One of my first blogs was about an article which detailed an ACLU protest concerning teachers who handed out Bibles at an Alabama elementary school.
My take was simple. What are people afraid is going to happen? Kids will READ it?
I’m not religious. What that means is I’m an atheist. When someone says they’re not religious, it’s a polite way of saying, “Can we please not talk about Jesus and just go back to playing Scattergories?” When someone says they’re an atheist what they mean is they’d really like to spend the next hour shouting arguments they read off the Internet at you.
My wife is a Methodist, and we agreed to raise our daughter as a Christian. I don’t really care. I was raised as a Methodist myself. Who knows? Maybe it’ll stick with her. At a bare minimum she’ll get a few years of hope and faith before it all comes crashing down. That’s her journey to take.
As far as I’m concerned, we’re all just playing with the band while the ship goes down.
Still, in me experience people who are supercharged with religion and feel the need to target kids usually have at least one belief controversial enough that it just won’t work on adults.
Jesus is lord. Fine. Pray for forgiveness. Fine. There is no America. Bingo. There it is. Thank you. You can see yourself out.
The Bible is different. And even if you’re a non-religiousist like I am, you have to ask yourself what is the real issue?
Obviously, the separation of church and state is important. I don’t want religion pushed on my child through a state-run entity. I get that. But a book is a book.
Every parent of an elementary school kid knows that the Bible isn’t going to be read. It’s not the subject matter. In fact, if you DON’T want your kids to know something, write 180,000 words about it in the King’s English and give them a copy. You can hold hands and watch it gather dust on a bookshelf.
Even most Christian adults don’t read the Bible. One of the main reasons church exists is so that people don’t have to read the Bible. Once a week they get up early, grab a shower, put on good clothes, jump in the car, find a parking space, try to remember names and … oh yes … listen to a lecture from someone who’s read the Bible and can sum up the important parts. Really church is just a book club.
What amazes me is that there are apparently a large number of people eager to change their lives and champion a religion whose instruction manual they haven’t read. If you believe in a soul, it should be your top priority. Why do you know more about your car’s insurance plan than your soul’s insurance plan?
As I said, I understand the desire to keep undesired religious ideas out of your own home. But a book stands alone.
Let’s look at this objectively.
Suppose my 7-year-old daughter brought home the Bible and also happened to somehow not only want to read it but actually accomplished just that. What’s the worst that could happen? She reads a book that changes her life and develops her own spiritual identity.
As an atheist, I don’t care. I could be wrong. Who am I to tell someone they’re right or wrong about a god or afterlife? I don’t know any more than they do. That’s why there ARE so many religions. They can’t be proved or disproved yet.
As far as I know we’re all damned because we haven’t been sacrificing goats to Jupiter.
What’s the best that could happen? She reads a 180,000-word book objectively and gains a better feel for world history. At a bare minimum she’d be a much better reader by the time she finished the book.
My daughter just finished first grade. Most of those books don’t have many words at all in them. To give you an idea, “Green Eggs and Ham” has 769 words in it. It’s also pretty beefy for a typical first grade book. Reading the Bible would be like reading “Green Eggs and Ham” hundreds of times.
I’m really not seeing the downside here.
What we’re really talking about is a public authority figure trying to influence our children’s religious beliefs. Obviously, that shouldn’t happen. But protests and news articles are a bit much.
You have to examine the scope of the action’s results. Someone probably said “Jesus” to your child and gave them a free book. Your kid’s not going to come home and demand to go to church. Even if they do, nothing will sap your child’s desire to go to church faster than going to church. It’s like the entire ceremony is designed to bore the crap out of kids.
You might wind up having to talk about religion with your child a bit. But really, this is a conversation that’s going to happen in elementary school anyway. You might not be aware of this, but kids talk to each other. And they’re particularly interested in people in the sky that give them free stuff. Jesus is going to come up in school, whether it be because a teacher said it or because a classmate did.
What did kids at the school really learn from this? Complain loudly whenever you don’t get your way. If you don’t like something, it should be removed. Giving away stuff and speaking your mind is wrong. THEY don’t want you to read the Bible so you should rebel by getting knocked up and giving birth in a barn.
Sometimes the traditional activist response isn’t the best course of action. Activist or parent. Sometimes you have to decide.