Kids, you’re our only hope

I’ve been noting for years that the Christian right has been highly effective at packing school boards and city councils with idiots, primarily people who have made the Bible or Capitalism their god. It’s a tactic that works, since it’s a way to let a minority’s nonsensical perspective dominate community life. It allows them to introduce the most astonishing — and illegal — bullshit into the public schools.

Between calculus and European history classes at a West Virginia public high school, 16-year-old Cameron Mays and his classmates were told by their teacher to go to an evangelical Christian revival assembly.

When students arrived at the event in the school’s auditorium, they were instructed to close their eyes and raise their arms in prayer, Mays said. The teens were asked to give their lives over to Jesus to find purpose and salvation. Those who did not follow the Bible would go to hell when they died, they were told.

This isn’t just a West Virginia thing. I’ve lost touch with my local public school since all my kids graduated and got the hell out of town, but the local schools would pull this kind of stunt all the time. There are traveling evangelical Christian groups all over this state that make money by billing schools to put on “wholesome” or “moral” assemblies — see You Can Run But You Cannot Hide ministries, which has the goal To reshape America by re-directing the current and future generations both morally and spiritually through education, media, and the Judeo-Christian values found in our U.S. Constitution. They’re a known hate group, but they still manage to slither into our schools, and he’s still got a Christian talk radio show.

What they don’t take into account, though, is we can still get the kids. They’re too smart, and can see right through all that.

The Huntington High School junior sent a text to his father.

“Is this legal?” he asked.

The answer, according to the U.S. Constitution, is no. In fact, the separation of church and state is one of the country’s founding basic tenets, noted Huntington High School senior Max Nibert.

“Just to see that defamed and ignored in such a blatant way, it’s disheartening,” he said.

Nibert and other Huntington students staged a walkout during their homeroom period Wednesday to protest the assembly. More than 100 students left their classrooms chanting, “Separate the church and state” and, “My faith, my choice.”

A West Virginia school had a walkout led by the students to protest the willful insertion of evangelical Christian propaganda in their school. Let that sink in, preachers. Your message isn’t persuading the youth, it’s alienating them. Good.


  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 2

    But can they win? I fear that their are sadly more fascist, Bible-humping, Karens than their are Blue Moms. Also, the way things are going it will soon be unsafe to speak out against policies backed by the Proud Boys, Oathkeepers, and other armed fascist thugs the Democrats are too cowardly to get rid of.

  2. says

    This is one place where internet social media is helping – at least kids are not entirely controlled by their parents’ views. In fact they may be reading instagram feeds that are anti-religious or anti-totalitarian. It’s a grab-bag out there and I suspect it’s mostly the adults reaching for the shittier content.

  3. robro says

    Yes “we” can win. There aren’t more of them. They are just a very vocal minority, and sometimes violent. They are aroused and organized. My guess is that most people are neutral-ish. What these folks decided is to be vocal too and push back. If we throw in the towel, it doesn’t matter if the Luddites are a small minority.

  4. says

    It’s weird to me that the people who most profess faith are also the same people who are so insecure that they can’t handle someone disagreeing with them. To my mind, if you’re dependent on other people’s agreement, whatever it is you’ve got, it’s not faith.

  5. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 4

    Each and every time I hear someone placing their bets on the youth to fix out civilization, I have to roll my eyes. That’s what they said about the Boomers. That’s what they said about Millennials. Meanwhile things are only getting worse. What ever progressive inclinations one has in their youths are usually stripped away as the hard necessity of finding a respectable (or in many cases, viable) place in society.

    You wanna a job? Better give up those Marxist tendencies. You want to fit in around town? Better go to church and behave like everyone else. Sooner or later, the desire to defend whatever perks you’ve gotten requires you to look at anyone different with suspicion and hatred. Shit out some kids, and the cycle begins again.

  6. PaulBC says

    Over 30 years ago, when I was doing a really terrible job as a junior grad student teaching computer programming at a state university, one of my students (diligent with a B average) asked if he could invite a guest speaker to talk about creationism. He must have made it sound less blatant than this. I politely turned him down and just found the request very strange (and inappropriate and probably something I ought to be fired for if I did).

    My hunch so many years later is that my youth, poor preparation, and chaotic administration of the class probably marked me as a likely target for predation. In fact, I’m not as vulnerable as all that (as one of my students then put it, as rumors have it, “Paul’s a fuckup but he’s not dumb.”) I wonder how common it was and still is for evangelicals to hoodwink whoever they can into giving them a platform.

  7. tacitus says

    It’s weird to me that the people who most profess faith are also the same people who are so insecure that they can’t handle someone disagreeing with them.

    It’s because their religious faith is little more than a prop (in both senses of the word) used to justify their political ideology. When you live in a rightwing Christian echo chamber, you typically don’t need anything else, so when you’re suddenly presented with reasonable objections that have nothing to do with religion, you have nothing concrete to fall back on, and the natural instinct is to lash out and cry persecution.

    I’d wager a considerable sum that if you presented a thousand conservative Christians with utterly incontrovertible evidence that while Jesus was indeed the son of God who died for their sins, he was dead set against every rightwing conservative belief they cherished, and they were forced to choose between Christianity and conservatism, barely a handful would choose to remain Christian.

    To be fair, the same would happen with liberal Christians if the positions were reversed, which all goes to show, no matter how faithful people believe themselves to be, political ideology by far the more fundamental driving force in most religious people’s lives.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    Fortunately the crooks have poor psychological insights. Their interventions are so heavy-handed that a sound, rebellious teenager will go against them just for sheer bloody-mindedness.

  9. tacitus says

    I wonder how common it was and still is for evangelicals to hoodwink whoever they can into giving them a platform.

    I don’t think much hoodwinking is involved when the teachers are mostly likely evangelicals themselves and are used to the spectacle of youth focused ministries rolling into town on a regular basis. The very prospect of playing a small part in bringing one of their students “to the Lord” is likely enticement enough.

  10. brucegee1962 says

    @7 Akira MacKenzie,

    Re: Liberal Boomers. I don’t accept the narrative that the Boomers started off as liberal, then shifted over to conservatism as they grew older. I think they’ve actually been fairly consistent throughout their life cycle — it’s the parties that have shifted.

    The main political factor that motivated them during their formative years was being anti-government — mainly due to not wanting to get blown up in Southeast Asia. This was at a time when the Democrats were channeling the anti-government mantra, and the Republicans were pro-government, pro-science, pro-higher education, and pro-all things establishment.
    Reagan was responsible for grabbing the anti-government banner from the Democrats and carrying it higher and farther, and that’s when the Boomer party shift began. Of course, Reagan didn’t actually want to blow up the establishment, but it was only a matter of time before someone came along who did. Meanwhile, now it’s the Democrats who are saying government, science, and academic expertise can solve problems.

  11. PaulBC says


    I don’t accept the narrative that the Boomers started off as liberal, then shifted over to conservatism as they grew older.

    I don’t think it’s about liberalism per se, just that many people stop being “anti-establishment” once they realize that they are the establishment. (And they’re even more insufferable when they don’t realize it, when it’s obviously true. Like Fox commentators blasting “mainstream media”) I’m on the cusp but identify as Generation X, but I see it in myself. The fact is that if the stock market crashes, I get wiped out. I don’t want a revolution. No the status quo has been very very good to me.

    Anyway, the grown-up Boomers aren’t so different from “liberals” when Phil Ochs was singing “Love Me, I’m a Liberal.” The conflict is really between those who are heavily invested in the system continuing to function (more or less) and those who believe they’d benefit from disrupting it. I make no pretense about which side I fall on.

  12. PaulBC says

    tacitus@12 True enough, and maybe this particular student misjudged my religious views (which he couldn’t have known either way). This wasn’t a very religious environment and I remember being shocked as an undergrad to find students around me who took creationism seriously.

  13. Susan Montgomery says

    @14. If you want to actually achieve anything you kinda have to be “the establishment”.

  14. PaulBC says

    Susan Montgomery@16 Maybe so, but some people may seek to overthrow the existing establishment first. That’s the part the worries those who are already in good shape.

  15. brucegee1962 says

    PaulBC, like you, the establishment has been good to me. But Trump voters really seem to want to burn it all down. Demographically, a lot of them seem to be Boomers, so it makes me wonder if their desire to burn it all down has continued unabated since their draft dodging days.

    It seems to me that what has really changed in the past decade has been the attitudes towards the institutions that make up the establishment — namely, academia, medical experts, the press, voting officials, government, and the scientific community. Growing up in the seventies and eighties, my memory is that the establishments in both parties largely supported these institutions. The idea of one party actively trying to dismantle all of these institutions seems deeply disturbing to me.

    The other day I heard an anecdote about how a lot of new-age, meditation-minded, natural healing folks are getting caught up with QAnon. It’s the same sort of trip over the edge.

  16. Susan Montgomery says

    @17 which would be better – reforming the existing establishment or burning it all down and starting new? We’ve badly shaken it from the left and look where that got us. Who would benefit most if it all went away?

  17. PaulBC says


    But Trump voters really seem to want to burn it all down. Demographically, a lot of them seem to be Boomers, so it makes me wonder if their desire to burn it all down has continued unabated since their draft dodging days.

    That presupposes they were ever part of a serious counterculture movement. I’m not saying they didn’t listen to the same music and smoke pot, but were they really trying to burn it down?

    Trumpism can maybe not be explained entirely by racism (though I wonder). The most neutral explanation I have read is the fear of a loss of status (which goes hand in hand with the former). There is no question that US establishment culture is very different from what it was even 25 years ago when DOMA had bipartisan support of “very serious people” let alone 50 years ago.

    People my age and older who are into guns, survivalism, and other libertarian fantasies, may be better at fooling themselves into thinking that they will thrive in the absence of “academia, medical experts, the press, voting officials, government, and the scientific community.” If you asked me two years ago if I thought that extended to medical experts, I would assume that enough of them were being treated for age-related health conditions to trust their doctors at least, but the pandemic has persuaded me otherwise.

    So I think what they’re burning down is not their accumulated assets in the form of (at least) residential real estate if not retirement accounts. Of course, the crypto nuts and gold bugs may not be as dependent on the stock market. But for whatever reason, I’m sure that the “burning” is not going to touch those things in their mind. What they want to burn down is a culture in which they are no longer the unquestioned dominant group. That they may be leading a materially comfortable life is not enough. The perceived loss of status is what rankles.

  18. Akira MacKenzie says

    The last six years have left me throughly black-pilled. Things are NOT getting better, if anything they are going to get worse and worse. The fascists are winning while Democrats/liberals wring their hands about what to do about them—something they wouldn’t be worrying about if Clinton hadn’t hide under his desk after Waco and Oklahoma City rather than using the police and military to wipe out the gun nuts, militia kooks, and white supremacists. Now, that cowardice is liberal naivety is coming around to bit us. Now the right stands ready to kill us and drag our civilization back into barbarism. All that senile, dotard Biden will do is smile sheepishly for the cameras while Garland twiddles his thumbs.

  19. PaulBC says

    Akira MacKenzie@22 I remember seeing David Duke’s web page in 1996, then very cutting edge stuff for wingnuts, but I laughed, assuming he was desperate for attention (posting movie reviews among other things) and on the way out. He’s still around. The joke is on me. I also remember seeing and being horrified by Stormfront, but again thinking it was a fringe phenomenon like Sasquatch chasers.

    Things are just a lot worse now. I have also stopped waiting for the “kids” to rescue us, though I have some wonderful millennial nieces and nephews, and my kids are approaching adulthood. The white supremacists are also indoctrinating the youth. This isn’t going to be solved by a bloodless geriatric die-off, as appealing as that once seemed to me.

    As for ordinary Boomer resentment, some of that could be gleaned from trends going back decades. Falling Down (1993) is a classic of the disaffected white American genre. What gets me more than anything is how much Trump’s campaign in 2016 managed to recycle issues that anyone paying attention had already known about for nearly 40 years. We’ve been saying “Rust Belt” for a long time, and Billy Joel even had a hit with Allentown in the early 80s. It threw me for a loop that this was somehow news to people.

  20. says

    Coerced christianism (sic) is probably second only to reading the bible yourself (and not having it read to you) for facilitating atheism.

  21. says

    …and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is pushing a slate of bills called the Stop W.O.K.E. Act that would give nearly anyone the right to sue schools and teachers over what they teach, based on student discomfort.

    Well, there’s our solution right there: start filing lawsuits as soon as LGBT, non-Christian or nonwhite students start expressing discomfort from all the fascist bullshit flooding the schools.

  22. blf says

    @22, [Use] the police and military to wipe out the gun nuts, militia kooks, and white supremacists.

    You are aware “teh police” are heavily infiltrated by shooty mcshootfacers, pretend-military kooks, and racists, aren’t you — those very same groups you want to extrajudicially execute. Extrajudicial executions by using the military on are what are, by and large, domestic civilians — in the process very likely destroying critical infrastructure (roads, bridges, and so on). And ignoring or pretending such actions won’t “recruit” other kooks. Cue repeating cycle.

    This isn’t the first time you’ve advocated for extrajudicial execution, etc., i.e., for adopting and using the very tools of the authoritarian state that you claim using those tools will prevent happening.

    You seem as deranged as our other Democratic-hating kook, albeit unlike that other one, you don’t (yet) seem to be a (possibly-paid) Putin troll. But you are fecking close with your constant ranting about unleashing the military on domestic nutcases, your calling such actions necessary, and your constant blaming of the need for such actions exclusively on the Democrats.

    The real world’s problems are not solved by your wannbe-nazi fantasy. Stop insisting that it would be.

    And don’t give me any fecking garbage like when hair furor is reelected don’t say you weren’t warned (like you did in another thread to someone else quite recently after being told about these same things, only politer). The warning I’m getting here, loud and clear, is to stay the feck away from you.

  23. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ blf

    Once again, I’m hearing from a self-described liberal the same tired refrains I’ve hear from the right: Wanting to end fascism makes YOU the fascist. Anti-racism is the real bigotry. I’m not the totalitarian, YOU’RE the totalitarian!

    But tell me, what’s your bloodless solution to end the inevitable Republican/fascist takeover? Does it involve a campfire, a guitar tuned for a rousing chorus of “Kumbaya,”, and some kombucha? Another rap session where we try to get the Nazis and the Oathkeepers to talk about their feelings so we can understand them? Is there a “hip” high school counselor sitting backwards on a chair?

    If so, I gotta warn you, the people you’d trying to reach do not respect that. They don’t care about empathy. They don’t care about kindness. You can Care Bear Stare at them until the sun goes red giant and they will still be fascists. They will still want to kill everyone who doesn’t fit their idea of a red-blooded white, male, cis-heterosexual, Christian American. Given the way Biden is doing in the polls, a future where they get to do that is certain, especially if things in the police and the military are as bad as you say they are. Call me selfish, but I REALLY don’t fancy dying at their hands.

    If that attitude makes me “deranged” and too scary to be around, fine. I’m used to being alone and not being taken seriously, but don’t you fucking tell me I’m going too far when the libs can only offer solutions straight from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood while the Right has spent decades gathering supporters, arms, and resources to make their aims a reality.

    Bottom line: I’m fucking terrified. I want this insanity over with, but those responsible for it MUST be punished first. If not, they’ll just start the madness all over again.

  24. Rob Grigjanis says

    Akira @27:

    Wanting to end fascism makes YOU the fascist.

    If you want to “end” fascism by exterminating a significant percentage of the population, yes, it does make you a fascist. Still, I’d love to see the details of your final solution. No doubt you’d be looking for the most efficient way to exterminate them. A bit of research into recent history might help. Say, the last 80-90 years,

    BTW, didn’t you used to be one of these fascists? You have no problem with snuffing out a bunch of younger versions of yourself?

  25. VolcanoMan says

    If things are getting worse in America, it’s not because of conservatives – it’s because of the cowardice and complacency of the Democratic Party. They did not see the GOP as an existential threat to the nation (well, to national stability and the continuity of democracy), but that is indeed what the last decade (since the start of the Tea Party) has shown us. Nonetheless, while the authoritarians have had some victories of late, they remain a minority. Authoritarianism can only take hold in America if the majority of people just…accept it, if they decide that the (rigged) system itself is a legitimate way to acquire power, and that those who have power also have the right to use it to oppress others and enrich themselves.

    Personally, I think that minorities in America have more chance of being treated fairly now than at basically any time in history (perhaps slightly worse than pre-Trump, but I am encouraged by the attitude of young Americans, who are derided as “woke” by the right). So it’s not all doom and gloom. The problem is that to make further progress, we need to give white Democrats a reason to fight – if they’re not being affected by the rising authoritarianism in America, they won’t see it as a problem they should care about (same with issues like climate change and police brutality). Personally, I believe that until these people are seriously harmed by the rigged system that legitimizes the American political class, until they see their own short and long-term prosperity as threatened, I don’t think we’re going to see a change. The individualism that makes American culture unique is going to bring America to its knees, and I cannot see a way to alter this course. Late-stage capitalism is still basically working for these people (or maybe I should say they BELIEVE it’s still working, the solution to their woes and not the cause…unfortunately, propaganda works, and not enough people know that the system they are helping to prop up is functioning exactly as intended, driving more and more wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer people). By the time there is enough momentum to create a will to revolt and start anew, the decline and possible extinction of the human race will likely be set in stone.

  26. magistramarla says

    This happened in the high school in which I taught in Texas. The new head of our foreign languages department, an evangelical christian, arranged one of these “assemblies” for our department.
    It happened to be the day that my Latin classes were scheduled to present their final projects for that semester. I had everything that we needed requisitioned and set up for that day, so I simply ignored her mandate and remained in my classroom, with my students happily presenting their PowerPoint presentations, models,etc.
    Several of my students were not christian and were grateful that I didn’t choose for our classes to attend the religious rally
    The same department head was unhappy with me because I refused to participate in her “meet you at the flagpole” weekly prayer session. She was much of the reason that I encouraged my husband to apply for the opportunity to seek his PHD so that I could leave that school and the state of Texas..
    I also had an exchange student who had a run-in with one of the coaches. Apparently, the coach tried to force her to recite the pledge of allegience every day. She was a citizen of a European country, for crying out loud! Her PE and Latin II class times were switched. She was much happier with me. She probably noted that I used the time for the pledge and “moment of silence” to take and record attendence.
    These tactics are rampant in Texas!

  27. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ Rob Grigjanus

    BTW, didn’t you used to be one of these fascists?

    Yes, I don’t deny my right,wing past. I spewed racism,sexism, homophobia/transphobia, capitalism, and theism; by my own present criteria, I’d call myself a “fascist.”

    You have no problem with snuffing out a bunch of younger versions of yourself?

    Rob, I tell you truthfully, if time travel were a thing I’d book myself a one-way trip back to my sophomore year in high school when I really started to become an obnoxious Catholic Republican snot and put a bullet in me.

  28. unclefrogy says

    every time I hear someone say this or that about some arbitrary grouping of people, like boomers or millennial i stop they might as well be talking about race as not. It is irrational and betrays their ignorance and the tendency toward bigotry.
    No grouping as broad as that can be blamed for what ever you feel like. it is BS.
    While I understand the feelings you have expressed I see little difference between you and the other blood thirsty radicals,
    when the killing starts I probably wont be in the first wave but I doubt very much I will be spared the honor.

  29. F.O. says

    Wait, if it’s illegal, why can they do it and get away with it?
    To me it seems like there is a deeper problem here.

  30. says

    …but were they really trying to burn it down?

    Nope. Absolutely not. All the talk of “revolution” was, at worst, romantic airheaded nonsense. Right-wingers like George Will have been screaming about how all those hippie anarchists almost destroyed civilization as we knew it in 1968, and it was all just hysterical lies.

  31. PaulBC says

    Raging Bee@36 George Will is an asshole, and the “moral relativism” complaint never made any sense to me. I can think of nothing more morally absolute than the premise that bigotry is wrong (Civil Rights movement) or that human lives are human lives whether they’re American or “our enemies.” The 60s was driven by idealism, and a reaction against the shallow materialism of the post-WWII generation, focused on bigger cars, bigger houses, and corporate titles. Burning of draft cards was not a burning of governance in the abstract, but of one specific injustice that directly affected the well-being of those doing the burning.

    I suppose there were nihilists in the mix as well, but the Boomer generation (and I’m just a little younger) was for the most part less interested in burning down the system than in working within it to improve lives. As a caveat, I will add that I think they oversimplified the challenge ahead. Also, I’m not a huge fan of 90 is the new 70 is the new 50. I am not even questioning the ability of older people to continue in leadership roles, just that they are hogging opportunities that in past generations would have gone to younger people.

  32. KG says

    I don’t accept the narrative that the Boomers started off as liberal, then shifted over to conservatism as they grew older. – brucegee1962@13

    Nor do I, at least as far as the UK is concerned. According to the best figures I have, the two youngest groups able to vote in 1979 and 1983 (18-24 and 25-34, which approximates to “Boomers” on both dates) voted for Thatcher in almost the same proportion as the electorate as a whole. Actual left radicals (Marxists, anarchists, etc.) among the Boomers gained a lot of attention, but constituted a small minority.

  33. KG says

    Further to #39,
    By contrast, consider the figures from the 2019 UK general election;

    for every 10 years older a voter is, their chance of voting Tory increases by around nine points, and the chance of them voting Labour decreases by eight points.

    This steep age gradient (which was replicated in the referendum on the EU in 2016, and the Scottish independence referendum in 2014) is new: there was some tendency for older voters to be to the right of younger in the period up to 2010, but much less so than in the past decade. So as far as the UK is concerned, the “kids” are indeed our only hope.