Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Some Old Fashioned Hate And Bigotry In Our Own Backyard
(Update below)

I read about this story below and was shocked, dismayed and saddened by it.

A large Delaware school district promoted Christianity so aggressively that a Jewish family felt it necessary to move to Wilmington, two hours away, because they feared retaliation for filing a lawsuit. The religion (if any) of a second family in the lawsuit is not known, because they're suing as Jane and John Doe; they also fear retaliation. Both families are asking relief from "state-sponsored religion."

  • The district's "custom and practice of school-sponsored prayer" frequently imposed ... on impressionable non-Christian students," violating their constitutional rights.
  • The district ignored the Supreme Court's 1992 Lee decision limiting prayer at graduation ceremonies -- even after a district employee complained about the prayer at her child's 2003 graduation..
  • District teachers and staff led Bible clubs at several schools. Club members got to go to the head of the lunch line.
  • While Bible clubs were widely available, student book clubs were rare and often canceled by the district.
  • When Jane Doe complained that her non-Christian son "Jordan Doe" was left alone when his classmates when to Bible club meetings, district staff insisted that Jordan should attend the club regardless of his religion.
  • The district schools attended by Jordan and his sister "Jamie Doe" distributed Bibles to students in 2003, giving them time off from class to pick up the books.
  • Prayer --often sectarian -- is a routine part of district sports programs and social events
  • One of the district's middle schools gave students the choice of attending a special Bible Club if they did not want to attend the lesson on evolution.
  • A middle school teacher told students there was only "one true religion" and gave them pamphlets for his surfing ministry.
  • Samantha Dobrich's honors English teacher frequently discussed Christianity, but no other religion.
This quote particularly got my attention “The complaint recounts a raucous crowd that applauded the board's opening prayer and then, when sixth-grader Alexander Dobrich stood up to read a statement, yelled at him "take your yarmulke off!" His statement, read by Samantha, confided "I feel bad when kids in my class call me Jew boy."

What the heck is so brave about being a part of a mob that asked a Jewish kid to remove his yarmulke and then laugh about it. Is this something the good lord Jesus would do and approve of?

As a person of color and a non-Christian the issue of how one is perceived is probably always there at the back of ones mind. I like to believe that I would be treated fairly and generally do believe in the more humane side of people regardless of their political and religious persuasions unless I find out otherwise.

When we moved to the first state more than a year ago from Connecticut, we were sure that we would be able to adapt and fit in with ease. That to date has surely been the case. But I also recall comments made by couple of folks from CT who had lived in Delaware who suggested to be careful about living in Southern Delaware. It might feel like parts of the deep south we were told. While the fact that we live in the Northern more progressive/tolerant part of the state might make me feel a little better, I am ashamed to say the least about this story.

I also have to applaud the progressive blogosphere, particularly the always funny and amazing J.C. Christian, Trout Fishing , Daily kos , delaware liberal and Atrios for shining a spotlight on this issue. I also liked the suggestion that the progressive side of the blogosphere should take action and ask the 200 or so blogs that are aligned with the “Stop theACLU coalition” and ask them what they think is very Christian about going after a Jewish family and running them out of town under fear of violence.

There is also a larger issue here, that of some people thinking that the religious conservatives on the right are merely concerned about abortion. The Christian rightwing is not just interested in taking away the right to choose from women, they also want a nation based on biblical laws. Oh and to hell with those of us who are not one of them. We get to be left behind.

And in another sad incident some moron tossed a pigs head into a mosque in Maine. The guy who did it says he did it as a joke!!!

If one looks back in history there are number or examples around the world of those who have courted religious nutcases have often lived to regret it. They tried to use them for their purpose but instead ended up creating Frankensteinesque monsters that were no longer under their control. I just pray that we pull ourselves back from this precipice, but it won't happen until ordinary folks take a stance against this intolerance.

Update I- As suggested by delaware liberal I called his office to find out where he stands on this whole unholy mess. The woman at the desk (Rachel) told me she does not know if Rep. Castle has made a public statement on this issue. She took my telephone number down and said she would get back to me about this.
I am also planning on writing to our local newspapapers about this issue. Stay tuned.


Keshi said...

Jay thats such an awful thing to say to a take off his 'yarmulke'. How insensitive and intolerant is that?

If some ppl r not smart enough to realise that nobody is superior to the other and that we r all equal even tho we have diffent beliefs, then those ppl should go live in a cave. These r the modern times where racism and religious intolerance should have been long discarded. But I find it shocking that these r also the times where that kind of intolerance is increasing! Isnt it strange.


Eli said...

Oh and to hell with those of us who are not one of them. We get to be left behind.

I'm, uh, kinda looking forward to that...

~River~ said...

Such intolerance scares me. I see so much of it around me that sometimes I almost feel that something 'normal' like fellow-feeling does not exist any more. The fear of The Other has become too deep a stain in our souls.

Mr. J said...

Religious nutcases. You said it ;)

Harjee Kapur said...

in france, sardar kids are not allowed in schools till they get rid of their turbans.

so either they cut their hair or stay at home.

tough choices... right?

karmic_jay said...

@keshi.Actually intolerance is not goign anywhere nodern times not withstanding. I think a huge reason for that is our rapidly changing,complex world, which just makes it easier for some folks to want to hang on to "simpler" things one of which is religion and rather twisted version of it for some.

@Eli.. Yep me too. The world might end up being in more harmony.

@River.. I could not agree more.

@me. yup.

@harjee kapur. I thought they were trying to get an exemption for this? Hmm I should read up a bit more. France is just another story altogether!

Donviti said...

one of my buddies on my blog emailed the school board as well. He was nice enough to post the letter on our site. Keep up the good work.

gotta love slower lower.

Donviti said...

PS I will put you up on my blogroll if that is ok with you. I like to ask first before I assume you want to be listed on my site. I lean a little left and get a little beligerent at times.

let me know

karmic_jay said...

Donviti, Thanks for stopping by. Go ahead and blogroll me and thanks for asking. Is it ok for me to do the same?

Teri said...

GAH!!!!! Not just nutcases, assholes!!!!

and, if they'd been paying attention to the Bible (you know, the thing they quote every other breath or so), they'd have realized that, HELLO!, Jesus was jewish and lived mostly by jewish law.

Damn Jackasses.

(sorry for the language... somethings one just needs to swear about).

karmic_jay said...

@Teri.. Religious zealots will often selectively quote or interpret texts as it suits them.

Feel free to vent and don't worry about the language.

opinionatedinjerzee said...

its sad to see that how much of this still goes on... you would think that American has come a long way but its only a few places.. Most places in the u.s still have a very white supremacist state of mind!

karmic_jay said...

@Opin.. I am not sure how many places havesuch a demented mindset. I am hoping it's only a few.

Id it is said...

Why and how does religion creep into education? In this case of coure it didn't creep in;it probably strutted in!
What message are we sending to those students studying in that school? To not be tolerant; to not recognize and respect diversity! It's no surprise that our schools rank among the ast ten in the world.

mikey said...

Religions are the causes of wars and destructions around the globe, and conflicts among people from different race and religious backgrounds. People tend to misuse religions for the purpose of power, property and prestige.

If only religions were created by God (or whatever/whoever they call...), and not humans themselves.

Keshi said...

yep u r sooo right!


karmic_jay said...

@mikey.. you r right.