North Dakota teacher threatens students with hell

Remember that awful, nonsensical “Letter from Hell” on GodTube? It was a particularly contemptible example of the evangelical impulse — the message was that not only will you suffer horribly in hell if you are naughty, but all your friends will, too…and it’ll be all your fault.

Would you believe a schoolteacher showed that video in a public school?

It’s a patently evangelical video for an especially disgusting version of the Christian cult, it plainly says that its purpose is to “help teens share Christ with their friends,” it was downloaded from Godtube, and it was shown in a class with a Jewish student (the only Jewish family in all of North Dakota*).

The teacher’s excuse? It was intended to show the dangers of drunk driving.

Yeah, right. The reason you shouldn’t drink and drive is that you might end up practicing your penmanship in hell. Isn’t it enough to say that you might end up dead or injured, or you might kill or injure someone else?

Besides, isn’t threatening kids in North Dakota with hell kind of like promising them an upgrade?**

*I probably exaggerate.

**I kid, I kid.


  1. Bad Albert says

    So…no matter how kind I am and how much I might love God, if one of my friends disobeys God I’m going to hell? What a great religion.

  2. says

    The US Bureau of the Census estimates that in 2000 there were 730 Jews living in the state of North Dakota.

    In that same year North Dakota had an estimated 920 Muslim residents.

    I’m sure there are invasion plans somewhere on Bush’s desk.

  3. The Stone says

    Those Talibangelists will lie to your face. I don’t buy for a second she was telling kids about drunk driving. She’s a just a liar plain and simple. Its bizarre how readily the talibangelists will break their own 10 commandments.

  4. Doug and Leila says

    Hey Dr. Myers, I know this doesn’t have anything to do with your blog, but we are currently in the lab working on our zebra fish and can’t seem to get any good graphics of our stained zebra fish with the camera. The image is coming up perfectly on the scope, but we can’t seem, to get anything to come up on the camera. I’m assuming there just isn’t enough light being focused into the camera’s lens as most of it is directed to the scope. Can we change that at all? Any hints as to what might be going on would be great and we thought this would be the best way to get a hold of you.
    – Doug Dutcher

  5. says

    Chris – In the 1970’s the state had so many ICBM silos that if they had seceded and started their own country, they would have been the third most powerful nation on Earth. I grew up a scant 50 miles from a silo, so even in Hallock (pop 1527) we were in a target zone.

    I guess, now that the silos have been filled with concrete it would be safe for George to go in and “Shock and Awe” Ali and Lena.

  6. Matthew says

    Geez, what is it with Americans making fun of North Dakota? You know there’s a fairly sizeable city to the north of there, called Winnipeg.

    Of course, it’s also got slightly fewer fundamentalists, and it was one of the first places in North America with socialized medicine, which I suppose takes the edge off.

  7. says

    And this chowder-headed oaf of a teacher showed this clip of Christian gibberish on the first day of Hanukkah.

    That’s a special kind of Christian tolerance and sensitivity right there.

  8. says

    I’d back a lawsuit against that school. That was specifically targeted at that specific student in that class, and it’s obviously prostelytizing.

    Seriously, lawsuit.

  9. Ferrous Patella says

    “The US Bureau of the Census estimates that in 2000 there were 730 Jews living in the state of North Dakota.”

    I wonder how many of those were stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base.

  10. Carlie says

    And there are plenty of other drunk driving videos right on the internet in the Prelinger archives. A bit old perhaps, and outdated, and hokey, and laughable, but way better than the God video.

  11. says

    As a native of ND, I feel the need to defend my state. ND is not actually hell, but you can get there from Starkweather, ND, where a gateway to hell is actually located. It’s true! It was in the Weekly World News about a decade ago. Of course, Starkweather is very close to my home town of Devils Lake.

    The story is disappointing. When I was in Presbyterian youth group, my high school biology teacher actually came to one of our functions and explained evolution. He was kind of a theistic evolutionist, saying his personal belief was that maybe god got primordial life started, but that was about the extent of his involvement. That kind of idea appealed to me at the time. And during my confirmation class, our pastor (the kind of woman that called a “Walkman” a “Walkperson”) told our class that Genesis was not historically correct and that it should be read as allegory. This made one girl cry because she just couldn’t understand evolution.

    So religion in ND seems to have been taking a greater hold ever since the Devils Lake’s Satan mascot got “expelled.”

    Speaking of Jews, Devils Lake had at least a couple of jewish families. One owned Glickson’s, a department store sadly out of business for many years. My mom told me they would have their …whatever you call jewish religious services…at their homes. This seemed very exotic to me as a kid.

  12. Gilipollas Caraculo says

    The city of Minot (said ‘my-not’), North Dakota, came up with a slogan to promote itself: “Why not Minot?”

    Locals came up with the answer: “The reason is freezin’.”

  13. Gilipollas Caraculo says

    In California, the most effective deterrent to driving drunk may be looking a monthly magazine put out by, and for, the CHP — ‘The Highway Patrolman’. Pay attention to the ‘crispy critter’ pictures. Lots of graphic examples of what happens when cars encounter reality.

  14. says

    I take back what I said, Minot is actually hell on earth. I lived there for six months. There is nothing appealing at all about Minot. “Magic City” my ass.

  15. Janine says

    Troy McClure: What a terrible waste… Hi, I’m actor Troy McClure! You might remember me from such driver’s ed films as “Alice’s Adventures Through The Windshield Glass” and “The Decapitation of Larry Leadfoot.” For the next sixty minutes, we’ll be seeing actual film of car crash victims.

  16. Casey says

    It pisses me off how the article emphasizes that the big problem with this was that there was a jewish girl in the class, as if it would be perfectly acceptable to show this to a roomfull of “children of christian parents”. This totally misses the point that we have a secular school system and this kind of thing is not allowed, no matter who is in the classroom.

  17. dogmeatib says

    There are 730 people in North Dakota?

    He didn’t say people he said Jews. From what I’ve heard about North Dakotans, they get a bit lonely in the long winter months, it wouldn’t be unheard of for them to make certain that their sheep, cattle, and other livestock convert to their various religions. ;o)

    My dad was stationed in North Dakota when he was in the service, called Minot, “Mind Rot.” I’ve had a hard time not calling it that since I was about 4.

    Also, didn’t North Dakota have some sort of campaign for a name change because their governor claimed that the “north” part of it suggested that the state was cold and barren? The cows frozen to death where they stood had nothing to do with that, it was the name NORTH!!!

    We should just give the state to Canada, at least they’d get medical care, and they’d seem tropical to some Canadians.

  18. Sastra, OM says

    Jesus Fucking Christ, I finally went and watched that video. Oh, well, yes, I suppose it might be seen as being just a tad religious. You could interpret it that way. But there’s that 10 second photograph of a car crash, so maybe it’s like putting a plastic reindeer in the manger: now it’s safe for City Hall and public school.

    The entire purpose of the “Letter from Hell” video of course is to guilt and hector teenagers into “witnessing” to their friends — or family, or that “little girl playing in the street” (go ahead Jason, maybe someone won’t call the cops.) If you fail to do this, you’re being derelict in your duty. Right.

    It reminded me of a passage from Bob Price’s wonderfully funny The Reason-Driven Life, which is his point-by-point rebuttal to the abysmally silly The Purpose-Driven Life. On the subject of witnessing, he writes:

    Indeed, all such obnoxious evangelism sends one clear message, and it’s not what the witness thinks it is. As soon as you knock on that door, pass out that tract, turn a casual conversation to matters of private faith, what you are really saying is, “Why don’t you become a vexing fanatic like me?” This is certainly one case where, as Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” I don’t care what you say about the virtues of the gospel, the glories of the redeemed life; the very fact that you are pitching this message that no one asked to hear is communicating something else: “I’m a nut, and you can be one, too!” Most people have a hard time mustering the courage to witness to someone precisely because they fear they will come across as a nut. And they are right! That is exactly how they come across!”

    He goes on to argue that sure, it can get results — but it’s “unhealthy growth, like that of a cancer.”

    Price is great. And this book would make such a wonderful Christmas gift! Let’s take up a collection and send it to those poor kids who had to sit through this incredibly cheesy, manipulative video. Though after watching it, I have trouble thinking they’d need anything else to turn them against Christianity.

  19. The Reverend says

    There are two Dakotas. So? Dakota and No! Dakota.

    A cousin of mine, from the Bottineau area, told me the reason it is so windy in North Dakota. Minnesota sucks and Montana blows.

    Maybe the wind is blowing their brains out causing ‘toxic evangelist brain mist.’

    I’ll call and ask him.

  20. says

    Trifling correction: PZ says “evangelical” a couple of times where I think he means “evangelistic” (though, yes, it’s evangelical too).

    Evangelistic: concerned with spreading Christianity.

    Evangelical: pertaining to a particular variety of Christianity, one that talks a lot about the Bible and individual salvation (or, in this case, damnation), makes a big deal about doctrine and doesn’t care much for ritual.

    The video is both “evangelical” and “evangelistic”. Also “loathsome”, “stupid” and “deranged”.

  21. mothra says

    While I hate to admit that Jesus camp was also filmed in my (otherwise Great) state of ND. We have wind, but no Ventura or Pawlenty. Sure we can have evenings of 30 below for a week- even with global warming, but the city of Minneapolis probably has more murders per year than the state of ND has in five years. While I am NOT a republican, our state serves as a refugium for the last few leftwing repubs. We can boast a few republicans holding state offices who are not raving loonies or blithering idiots. Our half sister state of SD cannot make this claim.

    Seriously though, the great thing about ND- one can still easily access natural area containing species which while rare or endangered elsewhere, are here still common to locally abundant. North Dakota is probably one of the best places in the nation for studying biogeography first hand in that the complete fauna and flora of the state is adventive within the last 8,000 years. The lab is everywhere, but in one lifetime, I can adequately cover only the moths. Too many species, sooo little time.

  22. Rey Fox says

    I’m really sort of torn as to whether this was malice or stupidity.

    Yes, yes, I’m aware it could be both.

  23. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    Religiously challenged teachers should have their own much coveted Trophy. For example a teddybear whom the pupils can give a name. Or make it a teddyoctopus, to be worn on the head.

  24. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    Religiously challenged teachers should have their own much coveted Trophy. For example a teddybear whom the pupils can give a name. Or make it a teddyoctopus, to be worn on the head.

  25. Janine says

    I’m really sort of torn as to whether this was malice or stupidity.

    Yes, yes, I’m aware it could be both.

    Posted by: Rey Fox | December 8, 2007 3:08 PM

    I would go with stupidly malicious.

  26. Carlie says

    While I hate to admit that Jesus camp was also filmed in my (otherwise Great) state of ND.

    To be fair, though, not all of it was. It took me over a year to screw up the stomach to watch it (the theme is basically a documentary of my life; if I hadn’t become an evilutionary scientist I would have been that church camp leader woman someday), and then the opening scene almost made me throw up because it was my old stomping grounds in Missouri and I WAS NOT expecting to see that.

  27. noncarborundum says

    There are 730 people in North Dakota?

    He didn’t say people he said Jews.

    Note: JC was joking. S/he knows the figure refers to Jews, but expresses surprise that there could even be that many people in ND, let alone Jewish people.

  28. says

    Oh man, not only the teacher is fucked, the school board is fucked:

    This is an excerpt from their policy on discrimination (you can find the entire thing here

    Discriminatory Harassment Defined
    Speech or other expression constitutes prohibited discriminatory harassment if it:
    a. Is intended to insult or stigmatize an individual or a small number of individuals on the basis
    of their race, color, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, or disability;
    b. Is addressed directly to the individual or small group of individuals whom it insults or
    c. Makes use of insulting words or nonverbal symbols commonly understood to convey direct
    hatred or contempt; and
    d. Creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive learning environment for the individual or small
    group of individuals.

    The complete lack of mention of religion in this policy is going to come back to bite them in the ass. I really hope the ACLU, ADL, or some other organization picks up on this and sues them for every cent they’re worth. I want to see some careers destroyed.

    By th way, a complete list of policies can be found on the school board’s website here:

  29. says

    Disgusting! That video doesn’t say one thing about “don’t drink and drive,” it only talks about Jesus! And it also says that even little girls “not old enough to know the Savior” go to hell also. This is reprehensible!

    And what’s up with the “Here’s the [fictional] letter in its entirety”? Isn’t that like saying “This is a true fake story”?

    That teacher was driving drunk in class, if you ask me. And don’t ask me what I think of the drooling morons who made this video in the first place.

  30. MS says

    Ugh, a video loaded with tripe. I’d be furious if any younger relative of mine was forced to endure that. It’s specifically designed to disturb the minds of youth. Evil in every sense.

  31. noncarborundum says

    I swear I read this as “Maggot City”.

    This reminds me of the days when my son used to refer to the kids’ show “Magic Schoolbus” as “Maggot Schoolbus”.

  32. Don Cates says

    re: #35

    The complete lack of mention of religion in this policy is going to come back to bite them in the ass.

    Doesn’t “disablity” cover that?

  33. andy says

    I have a Godtube account! Wait… I think it’s My Holy Space… or it’s probably both? I have them with the same e-mail address as my porn accounts, you know, to balance everything out. Makes me feel less guilty. Been time since I checked them out, though. I have gotten some invitations from some horny Christian girls. Wait… or are those from my porn accounts? Oh crap I forget.

    **I kid, I kid.

    You kid because you looove.

  34. LeeLeeOne says

    Has no one ever heard of – Mott? This is not Minot but Mott? I knew quite a few students who came from this area when I attended NDSU and UND, they always seemed never to defend their “home town.”

    Yes, minRot. But there’s another. If I remember correctly “Mott’s the Spot” was the original slogan. These students added to this, “Mott’s the Spot that god left there to rot.” Apparently at this time they had 5 churches and 6 bars. Ah, such competition!

    That aside, the ACLU really needs to look at the actions of this “capital city” very seriously. From the looks of things, one can be assured that there is much more “covert” christian-speak than meets the eye. This particular family had the guts to speak out. Now they will most assuredly get a huge backlash for speaking up. (You should see what happens to other people when they speak up in this community. Something you will never read in the Bismarck Enquirer…. um I mean Bismarck Tribune.)

    The Bismarck teacher needs to be fired (notice I did not say reprimanded, but FIRED). However, the state board which “allowed” that teacher to even open the door to show anything of that blatantly christian-proselytizing nonsense disguised as “effects of alcohol while driving” needs to be fired or have the ACLU really test their “faith.”

    Go – ACLU – GO FOR IT!

  35. says

    I’ve heard of Mott. I don’t think Devils Lake had a motto, but we did change the lyrics to “Paradise City” to reflect it.

    “Take me down to the Devils Lake city/
    where the grass is brown and the girls are shitty…”

  36. Marion Delgado says

    Watch that video then re-read 1984. I think you’ll see a lot of the fundie God in Big Brother and a lot of fundie xianity in the party. Hell is Room 101, and you’re “saved” (and then wait for death) once you can actually see that 2+2=5. And you love Big Brother. Orwell was very parsimonious.

    People get sidetracked by “IngSoc” – the Nazis called theirs the National Socialist German Workers Party – and turned the country over to rich families, multinational corporations, the military-industrial complex, and the churches. The Eurasian variety of OC was undoubtedly Stalinism, but IngSoc could just as well be fascism. And the Chinese totalitarians could just as well have been Chiang Kai Shiek as Mao Tse Tung followers.

    But I always thought 1984 had an undercurrent of parable, just like Animal Farm. And the parable is about the God (and his fairly openly Death Squad angels) of that video

  37. kurage says

    The entire purpose of the ‘Letter from Hell’ video of course is to guilt and hector teenagers into ‘witnessing’ to their friends — or family, or that ‘little girl playing in the street’

    Huh. I thought it was a romantic tragedy with overtones of horror, in which the deceased Josh learns in the afterlife that his erstwhile lover, Zack, was having a long-term affair with a man named Jesus, and berates him for his unfaithfulness from beyond the grave.

    . . . Guess I got that one wrong.