Disclaimer: I write this not as an "anti-Christian leftist," but as a regular church-goer who has become increasingly dismayed with the modern church. This is not based on any scientific test or hard data, but strictly on my own observations. I make no apologies for the opinions expressed herein.
On the day after Christmas, my wife and I will have been married fifteen years. For many of those years, we have been regular church attendees. In fact, ten of those fifteen years were spent attending a single church. That all changed earlier this year. Since April, we have been searching for another church. We thought we may have found one in which we could feel comfortable, but that changed this morning. Like before, one of the main factors driving us away has been public education.
I've written before of my frustration with the church regarding public education and the misleading rhetoric used to support its positions. Well, that was well over a year ago and unfortunately nothing seems to have changed. It turns out the new church really isn't any different.
Our old church insisted on at least three occasions that it was illegal for students to pray or read the Bible in school, claiming that they could be arrested for doing so. As I said in the previous diary, that simply is not true. So it was extremely disappointing to hear what took place today.
My wife went to church by herself this morning as I stayed home with the boys after a late night of traveling. Afterwards she related a disturbing story that the minister had told during his sermon. Unsurprisingly, I was able to find the exact story on the internets. It goes like this:
A young woman teacher with obvious liberal tendencies explains to her class of small children that she is an atheist. She asks her class if they are atheists too. Not really knowing what atheism is but wanting to be like their teacher, their hands explode into the air like fleshy fireworks.
There is, however, one exception. A beautiful girl named Lucy has not gone along with the crowd. The teacher asks her why she has decided to be different.
"Because, I'm not an atheist."
Then, asks the teacher, "What are you?"
"I'm a Christian."
The teacher is a little perturbed now, her face slightly red. She asks Lucy why she is a Christian.
"Well, I was brought up knowing and loving Jesus. My mom is a Christian, and my dad is a Christian, so I am a Christian."
The teacher is now angry. "That's no reason," she says loudly.
"What if your mom was an idiot and your dad was an idiot. What would you be then?"
Lucy paused, smiled and said, "Then, I'd be an atheist!"
Where to start? My wife and I are both public school teachers and to say that this pissed us off would be an understatement. With a combined thirty years experience in the public schools including large, inner-city schools and small rural schools, neither one of us has ever met a teacher who would behave this way. This is nothing more than a strawman put up to be knocked down in a display of Christian superiority. It's the most absurd caricature of what the religious xenophobes believe the "anti-Christian" education system to be. And what's worse is that he has used this absurd story as a brush to paint every public school teacher as an out-of-control atheist bent on destroying the very fabric of Christianity.
To begin with, any teacher with "liberal tendencies" would be far more accepting of a student with a differing viewpoint. As we all know, liberals, much like Jesus himself, are tolerant of others. Second of all, teachers are trained professional and they understand the necessity of the separation between church and state. If it weren't for that separation, everyone, atheists and Christians alike, would be free to impose whatever religious beliefs they hold upon their captive young ones. And third, is it really in the Christian tradition to call someone who holds a differing opinion an "idiot?" I do believe that it would prove difficult to convert anyone to the faith if the church spent its time calling names and making insults.
But ultimately, this unrealistic story is only the beginning of the problem with today's sermon. Soon after the minister commented on the fact that many of our once respected professions no longer receive the respect they once did. Apparently, he doesn't see the irony in this statement having just disrespected the entire teaching profession. And this finally brings me to the point of this diary: The modern church has played a role in the decline of our public education system in this country.
With rhetoric like the aforementioned story, the church has painted public education as the enemy of Christianity. And what church-going non-teacher isn't going to believe their minister in this regard? After all, why would he lie to them? He's a man of God, right? So consequently, the congregation leaves with a bad image of public school teachers and dutifully relays that image to their family, friends, and coworkers furthering the false image and thereby causing others to lose respect the teaching profession. This lack of respect leads to a feeling of distrust and suspicion which then leads to a gradual erosion of the role public education and educators can play in the life of our children. It causes parents, community members, and, ultimately, lawmakers to desire more control over the system and to wrest the power from those most qualified to teach.
Now I'm certainly not proposing that the church is solely responsible for the current state of education or the debacle that is No Child Left Behind, but they have played their role in sowing the mistrust that has led to such ridiculous legislation. Unless acceptance, tolerance, educated opinion and the need to question is somehow viewed as threatening, education is not the enemy to Christianity, but the key to a successful future. You would think they would want to work together.
As I said in the opening, this is not written from an anti-Christian viewpoint, but from the viewpoint of someone who is becoming increasingly dismayed with the modern church. I hope I haven't offended anyone as that was not my intention. But once again, I make no apologies for my opinions. I'm simply trying to call it as I see it.
Thanks for reading.