And climb the stairs to the beach...

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Morning Folks October 1, 2009

Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit

Did y'all say your rabbits this morning? I know most of you have gotten so good at remembering, you probably don't even need me to remind you anymore. I have to say, I am always tickled when people tell me, without even being asked, that they remembered their rabbits. And you know it makes me happy to think y'all will have good luck for the whole new month. Lucky us!

Today, I just want to talk a bit about how reality has hit the Bible Belt. Some of the headlines here lately have been "Jesus in the Bleachers", "Spiritual Spirit Squad Squelched" "No More Running Through Scripture on Friday Night".
The controversy here in the neighboring town of Fort Oglethorpe, GA has hit this area like a shockwave. It's not surprising that there is controversy, but it is surprising that it is such a new idea down here.

The cheerleaders at the Lakeview Fort Oglethorpe Highs School make paper banners through which the football team breaks as they run onto the field under Friday night lights. Nothing unusual about that, but this particular cheerleading squad, for years, has painted scripture on these signs, hoping to motivate and inspire their players and fans. Officials have ordered them to stop this practice after one very unpopular woman filed a complaint with Superintendent Denia Reese.

“I regret that we had to ask the LFO cheerleaders to change the signs used in the stadium prior to football games,” Mrs. Reese states. “Personally, I appreciate this expression of their Christian values; however, as superintendent I have the responsibility of protecting the school district from legal action by groups who do not support their beliefs.”

“I rely on reading the Bible daily, and I would never deny our students the opportunity to express their religious beliefs,” she said. “I appreciate that our community has rallied in support of this LFO tradition.”

That statement makes me think madam Superintendent just doesn't get it. On the other hand, the Anti-Defamation League has written a letter commending the Superintendent for upholding the law. In that letter they write:

“ADL believes deeply in the importance of safeguarding freedom of religion in our increasingly pluralistic nation. This position is not one of hostility toward religion; rather, it reflects a profound respect for religious freedom and recognition of the extraordinary diversity of religions represented by the students and staff in our public schools. It is essential that high school sports programs keep in mind that the children entrusted to your care likely have widely divergent religious points of view. Your decision shows respect for this diversity.

Of course students have the right to individually express their religious beliefs and it is commendable that you have sought out alternatives that can meet the needs of your students and stay within the principles of the First Amendment. "

The letters to the editors and the bubbas they quote on the news are responding with gems like: "“If it’s offensive to anyone, let them go watch another football game,” he said. “Nobody’s forced to come there and nobody’s forced to read the signs.”

They scheduled a big rally outside the Chick-Fil-A and were expecting a crowd of 500 or more. (By the way, when I first moved down here I saw that sign and thought how stupid. That says Chick-Fi lah not Chick Filet. But, that's how they prounounce it here.)

There was a time when I thought it was silly and didn't really understand why it was so necessary to keep God out of school and government, in general. I remember when they stopped the clergy person delivering the invocation at the beginning of Sudbury's annual town meeting from using the word God. I thought how silly when praying was something you could certainly opt out of just by sitting quietly for a few minutes. Some of the clergy do sneak God in there. And I still think that's kind of silly since it comes right before we all say "one nation under God." 
Back in Sudbury when my office shared a wing with our school department's central office, our annual "Christmas" party was changed to a "Winter Solstice" party, although I suppose that could have been construed as Wiccan. We used snowflakes as decorations. One secretary thought it was kind of funny when it was explained to her that she could wear a Christmas sweater, and that would be okay. but if she hung it on the door knob of her office, it would become a holiday decoration and that wouldn't be allowed.

That probably was an exaggeration, but that was just an example of how very careful everyone in government has been up north for decades, yet here in the south, they are just tackling it now.

I shouldn't make light of it, since it is getting very nasty. I can't believe some of the comments that are flying back and forth from both sides. If you want to read about it, just Google the subject and you'll find lots of sites out there talking about it.

I know that the people here wear their religion on their sleeves and the name of Jesus is everywhere and spoken by everyone all the time. Since us northerners have removed any Christian or religious references from our public venues, I think we went a little further and have also removed such references from private settings like workplaces and from newspapers and the local news.

Down here, church activities are on the news and the newspapers have many articles about what's going on in the local churches. Even billboards express religious messages. When you meet somebody for the first time, they usually ask what church you attend. Church and faith is central to many people's lives down here and I admit it makes me a little uncomfortable sometimes.

So, the conversation begins, thanks to some "Banned Bible Banners". I think they just haven't been exposed to "differences" here as much as other parts of the country and it's going to take them a little longer to get to a place where they don't dare hang a Santa sweater on a doorknob.

Have a great day and a great October!

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