Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Only in Texas: A moment of silence and under God too

Two articles out of the fundie state of Texas caught my attention today. Both demonstrate how religion creeps into our secular schools and why it is important to speak up to protect our children from unwanted religious indoctrination.

In Carrollton, Texas, David Wallace Croft (Blog) is fighting to protect his children from religion at Rosemead Elementary school. He makes frequent visits and files complaints when needed to make sure his children receive a secular education.

He complained about Boy Scout rallies held during school, fliers sent home about Good News Bible Club meetings and the inclusion of "Silent Night" and a Hanukkah song in holiday concerts.

The rallies and fliers stopped, and in some cases the songs were removed or altered, angering other parents.

Mr. Croft, 39, often stopped by the campus looking for violations. He took photos as evidence of "In God We Trust" posters hanging on the wall and complained about a teacher wearing an Abilene Christian University shirt.

Wallace is an Atheist, an "optihumanist" (I don't have any idea what that is), and a fellow libertarian. His biggest issue is the moment of silence each child must observe after the pledge of allegiance to the US Flag, and the Texas State Flag. The moment of silence was added in 2003. Wallace faces an uphill battle, the law was carefully crafted to avoid being an endorsement of prayer.

I am sure Croft is aware of the latest fundie attack on our secular schools. The Texas State pledge of allegiance was modified to include the words "One state under God" by the state legislature.  State Rep. Debbie Riddle sponsored the bill.

"Personally, I felt like the Texas pledge had a big old hole in it, and it occurred to me, 'You know what? We need to fix that,' " said Riddle, R-Tomball. "Our Texas pledge is perfectly OK like it is with the exception of acknowledging that just as we are one nation under God, we are one state under God as well."

Let's give this a little sniff test. First you say "under God" to the US Flag, and then you say "under God" to the state flag, and then you take a moment of silence to pray. It's  the triple whammy for Christians. Who do they think they are fooling?

Of course, Texas protects atheist children. All they need do is bring a note from home objecting to the pledge. They can opt out, which is the same as placing a big Atheist "A" on their foreheads. Nothing to fear here.

I like California much better thank you.


David Wallace Croft said...

Great post, thanks. You hit the nail square on the head with this:

"Of course, Texas protects atheist children. All they need do is bring a note from home objecting to the pledge. They can opt out, which is the same as placing a big Atheist "A" on their foreheads. Nothing to fear here."

Anonymous said...

I think it's great that there is the option for children to "opt out" of the pledge, but don't you think that in the same way Christians should have the option to "opt in"?

I beleive in making a choice for yourself. That is important in whatever religion or belief you practice. I am sorry if non-religious people have felt attacked, I personally would never intend to make someone feel that way. But I am glad that I as a Christian have the choice to speak up. I'm also glad you have the right not to...I think it is only fair...don't you?


Mojoey said...

Anonymous - I play poker. I love the game. When have "the nuts" it is easy to be gracious. Texas Christians have the nuts. State sponsored religious affirmations and a moment of silence. Atheists can only muck their hand. "Fair" is not part of the equation when you have an overwhelming advantage. There is nothing for you to opt into, the concept blows my mind.

Archangel said...

That sounds like a plea for affirmative action. Why is it so offensive to watch people maintain a moment of silence? The level at which certain Atheists such as yourself get affected by such simple things is quite baffling.

If we were to reverse the situation and imagine a secular classroom in which a Muslim student wants to observe a moment of silence at some given time, would it not be an imposition of the "overwhelming advantage" for that student to be denied such an opportunity?

Atheists are hardly being "persecuted" for them to be afraid of wearing their Atheism proudly. Sounds like you have a complex about being victimized.

The other issue I'd like to raise is a larger one. How do we teach moral standards to our kids without reference to some form of religion? This is theoretically possible but I'd love to know what subjects are being taught to kids in order to inculcate moral values. Or is this simply something schools shouldn’t have to deal with? Religion seems a pretty useful medium to disseminate moral standards. The religion itself may be dispensed with if the child is later convicted against it. So there is really no argument for indoctrination. Besides, an Atheist who actually knows what the Bible and Koran say and chooses to reject it is far more effective in his arguments.

Thank you for reading.

Johnny Crow said...

I grew up and went to school in Texas, Las Vegas, and in Florida. I never really knew I had a choice when I was in Texas I was so young. But even then I would just stand and be silent. Though we never had silence unless someone had died or something. Which I thought was appropriate. Btw, we never said the pledge for Texas at all when I went there. Now in Vegas, I finally knew I had rights and since 8th grade I NEVER stood nor said the pledge. Occasionally I would get sneers or teachers who would want me to either leave the room or just stand. But I fought them at every turn. Once in 11th grade I almost got into a fist fight with a teacher (who was also a gym teacher) about not standing. He forced me out of the class. So after a LONG discussion with him and the Dean I was allowed to miss the pledge. At the time it was cool because that meant I had easily another 5-10 min to fuck around outside of class. But afterwords I realized it was just a way to make me stand out and look "stupid" in from of my peers. I later fought to be able to sit in class without saying anything at all. which is all I wanted. Then I moved to Florida, where I received a shit storm of problems. For one I was new and not to be egotistical but A lot smarter than most of the kids and a good percent of the teachers. Now I did the same thing. Sat down quietly not saying a word and just went about my business. After 2-3 weeks of the teacher not noticing she finally saw me still sitting and told me to get up. I politely told her no. She was Fuming. So after the pledge she took me outside and warned me to stand next time or I would be sent to the deans office. I informed her it was against both my religious preferences and my political views thus it was a silent protest allowed my law. She sent me directly to the Dean. After I pleaded my case he told me I was a sack of shit and that people were dying for my freedoms. (after noticing the wall of military medals on the wall I realized why.) I told him my father and my brother in law were or are in the service and that I fully support the troops. I applaud them for defending our nation and our constitution. What I don't agree with is two things, Our governments unlawful war and the saying of "One nation under god" which I do not believe because I a. don't believe in god, b. know this nation wasn't founded under "god", and c. that phrase was not put into the "pledge" until 1950s.

He didn't like what I said and told me I had detention after school for three days and would until I stood for the pledge. Also that if I continued I would be suspended and possibly expelled.

I didn't know what to do, so I decided to go to the principal. Surely he would be impartial? I made an appointment with him two days after that. I went to the library and researched my case. I found two supreme court cases that showed precedent on my side one for saying the pledge and one for not standing it. No reason is needed whether it be political or religious. Then I printed those out. I also printed out the Statutes that said I had to stand according to Florida law, but also gave permission to be excused under religious reasons and etc. I was thorough. I color coded the findings, but it into a binder. Highlighted the laws, the decisions, and any important info.

I went to class the next two days sitting and refused to move. I was sent to the deans and given detention and was told that if I did it again I would be suspended. I finally had my meeting with the Principal. I showed him my case and provided him the evidence. He looked at it on his desk and asked me why I was doing this. I explained to him very concisely my intentions and that I had not disturbed class for 3 weeks. He told me the same thing the dean did and wouldn't even look at my papers. I told him if he suspended me I would sue, not only against the school, school district, but also against him for negligence and that I would involve the ACLU. He laughed at me and said do what you have to do.. we will see how far you get.

This guy didn't get it... I knew exactly what I was doing. I went to my other classes including my trial law class (it was a senior extra credit class) and told my teacher about it. Found it he was a Jehovah witness and he even sided with me, saying though my reason were different and my lack of faith "interesting" he still said it was unconstitutional. I went home and decided to call in sick. I needed to figure things out. So I found the number for the ACLU, the closest was in Miami. I called and proceeded to tell the guy over the phone my problem and that I would love to talk to someone who could help. I found out that this was the head lawyer for Southern Florida for the ACLU. I told him the cases I cited and my reasons, my objections as well as the Florida statues and etc. He told me he would take care of it and just to accept the punishment until he could fix it, because if I didn't that is insubordination. I did what he said and he later sent me a copy of the letter he sent to the School board president, vice president as well as the Principal and Dean. It was almost everything I said only in more concise wording. It said that I was to be allowed to sit peacefully and that my record be expunged and that any further harassment would result in multiple lawsuits as well as media attention. It was beautiful. I went to class and was sent to the principals immediately. He told me my record was cleared of everything. That I would be allowed to sit and be quiet and that I should be "careful". I sat in class and smiled the rest of the time I was there. Victory was mine, even if I got odd stares and the word devil spout at me. Come to find out , 2 weeks later, the Football coach was caught with a suitcase full of Coke, and I don't mean the sweet drink. Who is the devil now.. bitches..

sorry for the rant. Just thought I would share.

matthew said...

david croft needs to leave and find a country that wasn't founded on christian beliefs and the rest of you left-wing screwballs need to get over you own selfishness. 1 athiest sitting in a classroom smiling while surrounded by REAL americans that respected our flag and our salute. that why spanking should be allowed. they should've beat your ass until you know better than to act like such a spoiled rotten little prick.

Swordsandlace said...

David Croft has the option of homeschooling his children. There are many Christian parents who, believe it or not, disagree with the public education system as a whole and therefore take their curriculum to the homefront. If Mr. Croft wants a God free zone for his kids, provide one at home under his own guidance and counsel, free from any interference from the state. That's his right as an American Citizen. But he's not doing that. Instead, he is choosing to use his children to antagonize the community and cause them undue stress. He really could remedy his situation very easily but he chooses not to. It's very sad. This only convinces me that he is interested in pursuing a selfish agenda of pushing his secular views and preferences off on everyone else, and that's just not very respectful.

Robin Edgar said...

"I am sure Croft is aware of the latest fundie attack on our secular schools."

Kind of ironic that David Wallace Croft is engaging in something of a fundie attack himself isn't it? He is clearly a fundamentalist atheist U*U engaged in totally eradicating even the slightest hint of religious belief or expression in American schools. This obsessive fundie atheist U*U is certainly placing a big "A" on his forehead but it doesn't stand for Atheist. . .

TazHall said...

The same could be said about federally sanctioned atheism in schools, especially potent in Universities. The "largest undetected religion" in the USA. =D

It's going to be a tug of war either way. It's not possible to be neutral in this arena.

Stacy said...

I asked my son (who is a 10 year old in the same school district as Mr. Croft's children, and his children go to the school I grew up in) what he thought about the new pledge. Our family is divided, both by divorce and Christian-theist dad/atheist mom, so I am not going to object to anything at this point, but when he told me it just sounded stupid to him, that was enough for me.

As far as the pledge and opting out, there's nothing wrong with being a patriot, but nothing says you have to actually SAY the words anyway.
I would be the red-headed step child in the "true" atheist world because I'm not raising my own kids to BE atheist. They hear all sides so that when they're mature they can make their own choices. I was raised to become a Jesus Freak, and I live in the glorious bible belt...and somehow, after wrestling with god/God/Jesus/etc I've managed to realize I was just wrestling with myself. It's an important discovery to make for yourself.

Just my 2 cents.