I was recently shown this video by a group of Christian US school students calling themselves Reach America, entitled The Thaw, in which, carefully coached and obviously reading off cue cards, they bemoan why Christianity is excluded from US schools.
Well to begin with, there is a very good reason why Christianity is excluded from state schools in the USA. It has all to do with a little matter known as the First Amendment of the US Consitution;
“Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting an Establishment of Religion, or Prohibiting the Free Exercise Thereof; or Abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the Press; or the Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble, and To Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances.” (First Amendment of the US Constitution)
The First Amendment guarantees the “wall between church and state”, which means that no governmental institution, including state schools, may establish any one given religion. As this is laid down in the constitution, to do so would be unconstitutional.
For those who haven’t seen the video, get the popcorn out, here it is:
I shall now go through this video and address the questions and concerns of the young people involved.
“Christianity is being completely frozen out of America.”
According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 78.4% of US citizens consider themselves Christian, compared to 4.7% who are of other religions and 16.1% who are “unaffiliated” (including atheists). That is a massive percentage, particularly compared to incredibly small number of other religions, so you cannot say with any certainty that Christianity is being “frozen out”. And if you wish to counter that, please supply proof of your claim.
“Why can’t I pray in school.”
I’m sure you can, somewhere private, just not in public and expect the rest of the students and teachers to join in. See my point about the First Amendment.
“Why do I have to check my religion at the door.”
Because it is just that; your religion. Why do you feel the need to bother others who may not be interested with it? If you want the rest of the school following your religion, you are attempting to contravene the First Amendment.
“Why can’t I write about God in my school papers?”
That depends upon the context surely? If you are writing broadly about religion and mention God objectively, then I am sure your teachers would have no problem with that. If you are however attempting to attribute some event to the God you personally follow, then that is against the First Amendment.
“Why do I have to allow people cursing my God, but I am not allowed to talk about my God and my Faith?”
Are people really cursing your God? If there’s any cursing being done, I suggest you take that up with your principal. You are not allowed to talk about your God and faith because again, it contravenes the First Amendment.
“Why are they taking God out of my history books?”
I am a history fanatic and I have rarely seen mention of “God” or “Gods” in any history books, except in the broadest objective sense. If you are claiming that your educators are attempting to rewrite history, I would like to see your evidence for that.
“Why do they teach every other theory in science except creation.”
Because creation is neither a theory nor science, it is mythology and as such has no place in a science class.
“Why am I called names because I believe in marriage the way God designed it.”
Well for a start marriage way predates the Judeo/Christian tradition, so your religion does not have a monopoly upon it. There is actually no mention of a design of marriage in the Bible, so I am unsure what you mean. If you are claiming however that marriage is meant only for men and women, and you are being called a homophobe due to that, then that is a title which you deserve.
“Some even call us hypocrites, hateful, unloving, close-minded, bigots.”
Then don’t be hypocritical, hateful, unloving, close-minded bigots. If you are being called names such as these, you must have given your accusers just cause to lay these accusations at your doors. If not, complain to your principals.
“Why can’t Tim Tebow praise God after making a touchdown without causing a national uproar?”
This was not a “national uproar”, it was a storm in a teacup and a nine day wonder, which the vast majority of people in the US – and worldwide – couldn’t care less about. And I hardly see how this is even relevant to your campaign.
“The football coach at Rigdeland High School in Georgia was investigated by the school board.”
“Did he abuse a student?”
“Is he a terrorist?”
“He allowed local churches to feed his football team.”
Okay, now I’ve recovered from laughing at the communal gasp.
Quote from the Walker County Schools Superintendent:
“… on game day, [coach Mark] Mariakis takes the football team to a local church for dinner. We understand that at these events the church’s preacher sermonizes to the players “about the Christian religion”… News reports show that Mariakis leads the team in pre- or post-game prayers. Our complainant reports that Mariakis uses Bible verses on team gear, such as shirts, and in speeches to excite the team… Finally, we have been told that Mariakis pressures players to attend a “Christian football camp that the players have to pay for” and that Mariakis “looks down upon” those who do not attend…”
In other words, Coach Mariakis was using his position to push his own Christian religion upon his players, no matter what their background may be. In doing so, he contravened the First Amendment. And yes, he did indeed abuse students by pushing his religion upon them, as well as abusing his position and the US Constitution.
“In public school I’m called Lesbian…”
“…for not kissing, or for wanting to save myself for marriage.”
That is your perogative. If you feel that way, do not bow to peer pressure.
“In public school dating is an obligation.”
Indeed it is not. And if you maintain it is, I would like you to show me just exactly where it is laid down in your school curriculum.
“In public school people are rude and disrespectful towards Christians.”
Well if they know you are so vehemently Christian, then you must have displayed that openly to them. Perhaps if you did not try to rudely ram your faith down the throats of others, perhaps they would show you more respect.
“Bullying is common.”
I doubt there is one single school anywhere in the entire world where bullying is not common. Indeed, when I hear a headteacher (UK version of a US principal) state their school has a bullying problem, I listen. It is the ones who claim their school does not have a bullying problem which have alarm bells going off in my head. Indeed bullying is common, and I have seen and heard of a great many instances where students of an atheist or other non-Christian background have been bullied, harrassed, and physically assaulted in US schools, and of the teachers not only doing nothing to combat it, but being implicated in the bullying themselves. Will you therefore equally condemn such bullying of non-Christians?
“What we see in our health classes… …sex education… …fourth grade and up… …is pornography.”
I sincerely doubt that. I sincerely doubt any of you have ever seen any pornography.
By the way, kid with the glasses; when talking about sex education and attempting to condemn it, you may not want to make a gesture like you are grasping a pair of breasts (1:30 on the video).
“People make fun of me because I don’t believe in abortion.”
I would like to hear your arguments against abortion because perhaps it is just the way you put it across? Have you considered that?
“In public school people believe Christians are goody-goods and boring.”
Well that is down to your own public persona which you may have to work upon.
“Dirty jokes fill the hallways between classes… …during class… …before school… …at lunch… …on the bus… …off the bus.”
As they do in every high school environment everywhere in the world. When you have an environment of pubescent teenagers with raging hormones, that is always going to happen. But do you know what? If the parents of the overwhelming vast majority of those teenagers heard their kids do it, they would wash their mouths out with carbolic soap.
“Get the idea.”
Yes. Natural teenage behaviour.
“Despite modern popular belief, America was founded as a Christian nation.”
Indeed it was not. That is why you have the First Amendment and the wall between church and state.
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.” (Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Dunbury Baptists, 1 January 1802)
“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” (Treaty of Tripoli, 7 June 1797)
“My grandparents tell me that the church used to be the centre of a community.”
Indeed it was, as it was here in Scotland, and any other country in the world where Christianity is the main religion. But that does not make your country a Christian country in any legal sense. It is actually quite interesting to note that the USA is de jure (as it is in law) a secular state, whereas it is de facto (as it is in reality) a nation largely composing of Christians, whereas my country, Scotland, is de jure a Christian country but has become de facto a multicultural, secular state.
If you are going to argue that just because the vast majority of your population is Christian, then your country is Christian, makes about as much sense as saying that just because the vast majority of your population comes from a north European background, your country must be north European.
Plus consider that before Europeans arrived in the Americas, the Native Americans followed their own beliefs in their communities for millennia, many of such beliefs which were all but wiped out by the arrival of Christianity.
“In school prayer and pledging to the flag was welcomed and appreciated.”
Indeed it was. However, the former was later considered to be unconstitutional, which is why it was removed. And I believe that most still do pledge allegiance to the flag to this day.
“No one would dare not to stand and place their hand over their heart and recite the pledge.”
So in other words they were bullied into doing so, regardless of what their own personal feelings would be? That is an infringement upon freedom of speech, expression and conscience. Apart from which would you rather students be forced to swear allegiance, or that they do it willingly, completely of their own volition?
It may also interest you to know that before American school students put their hand on their heart to recite the pledge, they practised the “Bellamy” or “Flag” salute, which involved snapping their heels together and raising their right arm and hand straight at an upwards angle, which of course is exactly the same sort of salute which was adopted by the Italian Fascists and the Nazis in Germany. The hand over the heart gesture replaced the Bellamy Salute when the US Congress instituted the Flag Code on 22 December 1942.
“America was once a force for good.”
Indeed it was, and has the potential to be so again, but never through the Christian faith.
“America was once the hope for the world.”
As above. Plus the USA took in the world’s immigrants, of various races, cultures – and religions.
“In 1962 the Supreme Court ruled that prayer was unconstitutional in Schools.”
Engel v Vitale, 1962, which found that prayer in school contravened the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which it did indeed do. It may also interest you to learn that the American Jewish Committee and the Synagogue Council of America both submitted briefs urging the Court to rule that prayer was unconstitutional, on the grounds that it was enforcing Christian prayer upon Jewish students, which infringed their First Amendment rights of freedom of religion.
“In 1963 the courts ruled the Bible unconstitutional.”
Abington School District v Schempp, 1963, was a follow on from Engel v Vitale, which came to the roughly the same decision, that public readings of Bible passages in class contravened the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and enforced Christian teaching upon non-Christian students, thereby infringing their First Amendment rights.
“Saying that if the ten commandments were read in school… …that students might be inclined to follow them.”
Yes, really? I would love to see your evidence for that claim because it appears nowhere in the summing of Justice Clark in the Abington School District v Schempp case. But consider this; the teaching of the ten commandments imposed Judeo/Christian beliefs upon all students, regardless of their background or religion, which was a clear infringement of their First Amendment rights.
“For over fifty years Christians have been unwilling to get involved.”
I would like so see the evidence for that claim, as they seem to be active enough online. If you are referring however to Christianity in schools, they are probably not combatting the cases of the 1960s, because legally they do not have a leg to stand on, and they know it.
“People who do not love our God… …have stolen our country.”
Since the founding of the USA in 1776, every US President has been a regular church-going Christian. The vast majority of their governments have been made up of devout Christians. Every public office in the USA has almost always had a devout Christian incumbent. Your currency states “In God we Trust.”
How can you therefore, with any amount of seriousness, state that those who do not love your God have stolen your country?
“Jesus said we are salt and light.”
“Salt and light melts ice.”
Indeed, under the correct conditions. You’ll notice however that the vast amount of light the polar regions receive (six months out of every year each) and the surrounding salt water have done little to melt the permafrost of the polar regions, which have been frozen for 100,000 years.
“It is time for a thaw.”
Far from a thaw, your views would impose Christianity as a state religion upon the USA, leading to the infringement of rights and persecution of millions of non-Christians. If you want to see what life is like in a theocracy, study the histories of countries which have gone through that, including Scotland, or just look to countries with fundamentalist Islamic laws today.
“President Ronald Reagan called America a shining light on a hill; a beacon of hope for the world to see.”
And the same president, who destroyed the US economy and the hopes of millions of US citizens, also respected the First Amendment and the wall between church and state.
“We are going to let our little American lights shine.”
Awwww. How cute.
“Through the power of Jesus Christ, we proclaim today… …we refuse to be frozen out of the public square.”
Except that nobody is freezing you out of the public square. Your views and freedoms are enshrined in the US Constitution. You just can’t espouse them in public buildings. That would be unconstitutional.
“Our voices will be heard.”
I’m listening, believe me. I just happen to disagree with what you are saying.
“Let’s reverse it… …fix it… …we’re going to turn it around.”
In which case you will be attempting to contravene the very constitution which assures your own freedoms.
“This is a call to our generation… …we’re calling on the youth of America to join us.”
All of them? Or just the Christians?
At Reach America, we are creating a Christ-centred counter culture – A C4 community.”
And which adult marketing expert came up with that odious soundbite?
“A place filled with Christian teens on a mission… …to reach America and our friends for Christ.”
Which is great if that’s what you believe. Just don’t try to impose it upon others.
“Christ and our country matter to us.”
The two are incompatible together. If you claim that your country matters to you, then you would not attempt to infringe the US Constitution.
“At Reach America we are learning to lead our generation.”
I don’t see many following. In fact, I think that your message is more likely to turn a great many teens away from you.
“We are servants, encourages.”
At least I think that’s what you said. It’s not clear, sorry. I don’t recall servants ever being so very vocal.
“We are learning to hear God’s voice, to adjust our lives to his will.”
Or are you attempting to change others to your will?
“God is changing our lives.”
“We are building life changing relationships.”
“We are a family.”
“We are a team.”
And if that brings you comfort, then good for you. I don’t happen to believe it for one moment but I’ll always respect your right to your faith. Just keep it to yourself is all I ask.
“We are an army.”
“Christ is our commander.”
And suddenly it starts getting disturbing again.
“Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” (Matthew 26:52, KJV)
“His will is our charge.”
Or do you mean your will is your charge?
“We are enacting our friends… …our families… …our community… …our state… …our country.”
Trying to enforce your religion upon others, even if they neither believe nor want it.
“We are in a war for the hearts and souls of our generation… …and we know it.”
Get the white flag ready.
“Failure is not an option… …we are going to win.”
Just as I thought the same when I was young, idealistic, and an Independent Baptist. Sorry, but your failure is inevitable, and you cannot possibly win this ‘war’.
“If God be for us… …who can be against us?”
Well, the founding fathers who wrote the US Constitution would certainly have been against you, as Congress, the US Supreme Court, and the vast majority of the population of USA will stand against you today. Because you are attempting to destroy the US Constitution.
“The thaw has begun.”
Pity it cannot melt your cold hearts.
“High school Christian teens… …join us… …join us… …(group) join us at Reach America.”
And those who aren’t Christian, shove another heavy metal album on.
“…in the fight for our generation… …for our nation… …for our future.”
That we might impose our faith upon others.
“In America… …we still hold these truths to be self-evident… …that all men are created equal… …that they are endowed by their creator… …with certain unaliable rights… …that among these are… …life… …liberty… …and the pursuit of happiness.”
And you will notice that in this quote from the US Declaration of Independence, not once does it make any mention of Jesus or the Christian religion. Instead is says “by thier creator”, which does not necessarily refer to the Judeo/Christian God but could refer to any belief system, or all. Besides which the US Constitution is the law, not the Declaration of Independence, and it’s wall between church and state is what ensures all religious freedom, your own included.
“Join the movement at Reach America… …Let’s reach our communities… …Let’s reach our states… …Let’s reach America.
To ram our beliefs down the throats of others.
“Adults, please pray for us, support us, and get involved.”
Hmmm. Can’t do it alone after all then? And you won’t even with adults involved.
“Together, looking to Christ as a strength, the thaw will be complete… …and America will be one nation under God… …(togeher) again.”
Under YOUR God. Tell me how that is in any way fair upon those of other faiths? And besides which, it never was “one nation under God”. It may interest you to learn that the actual pledge of allegiance never existed until 1892, and it was not until 1954 that the words “under God” were added to the pledge in a response to “Godless” communism. And if you wish to speak of “one nation”, consider that the motto of the USA was E Pluribus Unum – one from many – right up until 1956, when it was changed to “In God we Trust”. “In God we Trust” meanwhile, did not appear on US coinage until 1864 and only appeared on paper bills in 1957.
The mission of Reach America is no different from any such campaign before, or any other such campaigns in the future. It is an attempt to establish Christianity as the state religion of the United States of America. Given that the USA is indeed a melting pot of cultures, of many religions, and none, that cannot ever be allowed to happen. Which is precisely why the founding fathers made it perfectly clear in the US Constitution that freedom of religion would be enshrined as a right for all, and why a wall between church and state was established.
I would therefore ask the members of Reach America to consider this; if you care so very much about the United States of America as you claim to do, then by attempting to impose one religion upon another, you would contravene the US Constitution. And that, by definition, is a treasonable act. By trying to force your religion upon all US citizens, you do not stand for all that the USA stands for, in fact by definition of your movement, you stand steadfastly against your nation and her peoples. And that my friends is treason by anyone’s definition.
Finally, if there is one failing in the US education system, it would appear to be in the teaching of history and consitutional matters. I can say that with certainty because I do not live in the USA, nor am I a US citizen, but I have clearly illustrated that I know considerably more about US history and the US Constitution than the teens of Reach America ever shall do.