The Ballad Of A Merriken

I’m down at the schoolyard with placard in hand
And I’m trying my best to make kids understand
Though the school may be following the law of the land
The bible has something to say
continues after the jump:

The theories in science the district has taught
Are not properly grounded in biblical thought
And all of your learning will soon come to naught
If you don’t make some changes today!

I’m attending five churches, four services a week
But it’s not just myself whose salvation I seek
I’ve fought for my rights, and I use them to speak
And to give kids protection, I pray

It’s Satan who’s guiding these atheist fools
So I’m picketing daily in front of the schools
And demanding big changes from secular rules
Because it’s the Merriken way

Ed shares with us the story of Kenny Merriken, a peaceful protester with picket sign, who appears to be even more obsessive than I am, which is saying something.

Every weekday morning you can see him along busy West Duval Street. Sign in hand, Kenny Merriken has been picketing the Columbia County School District offices for about four months.

Merriken, 63, also pickets during school board meetings and sometimes on Saturdays if there are cars in the parking lot.

He has had some real adversity in his life (homeless and penniless not long ago), and credits his Christian faith with turning him around. He actually reminds me quite a bit of someone I know in real life, also a Vietnam era vet, also whose religion is credited with helping him (as did a lot of real people, including the VA, but God takes credit for them as well), also who is still a very fragile man who struggles with life. I can’t feel anything but pity for Mr. Merriken, when I see my friend in statements like this:

Merriken said he attends about five churches and sometimes up to four services a week. When he tells area church pastors what he is doing, Merriken said, the pastors tell him to keep up his work and that they are praying for him.

People are sometimes very delicate and breakable–even apparently strong and assertive protesters. Perhaps if we had a better safety net, perhaps if a generation of returning veterans hadn’t been ignored, Merriken might be a completely different person now.

What a waste.


  1. Grep Agni says

    I agree with dingojack ao the first link:

    My immediate reaction is ‘good on him’, he’s completely wrong, but he has the perfect right to make a fool of himself in public, as long as it hurts no one else. He has not threatened nor offered violence to anyone, he has broken no laws in protesting something he feels passionate about. What’s the problem?
    He might be an idiot, but he’s a dedicated, and (dare I say it) principled idiot.

    Yay first amendment!

    On a less important note, what does it mean that he goes to five churches a week but only four services? Or is that four services per church?

  2. Otrame says

    I, too, have no problem with Kenny. He is hurting no one. He is entitled to express his beliefs.

  3. echidna says

    The linked article reads to me as four services a week, among five different churches. The pastors seem to approve of what he is doing.

    The district superintendent, who seems to be fobbing him off (rightly) doesn’t quite get science either:

    Millikin said teachers are clear when explaining the differences between scientific theory, fact and law. “Any scientific theory is just that, a theory.” Evolution is just one of several biological theories the curriculum presents, he said.


  4. Crudely Wrott says

    When he tells area church pastors what he is doing, Merriken said, the pastors tell him to keep up his work and that they are praying for him.

    Paradoxically, this is simultaneously the most and the least that the pastors can do.

    Not that they would notice. They actually think they are doing their utmost. Paradoxically, this is also . . .

  5. says

    When I realize how far God has brought me back from the brink of death, and life as a worthless person, I am humbled. I lay on my sleeping bag, in a ravine 5 miles north of Anse Rouge, Haiti for many days. No one but God knew where I was. Robbed of my money, passport and visa, no identity papers, no Bible, using one tube of toothpaste to decomtaminate the water, no food, reading a devotional in French, with very little hope of ever walking out alive. I asked God, why go on living? His answer: “I am God, I died for your sins. Now get back to society and make me known. I love you and created you in my image.” Philippians 4:13. If anyone doubts me and my efforts to put an end to the teaching of evolution in public schools in Florida, that is OK. Watch and let us see what will happen. Who will be victorious? The God of the Bible, Jesus Christ, or Charles Darwin. Stay tuned. Kenny Merriken

  6. Cuttlefish says

    Mr. Merriken, welcome!

    I hope you can see from the comments here, we support your right to express your beliefs.

    I would argue, though, that the best protection for your beliefs is secularism; if the government (in the form of the schools) were to take sides, one set of beliefs will win, and hundreds or more will lose. The government *must* remain neutral.

    The teaching of evolution in schools is not the result of the government taking sides. It is the result of the scientific community following the evidence. Many (most, I think, but don’t feel like dredging up the numbers right now) churches are perfectly content with the teaching of evolution. If the government were to follow the majority of religious believers, evolution would still be taught, but the government would, in all likelihood, have taken sides *against* your view. Secularism, and the independence of schools (as the representatives of government) from religion, is your friend.

    Religion in healthy in the US precisely because it is separate from government. My atheist (and theist) readers can support your rights, because they are no threat in a secular society. In a theocracy, any faith that is not your own is necessarily your competition, and your enemy.

    I won’t lie to you; I think you are wrong. I was once a born-again Christian (interestingly, I had no problem with evolution–in fact, my mother taught it in her biology classes!), but found different answers–answers supported by evidence–for all the questions that my religion had previously answered. I am glad you find comfort in your faith; I would wish for you the same comfort, but grounded in the real world.

  7. says

    Dear Cuttlefish, It is with deep appreciation and humble gratitude that I say Thank you for publishing “The Ballad of A Merriken” I sent it to my six brothers and sisters who I am sure will catch the play on words by putting the letter “A” capitalized in front of “Merriken”.
    Let me share two very important questions that I have been receiving several excellent, professional, highly intellectual PCSR, (Politically Correct Sidestep Responses) from my local Public School District. This includes silence. Question 1, How did the energy and matter for the Big Bang come into existence? Or to put it another way, how do you get energy and matter out of nothing? Question 2. How do you get life from non-life? (See Lake City Reporter December 6, 2011, page 4A Letter to the Editor addressed to Florida Columbia County School District titled “Quit dodging debate on evolution”). My questions, concerning The Scientific Theory of Evolution, that were sent to the Florida Department of Education, have only PCSR for a reply from Florida DOE. I am from Maryland, do not believe a word I say. Please research it for yourself. (See Acts 17:11). Start with Florida DOE.

  8. Randy says

    Mr. Merriken, I do find your question about “how do you get matter and energy from nothing” to be valid. But if you can ask that why can’t you ask “who or what created God?” There should be nothing wrong with humans using information based on facts and pursuing new knowledge. According to your stradegy, we no longer need to invesigate our origin because it is already explained in the bible. We can both agree thats a book written by men who didnt know what germs were or where the sun went at night. You cannont even imagine the ignorance(lack of knowledge) these people must have felt. Religions are theories just as evolution and the big bang are. If you love your country so much, let our schools and government be neutral. Please dont say the school isnt because they dont teach christianity. Until 85% of the country say they are atheist or go to a building on sundays to gather with people “of the same beliefs” you have now complaint. Religion has been ahead for the last 2000+ years and you see where it has gotten us. Its time for logic and reason to take presidence.

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