New Heights Middle School (SC) still doesn’t get it

So, we moved the blog and I’m sheepish about how to work this new-fangled thang. And Martin sends me a wrist-slap to say (basically), “Hey, you need to get over to the new blog and try it out, you lump!” So, now I’m at the point where I’m thinking “What do I talk about?” And three things immediately spring to mind that merit mention:

1. Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffers’ endorsement of Rick Perry that was just an open promotion to vote on purely religious grounds, completely disregarding or demonstrating unawareness of what “no religious test for office” means, and also no comprehension of the problems that arise from the unholy union of church and state. History alone should be sufficient, but if not, look at the many nations where they are under an active theocracy to get an idea of how well that works.

2. A Muslim Advice website I came across that has both depressed and shocked me. I very strongly suggest everyone go and spend some time there and poke around to see how your life would change if you had to live a Muslim life. Consider what it might be like for people born into Islam (and Muslims believe you are born into it, just like Jews) for whom the indoctrination doesn’t sink in, or who come to a conclusion later that it’s not correct. What would it be like to know this is bullshit and still have to live this life? If I started listing all the letters and answers that disturbed me, this would become the Islamic Critique blog for the next 10 years.

But I’m going with the last one, number 3, because it’s the easiest one to analyze, and as someone who is verbose in the best of cases, this is probably best. It simply doesn’t take a lot of words to describe what is wrong with this: A public school in South Carolina has stepped up to demonstrate, one more time, that Christians in the U.S. South just can’t get certain things to sink into their heads. No matter how many times you trot out their own Golden Rule to them, they seem to have a marked inability to actually understand it. They fully get the first bit, “Do unto others.” It’s the second part that gives them trouble, “as you would have done to you.”

New Heights Middle School in South Carolina brought in a Christian rapper and had the kids rap along about Jesus. Don’t get me wrong. I get that religious bands don’t have to do a show that would be considered religious, but in this case the reports are that it was clearly religious in nature. Is this even rare, though? How many times do we hear about public school sponsored prayers or rallies in the Bible Belt? The two most common criticisms are the illegality of it and the pure lack of understanding by the families that this is even a problem on a basic good will level. Those most likely to comment on these stories with stupidity such as “Good for the school!,” would be the first ones to have a total melt down if the rapper had been promoting some other religious view. So, they appear to “get it” when you put them in the shoes of people outside their religion; but, the moment you put them back in the majority Christian seat, the lesson dissipates like so much smoke into thin air—a sort of religious amnesia?

OK, so let’s try this again, Muslim rapper OK? No, that would be an outrage. Then the Christian rapper is an outrage, get it? No. OK, so let’s try this again, Hindu rapper OK? No, that would be an outrage. Then the Christian rapper is an outrage, get it? No. And so on, and so on, and so on.

This is the danger of “I’m right and they’re wrong” when it comes to religion. It completely destroys perspective and the capacity to judge one’s own behaviors as problematic for others. When something would completely outrage and piss you off if someone else did it, there is no reason it should be a mystery or shock to you when others are outraged or pissed off when you do it to them. It’s just not hard enough to cause this sort of cognitive difficulty. “How would that make YOU feel?” is a tool used to teach toddlers how to think before they act. There is just no explanation for so many adults being unable to grasp such a simple concept. Beyond “it’s not legal,” their own basic human decency should kick in and help them understand what is wrong with what they’re doing. Even their own religion commands them to consider this. They label it their “Golden Rule,” but they still can’t seem to actually understand it. They “get” that the non-Christian thinks, as they do, that the other guy is incorrect (or even just that they could be incorrect), but in their heads, THEY’RE right. And, so, if “I” was wrong, and “you” were right about what god wanted, then I’d want “you” to promote “the truth” to “me.” And so, when it comes to Christian perspectives over those of others, in a nation where a majority is Christian, in a very sick way, they ARE following the Golden Rule—shoving “the truth” down the throats of everyone else who is “wrong” and who needs “the truth.” I think, in a twisted way, they think they’re helping and not being offensive assholes.

Of course, I could be wrong, as someone else suggested on another strand, and they could just be passive-aggressive people who want to piss people off. That certainly wouldn’t be anything new on the religious scene, either.


  1. razzlefrog says

    That’s part of one of the hardest things to effectively communicate to people:

    Your beliefs get a lot of affirmation in the States. You see a lot of churches, you’re used to your religion, and others seem outlandish and weird. Predictably, you’re going to have a skewed perspective. But there is the same elephant in the room for your religion that there is for all the others: Is it true, so as to justify imposing it on the general public?

    Instead of acknowledging this and opting for “agnostic belief”, so to speak, many believers try to cleverly hide their enormous metaphorical religious savannah beast under what is essentially a flimsy kitchen paper towel.

    “Dude. It’s not working. Give it up.”

  2. King of New Hampshire says

    I think it’s more attributable to their victim complex. They have no idea what true religious persecution is, since no Christian has ever experienced it in the US. In the UK, Europe, Africa, many parts of Asia, Christians might be more likely to understand, even if they still act like dicks.

    As an example, I think it was Graham that said hate crime laws intrude on religious freedom and constitute religious persecution. This is a sick perversion of the word better applied to Graham’s fellow bigots that have dragged the corpses of real persecuted people through the streets by chains tied to a truck.

    Instead, Christians constantly claim to be victims, pointing out the crimes of Rome (and they were indeed crimes: vicious, hateful, disgusting crimes against fellow humans), utterly failing to see that Christians have been visiting the same crimes upon others for nearly 2000 years, ever since they wrested control of Roman power.

  3. JoeBuddha says

    Another problem is the religion thing. See, they’re not “practicing a religion”, they’re “dealing with reality”. As a Buddhist, I’m only practicing a religion. As an Atheist, I’m trying to deny what I know deep down is the truth. This is why the “separation of Church and State” doesn’t apply to them.

  4. jacobfromlost says

    I actually tried reverse psychology regarding this issue of separation of church and state with a Christian once…and they still didn’t get the point.

    This person made the argument about the US being a “Christian Nation” based on “Christian principles”, etc, and I first went through the standard “why isn’t ‘god’ in the Constitution”, “why is religion only mentioned to keep it out of government”, and “did you know ‘Nature’s God’ in the Declaration of Independence was the deist god” (along with all the Thomas Jefferson arguments for rationality)…

    …and of course they attempted to oppose me on all of these arguments.

    So then I asked them why the Constitution didn’t just blatantly SAY we are a Christian Nation, make Christianity the state religion, and be done with it.

    Well, that would be bad, they said. Society doesn’t work well, there would be fighting among the religious, etc.

    “Why?” I asked. If the Christian god is real, then all you have to do is mandate laws that force people to be proper Christians in EXACTLY the same way we pass laws to force people to obey traffic laws, not abuse their children, or not wander the local mall naked. IF the Christian god is real, then forcing people to obey his commands, go to Church, etc (in effect, outlawing nonChristian practices), MUST make the country MORE SUCCESSFUL, right? (If doing “nonChristian” stuff causes hurricanes and kills people, we should outlaw nonChristian practices, right?) In exactly the same way as passing laws against assault, theft, kidnapping, polution, or whatever, demonstrably makes society more successful, right?

    The Christian simply would NOT agree with me, while nothing in his previous argument suggested he would disagree with ANY of this. In fact, he was advocating most of those arguments before I simply suggested that if all of his arguments were true, then we SHOULD make this an officially Christian Nation and write it into the Constitution and laws of the land. “What would be the danger?” I asked.

    Then he started making MY arguments. Theocracies. Dictatorships. Men thinking they have the power of god when they don’t, etc.

    But what was MOST annoying is he STILL DIDN’T GET IT, even after I got him to start making my argument for me. He still insisted this was a Christian Nation founded on “Christian Principles”, and didn’t care about the points I made (the same points he made moments later!).

  5. colubridae says

    Speaking of religion in politics. I live in britland. Over here we don’t have such a beast as a respected politician. All we have are varying degrees of disdain, scorn and hatred.
    So why anyone in their right mind would want to ally their religion to politics ‘Passeth all understanding’.
    You won’t score any points. Eventually all you’ll do is connect your religion to the failings of politicians.
    But then ‘not being in your right mind’ is a prerequisite for theism.