There is a scandal in my town, a scandal that is getting some national attention. North Windy Ridge Elementary School passed out some Bibles on the last day of school before Winter Break. A local pagan woman has challenged the school and now the proverbial shit has hit the fan.
Ultimately the problem is, the school broke laws. Under no circumstances can religious texts or religious books be handed out to students, especially when children are told they can leave class early if they pick up said religious text or book. But that isn’t where the real problem lies. The real problem lies in the local media stirring the pot and causing divisiveness in our town.
SHUT UP ALREADY!
WLOS and Citizen Times are pretty notorious for using the shiny to distract from the real story. They often don’t do follow ups that show other sides to a story either. I know this from personal experience with a past co-worker (and it wasn’t a religious situation either). Nope, once they figure out how to manipulate the majority’s emotions…..they run with it. Seriously, if someone gets hurt at any point in this crap they should be held responsible. Well, if I had any say in it they would. Anyone who stirs up the trouble and then sits back and watches the explosion, in order to have more scandalous news to report AND gain more attention, should have to answer to someone. Trust me, neither of them are reporting about the good work that is happening as a result of the school. And this is the main reason why I no longer watch local news or read the local paper, it’s all fluff crap that doesn’t offer any intelligence to the table.
We Need God’s Army
Some local fundamentalist preachers are now preaching about an apparent “need” for “God’s Army”. Really? I MEAN REALLY? Come on! Preaching to a bunch of rednecks with a slew of fire arms about how they need to rise up and act as God’s Army and be God’s Warriors is one of the most unloving things someone can do in the name of Christ. Not only does this mean people now have to take measures to protect themselves from the crazy loonies, but it doesn’t exactly want anyone to convert to the “one true religion”. This is where I get really confused by the fundamentalist community. Allegedly it’s their job to “witness” to the rest of us and bring us all to God. But then if someone says “hey, you broke a law” and it happens to involve something with their religion……it’s time to start an army? I honestly don’t get it. Here is the real deal, my dear fundamentalist neighbors. It’s not about you. Let me repeat that……it’s not about you! No. It’s about the fact that the school broke the law. A law that is in place not only to protect me or someone of another non-Christian religion, it’s also there to protect the Christian religion. The bibles that were handed out were Gideon International. I know quite a few Christians that don’t feel that the Gideon International is the “right” bible. And what if it was a Catholic Bible? Oh yea, quite a few people would have shit bricks over that as well. Freedom of religion MUST be protected for everyone. This is NOT a Christians vs Pagans issue at the least.
I Am Not Respected
In situations like this, where the media has inflamed the loudest of Christians, Pagans tend to get defensive. They feel a need to either hide in the shadows and be scared or to rise up and preach about their beliefs and how not-evil we are. And yes, the fact that a bible was passed out can really hit a nerve with some in our community due to past abuses. But. There is a way to handle this and it’s extremely delicate. I hear a lot of “I am not taken seriously religiously” and “I am not respected”. First rule of thumb, you have to respect yourself first before you expect others to respect you. If I want to be held as equal amongst my peers, than I have to hold myself as equal. And when I do and they choose to try and say I am not equal? I smile, pat their hand, and pray for them. Look, we are not going to convince everyone how awesome we are. It takes baby steps to do it. And if you think that it’s a Christians vs. Pagans situation? WRONG! We have a slew of support from Christians and the Jewish communities here. But you know, the media can’t tell y’all that. And at the Mountain Area Interfaith Forum, pagan clergy (and in training such as myself) are treated as equals amongst the other clergy that attend. Locally speaking, it’s time to stop with the persecution and move forward to what we all claim we want.
Say ‘NO’ To Comments Section
And for the love of all that is Holy, stop commenting on forums! Here is the deal with forums. None of the fundamentalists (on both sides) are really interested in learning from each other and growing. All it is, is a bunch of people shouting about their awesome faiths and no one listening. Or at worse, they find the negative shit to focus on. The fundamentalist Christian talks and the Pagan reports back to others online (and in real life) about “this is to be expected with those people”. And vice versa. It solves nothing. It just makes things worse. Once in a great while there is great discussion, but it’s few and far between. Citizen Times comment section is nothing but a bunch of close minded nitwits who have no one listening to them in real life, so they go there to shout. Let. It. Go.
I Get It
Look, I get it. I understand the hurt feelings. I understand the fear (on both sides). But the fact of the matter is, there are ways to handle it. And it’s happening, behind the scenes. Lots of hard work is going on and good things will be coming out in the next couple of weeks. Shit happens and it can be fixed. We just need to be adult about it and go through the correct legal venues that are available to all of us.
I hadn’t said much about this because I was afraid I couldn’t be objective. I know people involved, some more than others. I haven’t been very involved but I will be helping with an issue this week. I am not going to be distracted by the Shiny. I am not going to allow people to make this a Christian vs Pagans situation. I am not going to make stabs at people’s character or credibility in effort to make myself feel better about me. There is a problem, it is being dealt with, and all will be well. But until everyone stops pointing fingers and acts like mature adults is when all the crap will blow over and people can get along.