Quotes I live by:

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity"~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King

"Not to know is bad. Not to want to know is worse. Not to hope is unthinkable. Not to care is unforgivable"~Nigerian saying

"I don't want you to do it because you're weak, I want you to do it because you know I'm right"~Dabney Coleman as Mark Winslow in the film Modern Problems

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Atheist Response to Giles County Schools' 10 Commandments Brouhaha

Over the last couple of months, the public school system of Giles County, which neighbors mine, has been in the news for it's defiant, unconstitutional posting of the Christian "10 Commandments" on the walls inside all of it's school buildings. The latest development is that they've voted to remove them again at a meeting yesterday morning, a month after they voted to hang them back up during an evening meeting on January 20th that was mobbed by pissed off parents, preachers, and the rest of their "Christian community." That spectacle followed the decision in December to remove the 10 Commandments (which had been up for 10 years), following a parent complaint and the advice of the school district's attorney. 

The latest article,"Giles County School Board: Remove Ten Commandments displays" from the local paper, the Roanoke Times, has links to its earlier articles on this saga, if anyone wants to catch up. Dan Casey, one of the paper's featured columnists, also invited whadda-ya-think responses on his blog, "The Giles County School Board caves on the Ten Commandments thread," so I started to post my take, but realized it would probably be way too long and possibly inflammatory (naw!) for some folks, so I'm posting it here with a link in his comment thread for anyone choosing to follow it.

For those already familiar enough with the situation, or are just too lazy to go to Dan Casey's blog, here's what prompted my wanting to jump in: there were actually more reasonable people commenting here than on other Roanoke Times threads about this subject, but there's always at least one persistent right-wingnut, tossing out insults and dancing to the beat of her own bible-thumping. This one goes by the name "Suzie," and after several uses of the term "atheist kooks" and BS about the fer'ners swoopin' in to attack the god a'ferin' folk of Giles, accusing the ACLU of bribing the local plaintiffs to bring suit, she answers another commenter with this --

"Question: 'What qualifies someone as an ‘atheist kook’ in your book?'
Oh, that’s an easy one, Warlock. Atheist kooks are the Christianity police who have radio shows begging for plaintiffs to come forth because some rural school 1000 miles away is posting ten proven rules of virtuous living that have been around for thousands of years. Then when a few weeks go by without results, they locate a couple of folks who might be amenable to litigation as long as the price is right."
Comment by Suzie — February 22, 2011 @ 11:32 pm

Now, I'd been following this story, and her claim was so easy to disprove, using articles from just a few weeks ago on this very same site. So I began with links and quotes from two previous articles, and then I got on a roll about her slams against atheists. But as it wound up being so long, and was really a cumulative reaction to many similarly ignorant and intolerant comments from others on different threads, I decided not to clutter up Dan's page, but instead post here, and possibly link to or quote from it in other places, for the truly brave/patient/bored to read at their leisure. So here goes --

The first four "commandments" are purely religious and have nothing to do with secular morality, or "rules of virtuous living." In fact, the second one prohibits art classes, as well as Jeebus paintings on black velvet: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."

Suzie, as for your claim that the issue is being instigated from others 1,000 miles away, you're wrong on that, but religious "kooks" don't pay attention to facts that contradict their delusions of persecution. Two earlier articles from this same publication detail that local parents with kids in Giles County PUBLIC Schools made the initial complaints, including contacting FFRF and the ACLU:

"Giles schools give God space; will return Ten Commandments display to buildings"--

"Attorney Patrick Elliott of the Freedom from Religion Foundation in Wisconsin told the district a resident had notified the foundation about the commandments on display at Macy McClaugherty Elementary/Middle School in Pearisburg. Elliott cited a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, the 1980 Stone v. Graham Supreme Court ruling and other cases.

Stone v. Graham ruled unconstitutional a Kentucky statute that required public school classrooms to display the commandments. And the Establishment Clause states, 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.' "

"A recent complaint about the Ten Commandments hung in Giles County's public schools wasn't the district's first. Sarah McNair, a 2004 graduate of Giles High School, wrote letters of complaint about the Ten Commandments on her high school's wall in January 2004. She sent the letters to state Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, Del. Jim Shuler, D-Blacksburg, and Gov. Mark Warner. The officials forwarded the letters to the Virginia Department of Education. McNair wrote that students' rights were violated and that it was a 'serious issue that cannot be ignored.'

Both Virginia's secretary of education and the superintendent of public instruction responded, and dismissed her concerns. The state leaders said they spoke with Robert McCracken, Giles County's superintendent at the time. He couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

The new kid in school, McNair eventually found her group of friends -- a small cast of 'outsiders,' she said, some not particularly religious. She noted how some students bullied her group, and when an art poster she had drawn depicting gay, lesbian and straight couples was defaced, she wrote to the representatives. 'I really strongly wanted to make the school religiously neutral, so the school would speak out for all its students, not just religious students,' she said Thursday. 'The more religious documents posted around, it sort of made it OK for bulliers to do that to nonreligious students,' she said."

Just like the adult bullies that showed up at that January School Board meeting. Yeah, those kids are learning "community values" alright, that "might makes right."

(Warning: major run-on sentence ahead)

And Suzie, as far as calling atheists "kooks," we're not the ones who believe in a magic sky fairy-man, who is perfect and created everything just as he wanted, but is so passive-aggressive he made people flawed on purpose, so after getting mad and drowning everyone (including infants and animals, who hadn't done a "damn" thing -- pun intended), in addition to wiping out towns and other semitic tribes he urges to be massacred (when he's not blowing them up himself, and I don't think the babies of Sodom and Gomorrah wanted to rape those angels), he impregnates a little girl so she can have his son whose only purpose is to die an agonizing death to save us from the hell he made, even though god created us to fail in the first place -- because he's all powerful.

But this sin-forgiving only works if we drink his blood and eat his flesh, and kill other people who don't convert, or even kill other Christians for practicing the wrong TYPE of Christianity. Oh, and after we've committed genocide against the Native Americans who used to reside here and practiced their own non-Christian religion in what is now Giles County. Yeah, real nice values ya got there!

Oops, I almost forgot about this pissy god's low self-esteem, needing to prove that Job would still love him after killing his whole family and ruining his life (goaded on by the devil, also created by god), like an insecure, jealous lover or overbearing mother. Then he pulled a lesser version of that stunt by playing head games with Abraham -- "Kill your son -- just kidding, psych! Just slaughter that poor ram over there minding his own business instead, because I'm going to demand blood sacrifices until I tell your descendants to kill my only son so they can yammer on about being 'washed in the blood' and worship the instrument of his death. Oh, and mutilate your penis to prove you love me."

The public schools are no place to promote your sadomasochistic, zombie-worshipping, cannibalistic necrophilia. Save it for a George A. Romero movie.


Anonymous said...

I was one of those bullies, we were nothing compaired to what you and your bunch of Bullies have done. But it is not over yet

Anonymous said...

As a teacher I am charged with creating an environment where ALL students are able to learn. That means ensuring that everyone feels safe to participate in every activity. From learing how to read to walking to the lunch room.

As an example if I have a Jehovah Witness in my room we don't sing happy birthday to him, but I do sing happy birthday to other students. I simply respect his right to not participate, as he must respect the rights of his peers to celebrate. I don't remove all birthday celebrations. If other students notice he doesn't sing he isn't singled out. This is because I have created an environment where all paths to enlightenment are honored, and all students are safe.

It is not the presence of the Ten Commandments that causes the problem here; it is the failure of the staff and administration to protect their students and create a safe learning environment. The fighting and polarization of this issue isn't helping the kids it is simply giving both side a pulpit to scream and throw stones from.


Rob said...

Big man there, "Anonymous".

And why are people who post hateful comments always such bad spellers?

Rob said...

Hi, Jake. The problem is that the administration posting the 10 Commandments *is* the problem. That is what sends the message of intolerance and exclusion. If a student wants to wear a 10 Commandments T-shirt or even a stone tablet around his neck, more power to him. However, if the representatives of the state present the Judeo-Christian tradition as being somehow privileged, that sends the message to the children of that school that if they ever want to feel a part of this nation, they better get with the program and convert (or at least pretend to).

petite antonella said...

schools ought to be a neutral ground for students and religious blah blah should be taken down.

Dorothy said...

Dear Christians: Think of it this way, how would you feel if the administrators in your child's school posted the pillars of Islam framed on the wall? You would be outraged. I can almost guarantee that you would consider it a direct assault on your religious values. Please consider that Giles county PUBLIC schools are not educational institutions that include exclusively Christian students. Not only are there atheists, but there are also individuals who follow OTHER religions. Public schools are not the place to prominently display Christian messages. These schools are publicly funded by not only local monies, but also federal monies... MY tax dollars. I do not wish for MY tax dollars to support Christian-based institutions. I understand that the ten commandments are important to you, so please freely display them in your own home, in your own front yard, and certainly in your own church. However, kindly refrain from forcing your values into publicly funded institutions. Personally, I find your religion to be absurd, contradictory, and hypocritical. Publicly funded institutions should not practice exclusionary behaviors, nor should we be teaching children such behavior.

Thank you,
Your non-christian fellow American citizen