mecca to pray to Allah. How would you feel? You'd be furious! Or how would you feel if he was praying a Christian prayer and ended it with an appeal to Mary and the saints? Protestants would be livid! This is why the government in general and schools in particular have no business leading prayers.

We're allowed to cuss and dress like freaks, And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks. They've outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible. To quote the Good Book makes me liable.

Again, someone needs to reread the school dress codes. And the Bible hasn't been outlawed nor are students punished for quoting scripture. The real truth is that, for the most part, your kids just really don't care about religion. Most of them are too busy worrying about their friends and their lives to worry about that. You aren't going to catch too many teens going around studying their Bibles (unless it's for show). Most of them are going to be reading teen magazines and stuff that interests them. Again, the problem isn't the school - it's with the family.

We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen, And the 'unwed daddy,' our Senior King. It's 'inappropriate' to teach right from wrong, We're taught that such 'judgments' do not belong.

Schools teach right from wrong every single day. Each classroom is supposed to have a code of conduct. What schools cannot do is teach a particular religious view. That is, yet again, the family's job. What we keep coming back to is the ugly truth that way too many parents are mad because the school won't do their job for them. It is the parents' job to teach morality and instill reasonable discipline. It is the family and the church's job to teach religion. If your kid isn't getting the message, the problem is with you - not the schools.

We can get our condoms and birth controls, Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles. But the Ten Commandments are not allowed, No word of God must reach this crowd.

I wish our school had given us better sex ed and access to contraceptives. I think that would have helped a lot of our students. When I taught in the public school, it was frightening how ignorant high school students were on how sex worked and how pregnancy and STDs could be prevented.

As for the rest of this line, anthropology and cultural studies are (or should be) important parts of student education. Teaching a particular religion, however, is not. That's the family and the church's job. How many times do I need to say that before it gets through?

It's scary here I must confess, When chaos reigns the school's a mess. So, Lord, this silent plea I make: Should I be shot; My soul please take! Amen.

If school is a scary place, then perhaps we need to take a look at how school boards and administrators are hamstrung by angry parents. Too many parents send their kids to school with no home training, no sense of respect, and no desire to learn. Then when their kids get in trouble or fail to perform, these same parents will threaten the teachers with physical violence and threaten the administrators with lawsuits. You simply cannot run safe and effective schools when parents act more like thugs than their own kids do.

If you aren't ashamed to do this, Please pass this on. Jesus said, 'If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my Father.' Not ashamed. Pass this on...

And now we get to the worst of it. The same trash I see on every one of these idiotic posts: that old threat that if you don't pass this along, you aren't a good Christian and Angry Jesus will get you one day.  That is the tactic of a bully. That is the tactic of these angry parents who don't want to raise their children right and expect the state to do it for them. That's the tactic of people who want to use government power to force you to pledge, pray, kneel, bow - all on command. That's the tactic of people who claim all the rights of American society but are unwilling to accept the responsibilities that go with it.

Do I dare tell my cousin that I am indeed ashamed to pass this on because it's untrue? Or do I continue to sit in my closet with my fists tightly clenched?