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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.

Originally posted to kissfan on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 10:06 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  We are heading for a theocracy..... (12+ / 0-)

      ....pure and simple. The wall between church and state has been breached and a few progressives and liberals are holding their fingers in the dike. I fear for our public schools. I also fear for our churches, which have become so politicized and have drifted away from religion's message of love and understanding.

      These people are killing both religion AND public school with the same arrow.

      "I am my brother's keeper. I am a Democrat." -- That's your slogan, Democrats.

      by Bensdad on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 10:38:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are right on (8+ / 0-)

        several fronts. One thing progressives should do is to begin to challenge the notion that these people are religious or that they represent a real religion. Their behavior and their viewpoints are entirely opposed to and incommensurate with the Christian faith, and we should stop allowing them to masquerade under that name. They are "church gangs" -- not Christians.

        I do not have any need to profess my own faith publicly, and I don't think anyone should have to. Faith is a private matter. But I do feel strongly about allowing these people to continue to use the name of one of the world's great religions in vain. We can't stop them from using it, but we do have the right to challenge the validity of their claim to be Christians.

        (-,-) "Just because an idea appeals to a lot of people doesn't mean it's wrong. But that's a good working theory. " John Tierney

        by phaktor on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 10:54:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What pisses me off most about these theocrats (6+ / 0-)

          is that they start out with a free pass, he/she is a person of faith and therefore a 'good person' that should be respected.

          Like the founders of the Christian faith, they were just men (back then, this was so),  aand a lot of the rules they made up seem to me to be self serving of the priesthood, e.g. administering sacraments.

          I too was raised a Christian, but I got over the religious tenets.  I believe that JC came to Earth, said and did a lot of things, and the point of all this was missed spectacularly.  

          Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else. --Will Rogers

          by groggy on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 11:25:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No one should ever be assumed (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kissfan, groggy, HoosierDeb

            to be of good character until they've proven themselves via good works, showing compassion and love.  You can tell a lot about someone by something as small as how they interact with the cashier at the corner store, or if they hold the door for the people behind them, how they treat their children or neighbors, or when it comes to politics, whether their professed religious beliefs match their actions.  

            If you claim to be Christian yet look about eagerly to pitch a stone at someone who takes a path diverging from your own, then your character is weak, and you're not worthy of the "Christian" label.  

            "No man should advocate a course in private that he's ashamed to admit in public." -George McGovern

            by Arturo52 on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 03:39:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Hey Phaktor, you are so right... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          EJP in Maine, HoosierDeb

          I like that "church gangs" that is so today the mentality of their movement and they just use Jesus' name!

    •  As a person who just happens to be (13+ / 0-)

      atheist, and who will never evangelize you one way or another, please accept my best wishes for you and your family this season.  Warmest regards, Doc.

      Sometimes I feel like Robert Louis Stevenson created me.

      by Translator on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 10:40:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  OT, I like your UID (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      reminded me of  Willow (graffiti says "Kiss Rocks")

      SNYDER: Good. It seems we had some vandalism Friday on school property, and I was just looking for some... volunteers to help clean it up.

      WILLOW: 'Kiss rocks'? Why would anyone want to kiss... Oh, wait. I get it.

      "The road to gas chambers starts when good people find excuses to justify torture and murder. Feinstein and Schumer are enablers."- Larry Johnson -8.25, -6.21

      by Jacques on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 07:01:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  They Hate Public School Because There's No Prayer (14+ / 0-)

    A couple of days ago there was a letter to the editor in my local paper by a "Christian" that started off proclaiming their tolerance of others, then proceeded to declare that 'the  big-mouths who don't recognize that this is a Christian nation should find some other country to live in!' She then posted an all-too familiar list of grievances which over the years' of observing I think boil down to, first This is a Christian nation, our nation, and you'd better acknowledge our supremacy, and do things our way if you want to live hear, heathen!, second, we reserve the right to discriminate based on our beliefs, and third, we should be able to use public resources to help indoctrinate the public into our beliefs. That's the one that includes teacher-lead prayer and using school and government facilities for Bible study groups and prayer meetings.

    Most of the claims of discrimination against Christian "rights" in the U.S. seem to fit into one of these categories. They really don't seem to want genuine tolerance or to accept that they must share the public domain.

  •  Joklone, my neologism of the day (13+ / 0-)

    Unsurprisingly, I was able to find the exact story on the internets.

    Wow, did the minister actually tell this as if he expected people to believe it was a true story? As if he believed it was a true story?

    This is a joke, and in fact it's a madlib-joke into which one can put different groups. Linguists call a template like this a "snowclone", after the perennially popular "Eskimo's have over 33 words for snow." ("X's have over Y words for Z.")

    I've been annoyed by jokes like this for some time, where people just change the names (to protect deprecate the innocent), and I've just coined a term for them: joklones.

    The first time I heard this joke, it was Democrats and Republicans, and the southern gentleman says he's a Democrat because "my daddy was a Democrat, and my grandaddy was a Democrat, and my great-grandaddy was a Democrat."

    "Oh yeah," the reply comes, "And what if your daddy and your grandaddy and your great-grandaddy had been horse-thieves, what would you be then?"

    "Well," he says, thinking for a moment, "I reckon I'd be a Republican!"

    Here are a few I just found via Google:

    "What if your mom was a moron and your dad was a moron? What would you be then?"

    "Then", responds Lucy smiling, "I'd be a liberal."

    "What if your Mom was a moron, and your dad was a moron. What would you be then?"

    A pause, and a shy smile. "Then," said Lucy, "I’d be a liberal democrat."

    "What if your mom was a drug addict and your dad was a rapist? What would you be then?" The girl replies, "Well then I would be a Raider fan."

    "What if your Mom was a moron and your dad was a moron, what would you be then?"
    "Then," Janie smiled, "we'd be Bucs fans."

    "Well," said the teacher, in a obviously annoyed tone, "that's no reason for you to be a Bronco fan. You don't have to be just like your parents all of the time. What if your mom was a prostitute and your dad was a drug addict and a car thief, what would you be then?"

    Mary said, "I'd be a Raiders fan."

    "That is no reason for you to be a Texans fan! You don't have to be just like your parents all of the time. What if your mom was a moron and your dad was a moron, what would you be then?!" Jenny smiled and said, "Then I'd be a Dallas Cowboy fan!"

    And, last but not least, one about atheists, but from a Muslim perspective:

    The teacher is a little perturbed now, her face slightly red. She asks Zainab why she is a Muslim. "Well, I was brought up knowing and loving God. My mom is a Muslim, and my dad is a Muslim, so I am a Muslim."

    The teacher is now angry. "That's no reason," she says loudly, "what if your mom was a moron, and your dad was a moron, - what would you be then?" She paused, and smiled. "Then," says Zainab, "I'd be an atheist."

    While you're at work all week, the minister is browsing the net looking for old jokes to pad out his sermons with. Don't forget to put a donation in the offering plate. High-speed internet isn't free, you know.

    "Toute société se juge au sort qu'elle réserve aux plus démunis d'entre les siens."
       — Victor Hugo

    by dconrad on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 10:59:20 PM PST

  •  As the son of teachers... (5+ / 0-)

    ...and the brother of a teacher, I know that my parents would have been horrified at such a comment by a teacher.  Indeed, I would have reported such goings-on at the dinner table that very night.  My parents would have gone roaring to the school to complain.

    We were a church-going family.  We were in the pew every Sunday unless we were in the choir.  Going to church was not mentioned outside church.  Our only "religion" in the home was saying grace before meals and prayers before bed when we were young.

    The only time I heard religion mentioned in school was in 11th or 12th grade, when our high school choir director commented to me one day that if it were not for the local Presbyterian Church (and its cradle-to-grave choirs), he would have a hard time mounting a choral program.  About 1/3 of our high school choir were also in the Presbyterian high school age choir.

  •  Public education is not failing (5+ / 0-)

    Intelligent teachers (regardless of their religious faith, if any) are the critical difference in any classroom's success or failure. Your minister is a total ass. You might try to find a church environment that will pour less poison into the minds of your children.

    We don't need more Democrats as much as we need different Democrats.

    by RudiB on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 11:20:55 PM PST

  •  You owe it to yourself to share this diary (8+ / 0-)

    with your minister. It's pretty likely that this seed of truth will fall on rocky ground and bear nothing, but at least you will have the satisfaction of standing up for your integrity as a teacher and a human being. Do it!

    We don't need more Democrats as much as we need different Democrats.

    by RudiB on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 11:37:04 PM PST

  •  Unfortunately, there are always bad apples (0+ / 0-)

    But the public school system and teachers in general should not be vilified for the actions of a rare few.
     Here is an L.A. Times story about a student suing an atheist teacher.

    Unfortunately our politicians are either incompetent or corrupt. Sometimes both on the same day--Woody Allen

    by Libertaria on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 12:24:43 AM PST

  •  The student has the teacher on audio tape (0+ / 0-)

    And I have to admit it was not cool for the teacher to make fun of the student's Christian beliefs. Telling him to take off his "Jesus glasses" and equating Christians with Moslem fundamentalists. Not kosher.

    And unfortunately, the school system is now having to deal with a lawsuit.

    Unfortunately our politicians are either incompetent or corrupt. Sometimes both on the same day--Woody Allen

    by Libertaria on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 12:27:25 AM PST

    •  Your assuming the allegations are true. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MadRuth, gsenski

      LATimes. Corbett did not return a call for comment. Capistrano Valley High School Principal Tom Ressler described Corbett as a "solid" teacher who has been with the Capistrano Unified School District for more than 15 years. Ressler said Corbett's class was popular among Advanced Placement students and has a high pass rate.

      "It's really premature to say anything about this," he said of the allegations. "People can make allegations all they want; we have to see the reality and context of what was said."

      And the group that has taken up the lawsuit against the  teacher is anti-gay, anti-choice, and pro-creationist.  The link will take you to a list of the litigation the group is involved with.

      An evangelical youth backed by a right-wing Christian group versus a liberal teacher with a 15 year positive record - I'm glad to see the principal is sticking up for the teacher.

      And if the comparison is between Christian and Moslem fundamentalists, there are many parallels.  I'd be glad to have my daughter taught by a teacher willing to discuss them.

    •  A small child taped her teacher and was this calm (0+ / 0-)


      Not likely

      How did I live without him?

      by Pumpkinlove on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 05:58:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  People always fear... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...imagining someone with different views behave as they imagine they themselves would behave if they held those views they find abhorrent.

    So right-wingers fear GLBT people running wild committing sex crimes because the right-wingers imagine they would be compelled to commit sex crimes if they didn't have a religious force to stop them.

    And they imagine that teachers who are liberals and atheists would indoctrinate children with those beliefs because, given the opportunity, that's what the wingers would do.

    They provide a glimpse into very scary thought processes.

  •  Overblown (0+ / 0-)

    Certainly some Christians have attempted to influence school curriculum's. But to level the charge that they and their actions are a major contributor of our schools problems is hyperbolic to say the least. Coming from a family of educators there are so many issues that need addressed that make the Christian angle a non issue. Let's just look at a few:

    1. the elimination of teaching morality/morals (not just Christian but right versus wrong)

    2.) Revision of history...have you looked at the history books being taught? One paragraph about George Washington and Abe Lincoln. 2-3 pages on World War II, 2-3 pages on the Civil war no wonder our kids don't know anything
    3.) De emphasis on reading,  few classics more comic books
    4.) Teacher unions 100% resistance to accountability among their members
    5.) Teacher unions 100% resistance to accountability about their schools
    6.) Reduction or elimination of arts, crafts, recess, and phys ed  

    List goes on and on but until we have a voucher system giving all parents a choice we will never see an educational system we all can admire and respect

  •  As a parochial school teacher (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am saddened by the acts and words of those who use Jesus to beat up on people whose faith, or lack of it, differs from theirs.  I am very supportive of public education.  In my community (and state) there appears to be more cooperation and collaboration among public and private schools.  We are not in competition.  Our goal is to educate citizens of this country.  The beauty of our country and its Constitution is that people have the choice to believe or not, and to educate their kids in a place and manner that suits them.  I do appreciate the freedom I have to insist that my students act as Jesus taught.  Even if I were in a public school I would still strive to be what I believe.  That is, after all, what Jesus told us:  they will know who and what we believe by what we do, not what we say.

    Sorry I haven't expressed myself better.  I wish you didn't have to deal with things like this.  It's hard enough to do the job we do....

    "We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace." - Walter Mondale

    by luckylizard on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 05:50:56 AM PST

  •  Christmas trees at school (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kissfan, chigh

    I recently visited apublic school which had a large and prominent Christmas tree in its lobby.

    I was stunned.

    I have never seen that before.

    Made this Jewish teacher a bit uncomfortable.

    How did I live without him?

    by Pumpkinlove on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 06:00:24 AM PST

    •  A few weeks ago (0+ / 0-)

      my fifth grade son came home and commented on the Christmas tree in his school's lobby. He asked, "But what about the students who are Jewish or Muslim?"

      We were very proud. I think I heard Bill O'Reilly cringe when he asked it.

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