Saturday, June 02, 2007

Perils of the Backpack

A reader, amarullis, pointed me towards this article:

Quotes from the article are in red. My reaction is in black.
“Backpack mail” systems are common in public schools. Albemarle uses it to advertise extra-curricular activities such as children’s theater, summer camps and recreational sports events.
The Albemarle School District previously had a sensible policy barring “distribution of literature that this for partisan, sectarian, religious or political purposes,” but it was revised at the behest of the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty Counsel to allow religious content."

Our elementary school used to use this system. And, boy did the Christians take advantage of it! For a while, there wasn't a week that did not pass without some invitation to a youth group or "Kids Carnival" (conveniently thrown by a church). I finally got tired of it, as did others, and we managed to get the practice stopped.
Now... in this article, it seems like the Christians (Falwell's breed, in particular) wanted this system set up. One imagines it was to broaden their fishing grounds.

Liberty Counsel relied on a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling earlier in 2006 that public school districts do not have “unbridled discretion to deny access to the oft-used forum” because that would not “ensure the requisite viewpoint neutrality.”
So, the Religious Right got want they wanted from the federal courts (the same federal courts they accuse of “kicking God out of the public schools”) and now they’re hopping mad…again.

Who gets to decide neutrality? One man's passion is another man's jihad. But, basically, the second paragraph sums it up... Liberty University and the Fundies got what they wanted: an all access pass to the backpacks of innocents. Ahhhh....but, this story gets better.

We commented last December on a Pagan group in Albemarle County, Va., that took advantage of a Religious Right-sponsored move to open a public school’s “backpack mail” system to religious promotions.
The backlash was swift and harsh when parents received fliers announcing a Pagan holiday celebration at the local Unitarian Universalist congregation. One mother was livid that the school would send home in her child’s backpack anything it did not endorse. A “pagan ritual” is “an educational experience my children don’t need,” she fumed.

The irony is sweet, indeed. would've been okay for a Christian to send home a pamphlet that encouraged children to worship at the feet of a crucified human, but it's not okay to gather 'round for a good coven? It would've been okay for a flier to go forth from the Catholic Church that encouraged meeting up for a ritual that symbolized eating the flesh of a human or chanting novenas using a rosary, but... "Oh Noz!!!1!! Stop the evil Unitarians from promoting that which Christianity's main holidays were based on." It's just ironic to me that they're all hot-and-bothered by the "pagan ritual"... Easter, anyone? Eggs = life. Bunnies = fertility. Bloody Jesus = sin and...well, a bloody Jesus!!

"...the Albemarle School District is under attack by a Religious Right group for sending students home with fliers for Camp Quest, an overnight summer camp for young atheists, agnostics and freethinkers.
This time, however, the problem has been exacerbated by a handful of teachers who have refused to send the fliers home. The group assailing Albemarle School District, Rick Scarborough’s Vision America, says “it’s outrageous to force teachers to distribute these fliers.” He’s urging members to contact the district to protest its “establishment of disbelief.”

Oh man...this just gets better and better!!
I can just see a Becky Fisher-esque, soccer mom fainting as she pulls out the Camp Quest pamphlet. One imagines that the parents who complained were doing so while making fliers for the Christian Summer Vacation Fellowship Camp. Here we have a classic case of "what's good for the goose, is good for the gander" and the ganders are honking up a storm!! *HONK!* I think it's just as outrageous to make teachers distribute theist materials IN A PUBLIC, FUCKING SCHOOL, but...that's just me.


Poodles Rule said...

Right now in Utah we are having a voucher brouhaha. It is another one of those things I think will blow up in the religious faces. They want public money for private schools. Okey dokey, I think I'll open Toni's school of secular thought.

Anonymous said...

Okey dokey, I think I'll open Toni's school of secular thought.

Yes. But, you have to promise to adopt a uniform dress code and station ruler wielding nuns at every entrance. It's standard policy. ;)

Condolences for living in Utah.
That's actually my vision of hell (should hell exist); the Osmonds and a three year supply of unground wheat.

Queen Pickle said...

Wow..just another reason I'm glad we homeschool! Next thing you know, you'll be getting offers for a new credit card, offers to refinance your mortgage, and offers to enlarge your penis..all in your child's backpack.

Saurian200 said...

Queen Pickle,

Next thing you know, you'll be getting offers for a new credit card, offers to refinance your mortgage, and offers to enlarge your penis..all in your child's backpack.

The sad part is that I actually am getting credit card offers through my college.

That is, of course, between letters asking me if I want to donate:

My First Born Child

I haven't gotten any refinance offers, but I'll bet they're coming. As for enlargment, well, I woudn't put it past them. I get those offers from everyone else.

Poodles Rule said...


the Osmonds and a three year supply of unground wheat.

HA! My uncle worked for the Osmonds when I was a kid, I got to sit in Donny's purple limo once...

And as for the wheat, I've eaten it, yuck! But the church does make a kick ass peanut butter.

The thing about living in Utah is that even though I hate the lack of seperation of church and state, I love the scenery. 20 min east and I am in some beautiful mountains, 20 min west I am in some beautiful desert, and go about 3 hours south and the canyonlands are just gorgeous, I love red rock country. It is tough sometimes to choose.

Andrew said...

This is incredible, Pmom - blatant, unbridled hypocrisy. This school district better step up before this goes to court, because I can definitely see the ACLU taking a case like this (and I know that can't afford to go to bat with them).

Natalie said...

OMG that is seriously priceless. I can just picture all these fundies hopping mad because someone ELSE is using the forum THEY opened up for religious use. How dare they get the rules changed and then complain about other religions using it? How DARE they.

Steve said...

This should be a lesson for all Christians (or anyone, really) who want to put school-sponsored religion in schools. Be careful what you wish for, you might not like what you get.

You can't just have your religion in public schools. If you force the issue, you'll be opening the door for all of them, along with other viewpoint you might not like. Once that door is opened, you'll find that you won't be able to close it.

Anonymous said...

Natalie, I know, huh?!? How DARE those pagans use the system the Christians created? LOL Hell, I say that it's just payback for centuries of oppression and theft (of holidays). But, truly... next thing you know, those pagans will be demanding the right to vote along with their equal time. They might *gasp* get a position on the school board. OH! The humanity.

Steve, my thoughts exactly: be careful what you wish for. ;) I think that's what's making me so prenaturally happy. I called someting like this about a year ago, in another forum, and all of the Christians in that forum were like, "It wouldn't bother us at all." HAHAHAHAHAHA!! Famous last words. Now they're all bent about it. I just keep linking back to their old statements and smiling.

Cogito said...

HA! I adore this story. But the scary thing is, I believe these people don't understand their hypocrisy. They truly believe that Christianity has some special exempt status, while "separation of church and state" is valid as to all other religions. I think it must be linked to the whole "America is a Christian nation" garbage - as though Christianity is the default position, rather than the "none of the above" stance of a secular government.

I'm basing this on the reactions in this case, and on the lady who is suing to have Harry Potter removed from the classroom, on the basis of the First Amendment, and in the same breath saying that the bible should be taught in public school.

Makes your head hurt, doesn't it?

aimee said...

Just for the record, when has anyone gone out and killed someone in the name of Harry Potter? That would be a big fat NEVER!

These parents protesting Harry Potter drive me crazy. They need a life and need to quit interupting others.

rfmwinnie said...

I love, love, love this story. It is my favorite. I've been telling it to my religious family all week -- thanks for posting it. I can't believe teachers (I'm a teacher) would throw away something the school gives them to send home. And I love the parents who are upset about their kids being exposed to a pagan event. How grossed out they feel is how grossed out I'd feel if a Christian thing were in my child's back pack. You should see what I do to those innumerable postcards from the churches around here.