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Mississippi madrasas…with a poll

The reminiscences of right-wing kooks are so very different from mine.

As a young child I remember very vividly reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and also morning prayer. When you talk about the “good old days” those are visions that come to my mind.  Of course those are things that have been taken away but Mississippi has decided otherwise.

I remember vividly how as a young child my school forced me to sit through the droll anecdotes of that old chucklehead, Paul Harvey. The first year I was just stupefied; gradually I came to despise that voice and its smug moralisms. For some reason, the public schools all thought the affected mannerisms of a conservative snake oil salesman were perfectly appropriate to blast at students every goddamned day.

Don’t get me started on the pledge of allegiance. I started out reciting that thing when I was very young, but got progressively annoyed at the very first line, once my vocabulary was good enough to know what the words meant: I’m pledging allegiance to a flag? WTF? I wasn’t even an atheist yet when I decided that was nonsense, and every morning I’d rise, put my hand on my heart (so I’d fit in), and say nothing. Then I stopped with the hand on the heart. Now I only rise because in the usual venues where this is done now, sitting would mean staring at the butt of the person in front of you.

Prayer would have been intolerable. Even before I was aware that I was an atheist, this business of pretending to talk to god made me very uncomfortable.

When I hear people babble about the “good old days” of school it always seems to be these memories of rote and ritual and reinforcement, stuff that is the antithesis of learning. Me? My magic school moments were learning about logarithms (seriously, mind blown), doing geometry with a compass and straightedge, algebra, and trigonometry.

So when some gomer tells me his vision of education was reciting the same words over and over, I’ve got him pegged already: he didn’t learn him nothin’.

Reliably, such people will continue to babble on, confirming my initial impression.

First and foremost though, why was the Pledge of Allegiance axed?  Because of the words “under God.” It’s based on our country and the fact that we are Americans who proudly belong to the United States of America.

When, exactly, was the pledge of allegiance “axed”? The last time I went to a school assembly they had us recite it (I didn’t). I’ve seen it done at sports events. As I said above, when I wasn’t even an atheist I found it objectionable for its tediousness and for the bizarre demand that we swear loyalty to a piece of cloth. Besides, the “under god” bit was tacked on during the Cold War and wasn’t even in the original version.

Having an open mind, I have always thought no matter what side of the fence you are on with the bible, “In God We Trust” is in everyone’s pocket; atheist or not.  Show me an atheist who doesn’t have at least a penny in his or her pocket.

From a penny to a $100 bill, “In God We Trust” is clearly marked on every unit of U.S.Currency.  If it’s good enough for our money, by golly it’s good enough for our schools.

I…what?

Do we atheists have an alternative? If some form of currency valid in the US did not say “In god we trust”, would theists refuse to use it? Would carrying it in any way imply that you were an atheist?

This argument, stupid as it is, is actually rather interesting. Our constitution plainly states that the government may not establish any religion — yet here’s a Mississippi loudmouth declaring that “In god we trust” on money imposes a religious belief on its bearers. Thanks, guy, for declaring it unconstitutional!

So again, if it was deemed so bad for schools, why was it not removed from our currency? My point being, it should have never been removed in the first place, but some atheists want it removed from all currency.  We live in the United States of America and we base many of our principles on the Holy Bible.  If I moved to Japan I wouldn’t be complaining that my God was not being allowed in my child’s school and I sure wouldn’t complain about theirs.

Clearly, it should be removed from our currency, especially when it’s seen as an explicit endorsement of religion by the government. It’s also apparently damaging our educational system, since Mr Redneck here obviously had a substandard education, since he got through it all without comprehending the rudiments of logic and without learning any history. Sorry, bozo, but those religious phrases haven’t been removed, but were actually added in the 1950s; the founding principles of our country were not based on the Bible at all, but on the Enlightenment.

These guys always make me feel like a conservative. They harken back to the days of Joe McCarthy — they can’t see beyond the barrier of the Red Scare — while I fondly think it would be nice if we returned to the principles of Jefferson and Madison (sans the evil excuses for slavery, that is).

Anyway, what’s got the idiots in Mississippi fired up now? Their governor just signed a law requiring public schools to allow students to pray publicly over the morning intercom, and at various school events. You know, I evolved into an atheist gradually, only becoming aware of it in my teen years, but if they’d started my morning with some sanctimonious ass yammering godly nonsense at me every day, BAM, flaming militant atheist in kindergarten.

Of course they have a poll to go with their ignorant noise, and of course, since it’s Mississippi, you can predict exactly how it’s leaning.

Would you have an issue with allowing prayer back in your child’s school?

No 80.37%
Yes 18.87%
I don’t care either way 1%

Comments

  1. says

    As far as I know, the Pledge is still done in schools but students have the choice to not participate as long as they don’t interfere with those who choose to participate (and vice versa). When I think of my good ol’ days of school, it was studying dinosaurs and geology and marine biology and getting in trouble for drawing caricatures of my fellow students that I remember most.

  2. Rawnaeris, Lulu Cthulhu says

    Hmm we’re going to have to work hard to pharyngulate that poll. 13K “no, that’s fine,” votes already…

  3. tsig says

    How about:

    “There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet”.

    Said while bowing towards Mecca.

  4. microraptor says

    As far as I know, the Pledge is still done in schools but students have the choice to not participate as long as they don’t interfere with those who choose to participate (and vice versa).

    And thanks to the magic of peer pressure, you’re unlikely to find any students who actually opt out of it, since to do otherwise would simply make them a target.

  5. says

    #5 — my son did. His teachers fussed about it at first but he pressed them that it was his right and they relented. I daresay some other kids followed suit, too.

  6. says

    These guys always make me feel like a conservative.

    In a way, you are. We should really stop calling Republicans “conservative”, because they don’t want to conserve anything. Instead, they’re radicals that want to undo pretty much all progress that has been achieved in the US in the last century or so, from the social safety net, sensible regulation, the EPA and the FDA, to public education and civil rights.

  7. tbp1 says

    I left out the words “under God” when reciting the pledge. I was widely known through my high school as a religious skeptic. It got me targeted for a certain amount of verbal abuse, and somebody (I never did figure out who) left Chick and other tracts on my desk almost daily. Once I was punched in a parking lot, but all things considered, given the time and place, it could have been much worse.

    My parents were conventionally religious, but to give them great credit, always supported me in expressing and living out my beliefs.

  8. says

    Wasn’t it just last night that I was pointing out how beneficial rituals are, and how intellectuals who pride themselves on their delusions of being robots have difficulty gaining the benefits of those rituals because they’re unable to transcend their own self-centered intellectualism? Or words to that affect.

    Personally, I just stopped saying the line “under God” back in parochial school. But I’m not one of those atheists that is so anti-authoritarian that I’m allergic to oaths. I always thought the idea of swearing allegiance to an abstract symbol of the country was brilliant.

  9. consciousness razor says

    So again, if it was deemed so bad for schools, why was it not removed from our currency?

    I remember Catholic school, when every morning they would have us carefully inspect our lunch money and take its message to heart. Actually, that didn’t happen. But it would have been really weird, like all the prayers and Masses I had to attend at school (in addition to Sunday Masses, of course). Why did we waste so much of our time on that at Catholic school, when it could’ve been spent … well … learning about stuff?

  10. machintelligence says

    A small observation about Paul Harvey: I knew the Vietnam war was soon to end the day he came out against the conflict.

  11. CaitieCat says

    Glad we never had any form of this in the UK or Canada. When I came to Canada, I can remember them starting the day with the anthem and the Lord’s Prayer, which I thought was goofy and a waste of time, but probably not worth arguing about when I was 9. By the time I might have argued about it, they’d stopped it.

    I remember the kafuffle in the community from the patriots racists, though, when my high school started doing the morning announcements in Cantonese and English. We had a huge influx of students from Hong Kong in the area of Toronto that I lived in, and it was just more practical to have dual-language announcements. But OMFIPU did the racists go kookoo for cocoa-puffs.

  12. says

    @Brett McCoy in #6:

    His teachers fussed about it at first…

    So not just peer pressure, but pressure from the actual authority figures too. Nice.

  13. culuriel says

    I voted yes! The public schools do not exist to push your religion on kids of any faith.

  14. peptron says

    Funny, I went to a catholic school, and there were no prayers in places that were not directly tied to religion. In fact, I can’t remember there being public prayers EVEN in places directly tied to religions (other than the church). Though, in their defense, I think one of the main reasons is that the Bible forbids public prayers except in directly religious contexts.
    That is another thing that I think is odd in the US. Public prayers in schools is forbidden by the very Bible they swear is sacred. Surely they care a bit about what is actually written on it, or is it just the paper that is sacred?

  15. says

    I always thought the idea of swearing allegiance to an abstract symbol of the country was brilliant.

    And I always thought how weird it was for the Americans to warn about the dangers of Communist indoctrination, while they themselves have these regularly scheduled sessions of young kids droning on about allegiance, flags, gods, and stuff. Land of the free indeed. It’s not brilliant, it’s scary.

  16. steffp says

    It’s strange how the god-botherers invariably refer to the fifties as a time when everything was “still in order”, forgetting about the preceding two decades of economic helter-skelter, and mass poverty.
    Just happened to stumble upon N. Mailer’s “The Naked And the Dead” (1948), and reread it. Overt racism and discrimination against Jews, Blacks, Orientals is described on every page. And, in flash-backs, the Great Depression. One tends to forget that ground bass of the US society of that time.
    .
    As for “God-Mottoes”, they seem to be pretty bad talismans. The perished Russian Empire had the Motto “Съ нами Богъ!” God with us on its coat of arms, as had Prussia, and later the German Reich. German soldiers in both World Wars had “Gott mit uns” inscriptions on their belt buckles, unlike the SS, which used “our honor is loyalty”. The West German army and police had the motto removed from their belt buckles in the 1960s (!), and replaced with a citation from the national anthem, “unity, justice, and freedom”.

  17. peptron says

    Of course, I meant “written in it”, not “written on it”. Though that might be what they are doing. It’s like the constitution, they care about it a lot. But the stuff written in it? Who cares?

  18. jamessweet says

    And again with the dishonest framing…. “allowing prayer back into school”, prayer has never been banned from American public schools, and in fact it would be a flagrant First Amendment violation if it were. What has been banned is officially-sanctioned prayer. Lying for Jesus and all…

  19. jamessweet says

    Neither my credit nor my debit card have “In God We Trust” on them. Neither do the electrons that make up most financial transactions.

    Actually, you cannot prove that “In God We Trust” is not somehow encoded into electrons. I suppose you could make a convincing case that it couldn’t be printed on them, but it could still be encoded in some other way — and you can’t prove it’s not!

    In fact, I would say that the case for “In God We Trust” on each and every electron is comparably plausible to the case for the Christian god. So for people who believe in the latter, hey, why not believe in the former?

  20. jamessweet says

    And thanks to the magic of peer pressure, you’re unlikely to find any students who actually opt out of it, since to do otherwise would simply make them a target.

    This varies a lot regionally. In upstate NYS, where I grew up, by late junior high almost nobody was actually saying the pledge, not out of any principled stance, but because nobody much gave a shit. People generally stood, IIRC, but very few people actually said it.

    I understand it is quite different in the Bible Belt :)

  21. ekwhite says

    I refused to say the pledge of allegiance in high school during the Vietnam war. They forced me to stand during the pledge by threatening expulsion, but I refused to say the words. I would just stand there with my hand over my heart saying nothing. I still refuse to say the pledge.

  22. Nick Gotts says

    Wasn’t it just last night that I was pointing out how beneficial rituals are, and how intellectuals who pride themselves on their delusions of being robots have difficulty gaining the benefits of those rituals because they’re unable to transcend their own self-centered intellectualism? – maxdevlin

    [citation needed]

  23. David Marjanović says

    No 78.38% (13,868 votes)

    Yes 20.85% (3,690 votes)

    I don’t care either way 0.77% (136 votes)

    Total Votes: 17,694

    Prayer would have been intolerable. Even before I was aware that I was an atheist, this business of pretending to talk to god made me very uncomfortable.

    …Interesting that you considered it “pretending”. Why?

    #5 — my son did. His teachers fussed about it at first but he pressed them that it was his right and they relented. I daresay some other kids followed suit, too.

    *clenched-tentacle salute*

    Wasn’t it just last night that I was pointing out how beneficial rituals are, and how intellectuals who pride themselves on their delusions of being robots have difficulty gaining the benefits of those rituals because they’re unable to transcend their own self-centered intellectualism? Or words to that affect.

    You weren’t pointing it out. You were claiming it.

    Dude, have you never noticed that the only countries where schoolchildren recite a pledge are dictatures and the USA? I vividly remember seeing little girls in Yemen on TV loudly pledging allegiance to al-thawra, the Revolution; that was so creepy…

    But I’m not one of those atheists that is so anti-authoritarian that I’m allergic to oaths.

    Oh, I’ve signed oaths when they actually make sense: for each of my academic degrees, I signed one saying I would keep my knowledge of my fields up to date (among other things).

    I always thought the idea of swearing allegiance to an abstract symbol of the country was brilliant.

    I think the concept of allegiance to a country is the Root of A Lot Of Evil.

    So not just peer pressure, but pressure from the actual authority figures too. Nice.

    Was there even peer pressure? If the pressure only comes from the authorities and not from the peers, its days are numbered.

    Public prayers in schools is forbidden by the very Bible they swear is sacred.

    To be fair, the Bible contradicts itself on this. It both forbids and commands it.

    “Съ нами Богъ!”

    Oh! I didn’t even know!

    The West German army and police had the motto removed from their belt buckles in the 1960s (!)

    !!!
    !!!
    !!!

    I’m out of words, except for noting how little actually changed in Europe till (roughly speaking) 1968. I think that’ll increasingly come to be seen as an outright revolution, and not because cobblestones were thrown in Paris.

  24. sigurd jorsalfar says

    I find your comments insufferably smug, maxdevlin. “[U]nable to transcend their own self-centered intellectualism” sums you up rather well.

  25. says

    maxdevlin:

    Wasn’t it just last night that I was pointing out how beneficial rituals are, and how intellectuals who pride themselves on their delusions of being robots have difficulty gaining the benefits of those rituals because they’re unable to transcend their own self-centered intellectualism? Or words to that affect.

    Wasn’t it just last night that I was pointing out how ridiculous rituals are, and those who perform them are just play-acting with smug misplaced sincerity? It’s like a form of cosplay for the intellectually stunted, only without a hint of self-awareness, and completely devoid of fun.

    Or words to that effect.

  26. robert79 says

    As a foreigner living a few years in the US during my high school days, I said the pledge (rote memorized) until I knew enough of the language to understand what I was pledging. At that point I determined that while I would stand in respect of the flag of the country in which I was temporarily living (my parent’s idea, certainly not mine!) I would never again say those words.

    Even so, at that age its pretty hard to resist peer pressure and go along with the crowd.

    In retrospect, I find it odd that at no point did any of my teachers say that I did not have to pledge. Some even gave me weird looks when they noticed I wasn’t saying anything (they knew I was foreign), although none actually objected.

  27. howardhershey says

    The really interesting point is that *more* states require time be set aside for the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance today than did so in “the good ol’ days’. Even since 2008, the number of states without mandatory Pledge laws went from 8 to 5. Perhaps he is complaining that not every student is required to do so (court rulings based on the objections of Jehovah Witnesses, not atheists, to such pledges). And do we really want foreign exchange students or non-citizens to be forced pledge our flag (and the Republic it stands for)?

  28. wcorvi says

    I find it interesting that those who rail about banning the pledge imply that it is because of those innocuous two little words, but then, if one favors the pledge WITHOUT those two little words, their rage is even worse! They seem to think that if only everyone in the US were to acknowledge god, that he would smile favorably on our country once again. But their own bible, the inerrant word of god, says that the JEWS are the chosen people, NOT americans. No matter how you cut it, we’re out of luck.

  29. says

    I teach elementary school. I have not said the Pledge personally since I was in 7th grade. I do not force my students to say the Pledge. I’d much rather they work on my morning assignments. Luckily, I can turn off the audio to the announcements. When I forget, some kids stand and recite it. Freedom in the first grade!

  30. says

    We really need a function that replaces the phrase, “back in the good old days,” with “back when my privilege went unquestioned.”

  31. says

    ” If it’s good enough for our money, by golly it’s good enough for our schools.”

    Check your credit card. Check the bank transactions records. Most financial transactions these days aren’t done with cash. So “God” might be good enough to buy a candy bar, show up with enough cash to buy a house, and all of a sudden the IRS and the DEA become interested.

  32. Rey Fox says

    I guess it falls on me to point out that the web site that this screed and poll is on is not from Mississippi, but from a country radio station in Colorado. You can also click to find out what they thought about the gun bill that CO recently passed. (Spoiler: They don’t like it)

  33. peptron says

    A part of me wishes that the US followed the example of where I live (Quebec) and made the switch to a theocratic government. The reason that religion is essencially non-existant in Quebec is because in the past religious institutions were in control of the government and they pushed so hard that they self-destructed. As long as people don’t see the really dark and ugly side of religion, there won’t be an almost universal push to get it out.

  34. says

    From a penny to a $100 bill, “In God We Trust” is clearly marked on every unit of U.S.Currency. If it’s good enough for our money, by golly it’s good enough for our schools.

    This is why I think we need to double down on getting rid of this. It gets used as a lever to inject religion into all kind of places it shouldn’t be. Many atheists think it’s innocuous and we shouldn’t waste our time, but I have always seen it as a gateway violation.

  35. says

    @peptron, #16

    That’s easily explained. The public prayers have always been protestant prayers. The Catholic flavor of the Lord’s prayer differs a little. The Catholic ten commandments differ a little. Catholics have largely been against imposing religion on their kids in public schools. In their own schools they’re cognizant of the fact that some of their students are non-Catholics that are after safety and educational quality and try to keep the conversion pressure subtle if not non-existent.

  36. says

    So of course this law is completely unconstitutional, but I’m thinking, forget about the courts. Not only would it be expensive to sue the state, it would also take a long time, and quite frankly, I don’t have much faith in the courts right now. I know how to get rid of this in about two weeks.

    Even in Mississippi, there has to be a few Muslim kids, yeah? And as long as high school hasn’t changed too much in the last ten years, I’d bet there are a few fluffy bunny baby wiccas running around with Sliver Ravenwolf books hidden in their backpacks. When either a) kids start coming home and telling their parents about the weird prayers ending with “Blessed Be” or b) the non-Christian kids get denied their “right” to pray* and then a court case starts brewing, I estimate maybe a month on the outside before they drop this whole thing.

    *Scare quotes because while non-Christian kids should have the same rights as the Christian kids, I don’t think any person has the right to force their prayers on the rest of the student body, obviously.

  37. says

    This is beyond scary to me. Especially as someone who lives in Mississippi and has a daughter who will most likely attend a public school in a few years. Although, homeschooling is looking like a pretty viable option right about now.

  38. says

    If some form of currency valid in the US did not say “In god we trust”, would theists refuse to use it?

    Yes…yes they would… Do you remember…

    DO NOT ACCEPT THE NEW DOLLAR COINS AS CHANGE…Together we can force them out of circulation.

  39. otranreg says

    So again, if it was deemed so bad for schools, why was [in god we trust] not removed from our currency?

    This is why you need doors, windows and bridges on your currency. They’re tangible, useful, secular, and stylish.

    And, most of all, if they do disappear, education will take a sharp dive indeed.

  40. jnorris says

    My “Good Old Days” in school were segregated “under God” until high school.

  41. jamessweet says

    A part of me wishes that the US followed the example of where I live (Quebec) and made the switch to a theocratic government. The reason that religion is essencially non-existant in Quebec is because in the past religious institutions were in control of the government and they pushed so hard that they self-destructed. As long as people don’t see the really dark and ugly side of religion, there won’t be an almost universal push to get it out.

    Indeed, there is a school of thought (backed up by tantalizing, though by no means conclusive, evidence) that says that religious freedom a la the United States is really good for religion, and that theocracy is really bad in the long term. One might draw a parallel to the success of well-regulated capitalism over authoritarian communism: You don’t have to be a free market fundamentalist to see that competition is often a good thing.

  42. phiwilli says

    I went through Jackson, Mississippi public schools, finishing up just before the days of McCarthy, the civil rights movement, “under God,” etc. and have a good many fond memories thereof. Learning about evolution + the solar system & heliocentrism in about 4th grade, about (8th grade) constitutional balance of powers & having to memorize the preamble + the 1st parts of the Declaration & Gettysburg address, a history teacher who said it was a good thing that the Confederacy lost the Civil War, and (high school) fascination with math, physics, & Latin! No efforts to justify the horrors of slavery, etc. – instead, those things were just ignored; I didn’t know much about them until I got to college and read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Then in the mid-50′s all the latent racism & fundamentalism that had been there all along came out into the open, provoked by the civil rights movement; white citizen’s councils, et al. I haven’t lived there since I left for college in ’54 and have no desire to go back.

  43. says

    Maybe we should just start marking out instances of God on the money we get. I mean, people take crinkled and smudged money already, right? Just tell them you were in an ink explosion at an ink factory. Then, after you cleaned yourself up, you used the free pens the factory gave you to not sue them over the accident to mark out instances of God on your money. Even though I was at first thinking of using a marker, not a pen. I don’t think a pen could mark anything off a penny, anyway. What do they use to make markers, anyway? Oh, they also use ink. Alcoholic ink. So maybe it was an alcohol factory. That might make more sense for the explosion.
    Back on track, I assume if you place a penny in a salt and vinegar solution, the worlds “in god we trust” dissolve. Chemistry makes gods dissolve, right?

  44. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    Growing up in New Brunswick (the province), when I was in middle school, we started each week with the lord’s prayer. I sat down for that part. And got beat up a lot for it, and for being an open atheist. (I’m 29 now.)

  45. Pierce R. Butler says

    As an atheist elitist, I happen to be the proud owner of a $1 bill.

    On the back of same (on the ribbon under the pyramid) I see the words, “Novus Ordo Seclorum”.

    Yep, that last word comes from the same root as “secular”.*

    For all you believers who refuse to carry around this sort of ungodly currency, I’ll be opening up a post-office box where you can send all such Federal Reserve Notes for prompt disposal.

    * literally, “of centuries” – in traditional theo-speak, meaning “temporal” as opposed to “eternal”, or having to do with this material universe rather than that alleged other spiritual one.

  46. Stacy says

    As soon as I learned what “allegiance” meant, I figured that forcing kids to take the pledge of allegiance was ridiculous, because true allegiance can’t be compelled. Making kids recite these words every day was obviously sheer propaganda.

    Fortunately, I grew up in a time and place where nobody gave much of a shit. I mostly didn’t recite the pledge* and nobody cared.

    * IIRC there were brief periods when I talked myself into an idealistic patriotism (heavy on the “liberty and justice for all” part.) At those times I’d recite it and mean it.

  47. David Marjanović says

    And got beat up a lot for it, and for being an open atheist.

    *culture shock*

  48. tallgrass05 says

    Christers are always misleading when it comes to prayer in public schools. Prayer never left public schools. Anyone can pray to any deity at any time they want in a public school.

  49. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    I thought I told you about that, David! The right side of my neck still aches now and then from where the muscle was torn.

    I must have told you about he time some fundie kids tried to stone me (Or just throw rocks, because that’s what you are supposed to do to unbelievers? Nobody said they were bright.), right? It ended with my kicking them down a gravel hill.

    Ahh, good Christian kids.

  50. says

    Reminds me of the good ol’ boy who publicly decried: “If English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for immigrants.”

  51. Sili says

    Dude, have you never noticed that the only countries where schoolchildren recite a pledge are dictatures and the USA?

    Why the stammer?

  52. iknklast says

    I was forced to pray in school. In 1970, my family moved from Maine to Oklahoma. I was in 5th grade. This was years after mandatory prayer had been declared unconstitutional. I’m sure my school knew that, but blithely went on like they always had been. If anyone (else) was bothered, they weren’t going to dare say anything (because…Oklahoma). My parents certainly weren’t bothered by it, and went blissfully about their life content in knowing that their young children were being given a lesson in breaking the law for God (except I didn’t know yet that it was against the law; I learned that later). Being just on the cusp of non-belief, this helped push me over the edge as I watched seemingly sane adults babble away in a silly ritual that made me feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. I couldn’t say anything. My family is both violent and deeply religious. I was 10.

  53. athyco says

    It was in Mississippi as a first-year teacher that I learned–from Jehovah’s Witnesses parents–that the Supreme Court reversed itself only 3 years after first ruling that students could be compelled to participate in the pledge. In 1977, some of those parents remembered the fear directly from early childhood 1940-1943. All of them knew about it as family history as close as their grandparents. One teacher hired two years before me unfortunately shared the surname Birdsong with the Jackson, Mississippi sheriff who forcibly transported a community, even towing their trailer homes across the state line into Louisiana. He’d gotten an earful.

    But I never taught a year without explaining and modeling for my homeroom during the first week that as long as one didn’t disrupt the choice of another, they could do as they liked during the pledge and the moment of silence–including walking into the hallway to retrieve something forgotten in a locker upon hearing the words “Please stand for the pledge.”

    And now, the governor of Mississippi wants to let student volunteers to say a prayer to the captive audience of their peers when one of the many things the JW’s brought court battles for was their right to evangelize? There would be Baptist minds blown when Jimmy comes home talking about there is no everlasting punishment in hell, End Times began in October 1914, or how Memorial is the only annual observance for Christians, not those pagan-tainted Christmas and Easter. When a JW conference in Jackson pulled in almost 10,000 just this past June, the good gov is indeed an idiot.

  54. Ed Seedhouse says

    “If some form of currency valid in the US did not say ‘In god we trust’, would theists refuse to use it? Would carrying it in any way imply that you were an atheist?”

    Well actually, as pointed out above, most of the currency spent in the world today is just numbers debited from one database and incremented in another. And a good thing, too, since commodity money is just silliness.

    As to proving “In God we Trust” can’t be engraved on electrons, first, according to the standard model of physics electrons have no size, being point sources in every experiment yet conducted. Little hard to see how one can encode anything on a mathematical point. Second, most of what goes over the internet goes as photons either via wireless transmitters in the form of UHF radiation or via glass cables in the form of infrared or visible light. These have no size, and moreover they also have no mass. Show me how to carve something on one of them.

    Still if you desecrate the flag in just about every country you risk being put in jail at the very least. If you despoil the symbol of the country you are in trouble. But if you despoil the actuality that the symbol merely represents by, for example, strip mining for coal, you get paid for doing it! And if you are the guy who owns the business that despoils the country you are honored as a patriot and get given millions of these same dollars.

  55. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    When I was in junior high school, the state passed a law mandating a moment of silence at the beginning of the school day. But that wasn’t enough for some people, and so a few years later when I was in high school the law was replaced by another allowing for a voluntary prayer. No one in any of my classes ever took the opportunity, though I did hear of someone who prayed that the stupid law would get overturned in court. Which it soon was, and so thankfully we were left with no prayer, no pledge, and no moment of silence.

    This, by the way, was not in Oklahoma or Mississippi, but in Massachusetts, in the late ’70s.

  56. left0ver1under says

    Don’t get me started on the pledge of allegiance. I started out reciting that thing when I was very young, but got progressively annoyed at the very first line, once my vocabulary was good enough to know what the words meant: I’m pledging allegiance to a flag?

    Robert Hanssen and other spies swore the US’s “pledge” every day. Perjurers swear oaths in court.

  57. says

    “I remember vividly how as a young child my school forced me to sit through the droll anecdotes of that old chucklehead, Paul Harvey.”

    {pedantguy} “droll” means funny. Did you mean “dull”? Or was there an invisible “intended to be” there? {/pedantguy}

  58. David Marjanović says

    I thought I told you about that, David! The right side of my neck still aches now and then from where the muscle was torn.

    :-O

    I must have told you about he time some fundie kids tried to stone me

    …Yes, but I had forgotten about that. On the Internet (indeed in text more generally) I find it very difficult to remember who said what.

    {pedantguy}

    I think it was sarcastic together with “chucklehead” and in deliberate contrast to “forced”.

    Still if you desecrate the flag in just about every country you risk being put in jail at the very least. If you despoil the symbol of the country you are in trouble.

    …That may be what it was like 60 years ago. Even in the US you’re not in legal trouble.

  59. Curt Cameron says

    since it’s Mississippi, you can predict exactly how it’s leaning.

    The story is about a law in Mississppi, but the web site with the poll is K99 – “Colorado’s Best Country.”

  60. stevem says

    re “coins without “In God We Trust”:

    The story, as I understand it, is that the only US coin without “In God We Trust” was the Saint-Gaudens:

    his $20 gold piece, the double eagle coin he designed for the US Mint, 1905–1907, though it was adapted for minting, is still considered one of the most beautiful American coin ever issued. … only 20 or so of these coins were minted in 1907 [-wikipedia]

    As I understand it, the coin, though beautiful, was discontinued because it did not include “In God We Trust” on the obverse, like all the other coins (of the time) [it's there on the converse, though]. But even without that engraving, the coin is still the most sought-out coin of all, even today. Not just by atheists, either.
    I am not a numismatist so “my understanding” is little more than rumor, which you can therefore dismiss, but look into it, just in case.

  61. says

    You poor soul, how life must so pathetic for you. God created you and he will love you no mater what sinful path you take. We will pray that you see the error of your sinful ways and come to Christ your savior.

  62. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    You poor soul, how life must so pathetic for you.

    Gee, my life is fine. Unlike yours, which is full of lies and bullshit, with imaginary deities and mythical/fictional holy books.

    God created you

    What imaginary deity are you talking about? There are over 3,000 of them. Yahweh is nothing but a Johnny-come-lately poser….
    *apologies if you were being sarcastic*, but no smilies were in evidence, just like no evidence for Christ…..

  63. says

    You poor soul, how life must so pathetic for you. God created you and he will love you no mater what sinful path you take. We will pray that you see the error of your sinful ways and come to Christ your savior.

    Meh, Christ isn’t even the best at being a messianic archetype. Guan Yin feels for people so much that when she went to the Avici Hell (for accepting the kharmic burden of her murderer, who had no choice in the matter), she released all her accumulated good karma to save as many sinners as she could from a few thousand years of torment (Buddhist hells aren’t quite as evil as Christian ones). YHWH and Jesus will let those folks rot, because they’re just terrible people. They’re all fictional, but at least Guan Yin isn’t passively or actively evil.

  64. Anri says

    Dave Sanders will now demonstrate the amazing strength his faith has given him by returning to argue his position with the unbelievers!

    Yes!

    Right now!
    He will!

    Vast strength!

    …ultimate power…

    Now!

    …um

    …mighty fortress?
    …armor of the lord?

    *cough*
    /awkward

  65. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    You poor soul, how life must so pathetic for you. God created you and he will love you no mater what sinful path you take. We will pray that you see the error of your sinful ways and come to Christ your savior.

    blah blah blah

  66. Rey Fox says

    I don’t think he was arguing his position with the unbelievers, I think he was just scoring a quick brownie point with the invisible scorekeeper. I mean, he didn’t actually address any of the OP.

    We will pray that you see the error of your sinful ways and come to Christ your savior.

    Boy, I sure wish they’d all just leave it at that.

  67. throwaway, feels safe and welcome at FTBConscience! says

    I’d like to bring up something incredibly dense David Sanders posted on his own BookFace page:

    black panthers are a bunch of pansy wannabes. To damn lazy to do much but talk.

    David wants the Black Panthers to be violent. It’s the only way he can justifiably go on the offensive himself, within the scope of the law as it stands now, at least. He and his ilk are desperately trying to change that.

    Going over much of his other mental diarrhea doesn’t hold much promise if there were an attempt at enlightening his firmly held convictions. They are Fox News in, Fox News out. The only way it’s filtered is through garbled meaning, atrocious spelling, and incomprehensible grammar. I know, I know, it tends to start off that way as well, but only for the purpose of more ready digestion.

    Am I the only one noticing a slight uptick in the “violent revolution” rhetoric on the right lately after Obama thoroughly trounced Romney?

  68. Ogvorbis: Purveyor of Mediocre Humours! says

    Dave Sanders:

    I’m sure you have a vast amount of evidence to support the existence of a god?

    And I know who created me. They live in Maine.