Did you follow last night on Twitter? If not, that is okay!
We had our Board of Ed meeting in regards to new religions policies in dealing with the distribution of Bibles in a school just before winter break. As per the usual we were slammed with bible verses and hearing how Christians have to stand up and stop being bullied by the minority. I also learned that; the Bible is a history/science/poetry book (I can agree with the latter), Global Warming is a religion, that without God in schools the society will be destroyed in the Last Days, the Founding Fathers insisted on a Theocracy, without God in schools there will be school shootings, and that when bibles were first being rejected in 1963 SAT scores steadily dropped.
So basically the Bible is a textbook, we worship the destruction of our planet, God will destroy our schools, the US is a Christian Nation, only non-Christians shoot up people at school, and without the Bible we are all bumbling idiots. Deep breaths, Ang………deep breaths.
The most crazy part of the evening is when a gentleman by the name of Honeycutt called out Ginger Strivelli by name. This is not the first time he did this, he has done it at EVERY meeting and sticks by the story that this is a work of Ginger all by herself and everyone else supports bibles being school. He states this after Baptist ministers, Rabbi’s, UU ministers, Presbyterians, and Catholics stand up in support of the policy! Well this time Ginger had enough. I was sitting near her on the floor listening for something tweetable and suddenly she was up in a flash. Honestly, I thought she was going to deck him. I mean had it been me, I might have. After that first meeting, the Board has been clear that ONLY the board is to be addressed and this guy blatantly ignored them. But instead of decking him, Ginger grabbed a chair and sat directly in front of the podium so that he had to look at her as he spoke. Now there was Honeycutt trying to speak over the Chairperson who was trying to nix the entire thing in the bud and get Ginger back to her seat and another man yelling at Ginger to go back to her seat. Ginger aggressively, but without the foul language I would have thought to use, said “No Sir”. But a few seconds later she did go back to her seat and the Chairperson addressed the crowd that NO ONE’s name was to be mentioned in any commentary. Honeycutt tried to say it related to policy but Chairperson nixed him and stated, no names. Honeycutt again began to speak about how Ginger was the sole bad guy of it all and the rest of us began yelling “NO”. Because no it’s not true. Why he can’t get it through his head that she has a team of people working on this issue is beyond me. We are all RIGHT THERE in his face.
And speaking of blatant ignorance, more people could not get it through their thick heads that kids were not being instructed that they could not pray. Several children got up to speak about how they were going to pray anyway and the school could just kick them out. That is the PARENTS indoctrinating their kids with fear based bullshit. I am sorry, no nice way to put it. So many people kept mentioning that YES your kids can pray over their lunch all they want, people still were crying tears (literally, not kidding!) that Jesus would be removed from their kids’ lives. As one of our own so succinctly stated, “Jesus is in your hearts always and you need to teach your kids that”.
When it came time to vote everyone was on edge. I can only imagine this is what it’s like in a murder trial or something. The board got hung up about the word neutrality and whether or not it should be replaced with the word unbiased. The Fundies were clapping and whooping because I think they thought the vote would get tabled again. Honestly, I am not sure what they were excited about because the Americans United rep said that the words meant the same thing and wouldn’t change the policy in any way. Personally I thought they might table it again too the way they were hung up on one dang word and I was panicking a bit. Fortunately they voted. And it passed unanimously.
So what does this mean? As of now school officials have to remain neutral in regards to religion. They can still have their prayer over their lunch, wear religious jewelry, and have awesome bumper stickers on their cars. They cannot lead children in prayer (it must be student led), no distribution of materials, and no promotion of any specific religion. There is still more work to be done with the policy, including implementing the policy, but for now we can take a deep breath and move on to the next bit of work. I think I am going to request being a volunteer with the County schools acting as a consultant in regards to religions in the schools. There was something said about that at a meeting with Mountain Area Interfaith Forum.
There is another policy that will be dealt with next year. This policy will in short encourage an annual religions fair at the schools. This means, as of now, that once a year there will be a table for all religions to put their materials on so that students can freely pick up anything their hearts desire. The table will be unmanned but monitored. I can’t tell you how many horrible scenarios I see with something like that. So we will be working to get that one nixed. Fortunately the board held off on voting on that policy until next year which means they want time to see how things go and further investigate any legal implications they may be faced with.
Long journey but it feels right to be on this one. Wasn’t so sure for awhile last night but I am pleased with how things turned out.