Pharyngula

The NY Times has a decent summary of the Dobrich case—the families in the Indian River school district of Delaware who are suing to end the state sponsorship of sectarian religion that is running amuck there. Most of the residents there don’t seem to get it—I wish people would stop calling this a school prayer issue, because it plays right into their hands. It isn’t and never has been about restricting people’s ability to say prayers or practice whatever consensual superstitious nonsense in which they want to indulge. It’s about preventing the power of state authorities being used to compel people to join in unwanted religious practices.

It’s probably impossible to explain that the problem is about refusing to give a particular sect a monopoly on religion in an area, or about denying secular authority to the pastor of some random church, when the citizens are as oblivious as the thick-witted bible-thumper who made the comment below:

A homemaker active in her children’s schools, Mrs. Dobrich said she had asked the board to develop policies that would leave no one feeling excluded because of faith. People booed and rattled signs that read “Jesus Saves,” she recalled. Her son had written a short statement, but he felt so intimidated that his sister read it for him. In his statement, Alex, who was 11 then, said: “I feel bad when kids in my class call me ‘Jew boy.’ I do not want to move away from the house I have lived in forever.”

Later, another speaker turned to Mrs. Dobrich and said, according to several witnesses, “If you want people to stop calling him ‘Jew boy,’ you tell him to give his heart to Jesus.”

I don’t want to ever hear anyone calling atheists “arrogant” anymore, either. We’ve got nothing on this kind of smug, pious con artist.

“Because Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, I will speak out for him,” said the Rev. Jerry Fike of Mount Olivet Brethren Church, who gave the prayer at Samantha’s graduation. “The Bible encourages that.” Mr. Fike continued: “Ultimately, he is the one I have to please. If doing that places me at odds with the law of the land, I still have to follow him.”

Hmmm. My militant atheist philosophy encourages me to spit on the wingtips of puffed-up sanctimonious preachers, and my bladder encourages me to piss on the foundations of the cheap gathering halls they use to fleece their flocks. It’s useful to know that our whims supersede not just civility, but the laws of the land.

Comments

  1. #1 steve s
    July 29, 2006

    A large percentage of Americans don’t have American values, they have sick, Christianist values.

  2. #2 Ithika
    July 29, 2006

    He’s not the Messiah! He’s a very naughty boy! Now go away!

    I don’t know why, but idiots like that just make me want to quote Monty Python loud and long.

    Go away or I shall taunt you for a second time!

  3. #3 Corey Schlueter
    July 29, 2006

    I remember when the Lord’s Prayer was no longer recited in Ontario, Canada, public schools in 1988, I believe. And I live in a rural area. When I got into high school we had a moment of silence after the national anthem. Never bothered anybody.

  4. #4 Ken Cope
    July 29, 2006

    my bladder encourages me to piss on the foundations of the cheap gathering halls they use to fleece their flocks.

    If I were to encounter such a cheap gathering hall, empty, which happened to have been set ablaze by somebody else, while experiencing the discomfort of an overfull bladder, I would summon all my strength to seek a more conventional location to relieve myself, particularly if what was in my bladder were all it would take to put it out.

  5. #5 steve s
    July 29, 2006

    Moments of silence don’t bother me any, because the state isn’t pushing any religious position over any other.

  6. #6 steve s
    July 29, 2006

    It’s just a matter of time before the cretins of the Religious Right rediscover separation of church and state. It’ll happen the instant a school district contains enough muslims that they start to push their religious rules on everybody else.

    As bad as christians are, muslims are distinctly worse.

  7. #7 Ken Cope
    July 29, 2006

    Of course, the problem is, it’s the gathering halls of what have been designated as public schools upon which these upstart Christianists have voided their bladders with their militant religious persecution of minorities. They won’t be satisfied until all schools are no more than shrines to their small-minded intolerance and religiously-based hatred.

  8. #8 Baxter
    July 29, 2006

    Never mind the religious overtones of this. Isn’t this harassment? I had this issue when I was in high school (being gay and all sucks), but at least the school took me seriously when I turned some people in to the administration.



  9. #9 Rey
    July 29, 2006

    Fortunately, “anti-semite” is still a scarlet letter in this country.

    Right?

  10. #10 Narc
    July 29, 2006

    Fortunately, “anti-semite” is still a scarlet letter in this country.

    Right?

    “…repeatedly ejaculating on a fat Jewish girl in the Oval Office.” — Ann Coulter

    Wrong.

  11. #11 MYOB
    July 29, 2006

    What I want to know is where are all the jewish support groups and political action committees? Why aren’t these people putting some pressure on these folks?
    Why is this one jewish family literally all by themselves aside from the Does?

    MYOB’
    .

  12. #12 caerbannog
    July 29, 2006


    Moments of silence don’t bother me any, because the state isn’t pushing any religious position over any other.

    Plus, the “moment of silence” is a great time for biology teachers to present all the scientific evidence against evolution.

  13. #13 Dan S.
    July 30, 2006

    “A large percentage of Americans don’t have American values, they have sick, Christianist values.”

    Their spiritual ancestors were the folks who executed several Quakers in Boston Common in 1660.

    Re: Steve’s comment, I do tend to think that the only appeal that might work with some of these people is to think about what happens when they end up “a very small minority,” faced with a bunch of Muslims or Hindus or Jews or etc.,

    (“We have a way of doing things here, and it’s not going to change to accommodate a very small minority,” said Kenneth R. Stevens, 41, a businessman sitting in the Georgetown Diner. “If they feel singled out, they should find another school or excuse themselves from those functions. It’s our way of life.”)

    but I suspect that this wouldn’t compute. Golden rule? What’s that?

    ____

    Anonymous speaker:” “If you want people to stop calling him ‘Jew boy,’ you tell him to give his heart to Jesus.”

    Wikipedia on the 1096 “German Crusade, part of the First Crusade:
    “The crusaders moved north through the Rhine valley into well-known Jewish communities such as Cologne, and then southward. Jewish communities were given the option of converting to Christianity or be slaughtered. Most would not convert and as news of the mass killings spread many Jewish communities committed mass suicides in horrific scenes. Thousands of Jews were massacred, despite some attempts by local clergy and secular authorities to shelter them. The massacres were justified by the claim that Urban’s speech at Clermont promised reward from God for killing non-Christians of any sort, not just Muslims.”

    Hey, you little stupid people ? You’re fucking amateurs, hey? So fuck off.

  14. #14 Dan S.
    July 30, 2006

    Sorry about the extended link. Was annoyed, didn’t check html.

    “Plus, the “moment of silence” is a great time for biology teachers to present all the scientific evidence against evolution. ”

    But what would you do with all the extra time?

  15. #15 raindogzilla
    July 30, 2006

    Just for sh*ts and grins, here’s one xian who’s doing it right.

    “Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

    Somebody actually gets it.

  16. #16 Steve
    July 30, 2006

    “in which they want to indulge in” is needlessly, and unnecessarily, redundant.

  17. #17 Scott Hatfield
    July 30, 2006

    PZ:

    If I might make a suggestion?

    Many of us are involved in education, and one of the most distressing aspects of this family’s personal ‘Exodus’ in the face of persecution is that a young woman accepted to Columbia University felt obliged to withdraw.

    Not only has the school district failed its duty to safeguard this young woman’s liberty of conscience, they have actually damaged her educational prospects, which might well have reflected well upon the district.

    Having said that, perhaps you could use your very well-read blog to solicit donations that would make it possible for this young woman to resume her education pending the results of the lawsuit? You were striking successful at similar appeals earlier this year, as I recall.

    Just a suggestion…Scott

  18. #18 Christensen
    July 30, 2006

    So Myers, your “militant atheist philosphy” encourages you to “spit” and “piss” on the fundies?

    Well, if that was all militant athesits had done, it would be tolerable.

    But in my families experience it didn’t stop with that.

    Although it was always a good start!

  19. #19 oldhippie
    July 30, 2006

    An unhasppy story with an unhappy ending:

    The only thing to flourish, Mrs. Dobrich said, was her faith. Her children, she said, “have so much pride in their religion now.”

    “Alex wears his yarmulke all the time. He never takes it off.”

  20. #20 Peter McGrath
    July 30, 2006

    Telling the ‘Jew boy’ to give his life to Jesus was both moronic and oxymoronic. What was Jesus if not a Jewish boy?

  21. #21 Caledonian
    July 30, 2006

    The only thing to flourish, Mrs. Dobrich said, was her faith. Her children, she said, “have so much pride in their religion now.”

    “Alex wears his yarmulke all the time. He never takes it off.”

    Ah, yes. ‘Circling the wagons’. It’s worked so well in the Middle East, hasn’t it?

  22. #22 Jason
    July 30, 2006

    Hmm… Delaware… That’s one of them fundy red states, ain’t it?

    Delaware 100.0% of 435 precincts reporting
    Candidate Party Vote Count % Votes Cast
    John Kerry Dem 199,887 53.3%

    Oh…

  23. #23 Caledonian
    July 30, 2006

    Um… counting a state as ‘fundy’ just because slightly more of the people voted for Bush, or ‘liberal’ just because slightly more of the people voted for Kerry, is just stupid.

  24. #24 Gerard Harbison
    July 30, 2006

    Hmm… Delaware… That’s one of them fundy red states, ain’t it?.

    There’s Wilmington, and then there’s South Delaware.

    My own family was hounded around Northern Ireland for 300 years by fellow Christians. None of this surprises me in the least, except that the ‘scarlet letter’ of anti Semitism, as somone referred to it, seems to be wearing off, a very worrying development. We had an unusual fifty years or so recently where it was actually socially unacceptable to hate Jews. It seems we’re going back to the general practice of the other 1950 years since the birth of Christianity.

  25. #25 speedwell
    July 30, 2006

    Scott, PZ, I like the idea of donating to the young lady’s college fund. I don’t have a lot of money, but I sure the heck have more than a beleaguered college girl. How can we get something like that off the ground quick? September is pretty close.

  26. #26 Keith Douglas
    July 30, 2006

    Gerard Harbison: And of course Delaware is not alone – many US states ought to be labeled purple by the “red vs blue” terminology.

  27. #27 dcb
    July 30, 2006

    Shorter Christensen:

    Zomg! Militant athiests pwnt my family! Teh sux0r!

  28. #28 GH
    July 30, 2006

    Well, if that was all militant athesits had done, it would be tolerable.

    But in my families experience it didn’t stop with that.

    What had they done? A group of organized militant atheists?

    Oh and I see Jason showed up and posted something totally off the topic about elections. It’s the ideology to him……..always.

  29. #29 Scott Hatfield
    July 30, 2006

    Christensen, stop. Please stop. You can’t compare the private exercise of free speech in this forum by what amounts to a minority group to the sickening public displays of a Christian majority all too willing to deny religious liberty to a lone Jewish girl.

    The God I honor calls me to honor the former and condemn the latter.

    Sincerely,

    Scott

  30. #30 archgoon
    July 30, 2006

    Dear Scott,

    You said that this is a private excercise of free speech on these forums. This is a webpage on the internet. It also happens to be a highly linked blog, according to Technorati.

    How is this not a public forum?

    Note: I am not arguing that Professor Myers is attempting to deny religious liberty to lone Jewish girls, merely inquiring as to why you felt that this discussion ought to be considered a private one.

    Sincerely,
    Chris

  31. #31 dcb
    July 30, 2006

    Mr. Chris Archgoon,

    Not to put words in Mr. Scott’s mouth, but…

    This blog comment I’m typing is a private exercise of free speech because I am speaking as a private individual, not as a government employee, church official, on-air radio host, or representative of another organization speaking in an official capacity.

    For serious 100%,

    dcb

  32. #32 George
    July 30, 2006

    Mrs. Dobrich, who is Orthodox, said that when she was a girl, Christians here had treated her faith with respectful interest. Now, she said, her son was ridiculed in school for wearing his yarmulke. She described a classmate of his drawing a picture of a pathway to heaven for everyone except “Alex the Jew.”

    Truly an embarassment to the country. Where are the religious folks who are standing up to this bigotry and hatred? Where are the teachers and politicians and community leaders?

    Just appalling.

  33. #33 Ophelia Benson
    July 30, 2006

    “We had an unusual fifty years or so recently where it was actually socially unacceptable to hate Jews.”

    No we didn’t, in fact. You’d have thought so, but not really. I had some relatives – highly educated (PhD, even), successful, not stupid, etc – who felt perfectly happy either voicing or chuckling at hatred of Jews in the 60s and 70s (and presumably before that). It always absolutely astonished me when I was a child (and a young adult), for the reason indicated. You know – ‘Er – um – hello? Did you guys not notice a little spot of bother in Germany about thirty years ago? Are you not just a little shy about airing your hatred of Jews at this late date? Do you talk this way in public or only to relatives? Are you…you know…crazy?’ I would protest, and the only result was that when the hatred of Jews was trotted out they would eye me slyly and then laugh.

    So don’t overestimate how thoroughly socially unacceptable hatred of Jews has ever been.

  34. #34 Mooser
    July 30, 2006

    “What I want to know is where are all the jewish support groups and political action committees? Why aren’t these people putting some pressure on these folks?
    Why is this one jewish family literally all by themselves aside from the Does?”

    MYOB’

    It’s pretty simple MYOB, every step towards making America “a Christian nation” not to mention every incident of anti-semetism is a justification for Israel being “a Jewish nation”. Any strong reaction by the Jewish community against Christian Dominionist tactics imperils the support of “Christian Zionists” for Israel.

  35. #35 Gerard Harbison
    July 30, 2006

    I had some relatives – highly educated (PhD, even), successful, not stupid, etc – who felt perfectly happy either voicing or chuckling at hatred of Jews in the 60s and 70s (and presumably before that).

    I shared an office for a year with an eastern European scientist, a fine scientist who went on to be the vice-rector of his university. He was in many respects a nice guy. One day we were having a discussion about something, I forget what, and he asked me, quietly, if I knew what Jews do with Christian babies at Passover. All of a sudden I felt that something ugly and medieval had just warped forward 500 years.

    This was in 1985 or 1986. And he was dead serious; it wasn’t a lame joke.

  36. #36 JakeB
    July 30, 2006

    James Wolcott has a piece up on Mel Gibson’s recent affair that makes good use of his razor wit: http://www.jameswolcott.com

    in re antisemitism . . .

  37. #37 compass
    July 30, 2006

    I don’t want to ever hear anyone calling atheists “arrogant” anymore, either. . .My militant atheist philosophy encourages me to spit on the wingtips of puffed-up sanctimonious preachers, and my bladder encourages me to piss on the foundations of the cheap gathering halls they use to fleece their flocks.

    Well, guess what? You’re still an arrogant, atheist prig. In your sanctimonious belief system, you see yourself as totally justified in being so judgemental. Whereas the quack you mention, like Fred Phelps, is not being consistent in the following of his belief system.

  38. #38 JakeB
    July 30, 2006

    compass–
    so are you completely ignorant of the history of religion, or do you believe that the vast majority of people who called themselves Christians down the ages actually weren’t?

  39. #39 Scott Hatfield
    July 30, 2006

    Memo to Christensen, Chris, Archgoon or any other sobriquet:

    Another reason why one can make the ‘private/public’ distinction is that in your case you are not compelled to sample the personal opinions of any one here. In no way is your liberty constrained: you are free to post, to read, or not as it suits you. You’re a private citizen exercising his liberty; so is Professor Myers.

    Ms. Dobrich, on the other hand, was compelled on more than one occasion to experience assaults, subtle and otherwise, upon her liberty of conscience by representatives of government. As a high school teacher, I’ve been required to attend seminars by my district that spell out the law in this manner but, frankly, you don’t have to be an attorney to know that Ms. Dobrich’s rights were violated; neither do you have to have passed the bar to know that nothing more than your sensibilities were violated here.

    Scott

  40. #40 Ken Cope
    July 30, 2006

    By ending the quotation where he did, truncating PZ’s closing sentence: “It’s useful to know that our whims supersede not just civility, but the laws of the land,” Compass flips its point with drooling incontinence.

    No matter whether Compass’s wingtips would be improved by a spitshine, PZ knows not to act on such a whim, for both its incivility and illegality, in stark contrast with the villains he describes acting as if their duty as Christian Americans is to persecute religious minorities.

  41. #41 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    Hmm… Delaware… That’s one of them fundy red states, ain’t it?

    Hey, shit-for-brains Jason, you did it again. Once again, unable to defend slimy actions by other fundies, you respond by changing the subject, with an irrelevant swipe at Democrats. Might there be some REASON why you won’t condemn the actions of these worthless bigots?

  42. #42 Monado
    July 31, 2006

    I’ve been looking for a relevant place to put this quote by Wafa Sultan, and I think this is it: “Brother, you can believe in stones, as long as you don’t throw them at me.”

  43. #43 Monado
    July 31, 2006

    As far as donating for the daughter’s college fund, it’s a good idea. However, if she withdrew her place in Columbia University, it will have been offered to another student by now.

  44. #44 complex_field
    July 31, 2006

    Is there some way to contact the Dobrich family, and set up a fund contingent upon her acceptance in returning to school (Columbia or anything else)?

  45. #45 Paul Callahan
    July 31, 2006

    Jason, your comment about Delaware makes so little sense I’m not sure what point you were even trying to make.

    As others have pointed out, Delaware cast 46% of its vote for Bush, so there is no reason to assume that those harrassing the Dobrichs are not Republicans.

    Moreover, in Sussex County, where this happened, Bush got 60% of the vote. http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004//pages/results/states/DE/P/00/county.000.html

    Finally, you yourself have cast doubt on the idea that liberal Democrats are ever really religious (past comments on Barack Obama http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/06/why_i_will_never_vote_for_bara.php#comment-124368 )

    Jason, do you honestly think that the Dobrichs are being harrassed primarily by “liberal” Kerry voters? I mean, I personally don’t know for sure. I guess anything is possible, though it’s hard to see what modern liberalism with its emphasis on celebrating cultural diversity could possibly have to offer such people.

    But what I really want to know is what do you think. If we were going to make a bet, where would you put your money? If you think the woman who said “tell him to give his heart to Jesus” was a Kerry voter, then please support this with some data more meaningful than the fact that Kerry won a small majority in Delaware. If you think that woman supports Bush (as I suspect) then explain why you posted such an asinine non sequitur.

  46. #46 PaulC
    July 31, 2006

    BTW, I too was a little surprised and saddened to think something like this could happen in Delaware. Despite growing up in the Philly area, I guess I really don’t know Delaware apart from I-95. I guess if I had been told that this happened in rural PA, I could believe it. Actually, Kerry only won one Delaware county, though it happens the most populous by far http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004//pages/results/states/DE/P/00/county.000.html

  47. #47 gwangung
    July 31, 2006

    Well, compass and Jason are once again reinforcing the idea that conservatives are heartless, unfeeling, ideologically driven bastard bigots.

    Good job, guys.

  48. #48 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    Jason, do you honestly think that the Dobrichs are being harrassed primarily by “liberal” Kerry voters

    Maybe Jason did want to imply that ‘liberal Kerry voters’ did this, or maybe his point was if the religious right does something bad in a ‘Blue state’, Liberals have no right to complain about it? Supposedly we have to defend anything done in a ‘Blue state?

    Either way, it’s striking how he swiftly changes the subject rather than defend (or condemn!) the people doing the harassing. Says a lot about Jason’s ethics.

  49. #49 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    Ann Coulter is their hero.

    Or is it Rush?

    Or is it Dick Cheney?

  50. #50 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006
  51. #52 paleotn
    July 31, 2006

    Compass wrote….

    “Well, guess what? You’re still an arrogant, atheist prig. In your sanctimonious belief system, you see yourself as totally justified in being so judgemental. Whereas the quack you mention, like Fred Phelps, is not being consistent in the following of his belief system.”

    No, the Phelps clan IS being consistent with their belief system. Gary North and his quip about stones being cheap IS being consistent with his belief system. We have 2000 years of historically documented torture, murder and genocide, perpetrated in the name of Christianity that IS consistent with the Christian belief system. I’d dare say the large percentage of members of my old denomination (SBC), including several members of my own extended family, agree with Phelps on homosexuality and many of his tactics, but don’t have the fortitude to admit it publicly. Unlike the Phelps band, the southern baptists are not out of the mainstream in fundie, evangelical circles. They ARE the mainstream.

    Then again, what does one expect from a god who according to his own sacred text enjoys a good stoning, advocates killing all those who don’t agree with every jot and tittle of his precepts and actually boasts of genocide. Oh, but watch out for those chariots of iron. For some odd reason, he can’t handle iron chariots. Go figure.

  52. #53 Gadfly22
    July 31, 2006

    To whom it may concern:

    No worries about Alex Dobrich “giving his heart” to Me. He’s cool with Me already. We “Jew Boys” have to stick together.

    Yours in Me,

    Jesus

  53. #54 Scott Hatfield
    July 31, 2006

    I’ve sent an email to the attorney representing the Dobrichs asking if in his judgement it would be both appropriate and prudent to offer donations.

    When he replies I’ll let the folk on this forum know about it.

    Scott

  54. #55 JakeB
    July 31, 2006

    Scott–
    You’re a good egg.

    -Jake

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