Ron Paul and Columbine
In his open letter from a few years ago entitled “The War on Religion” Ron Paul states:
Through perverse court decisions and years of cultural indoctrination, the elitist, secular Left has managed to convince many in our nation that religion must be driven from public view. The justification is always that someone, somewhere, might possibly be offended or feel uncomfortable living in the midst of a largely Christian society, so all must yield to the fragile sensibilities of the few. The ultimate goal of the anti-religious elites is to transform America into a completely secular nation, a nation that is legally and culturally biased against Christianity.
Mr. Paul, this is where Columbines are born and raised. I have felt, at many times during my school life, a sense of exclusion. Even though I grew up in an era when religion wasn’t “forced” in schools it still existed in ugly and discriminatory ways. Teachers would ask what church my parents attended. I once saw my music teacher ringing a bell at a local church asking my friends and I, on a Saturday, if we’d heard the good news and invited us to bible study. I respectfully told her “no thanks, my family doesn’t believe in god”. The next week in class my friend and I were singled out to clean the instruments. This duty rotated and we’d cleaned them just two weeks ago in a class of thirty, but we did it. The next week, us again. The following week, us again. Moments of “silence” were common. When I would take the time to draw pictures on my notepaper teachers would tell me it was disrespectful to draw while “some students prayed”. So, by that logic I was forced to hang my head and mimic prayer instead of meditating on my own thoughts in my own way.
Where this draws a parallel to the tragedy at Columbine is that you have a homogeneous majority applying pressure to a minority. I had support and love at home, but if I didn’t have parents who fought for my rights as an atheist (something they themselves never claimed to be) I might have felt the impulse to do violence to my perceived oppressors.
Saying that a “secular elite” wants Christians to not be able to worship in their community is all well and good, but it’s either a juvenile view or veiled malice. The real people, the flesh and blood people, who choose to enforce separation of church and state vary considerably across this country. Atheists are not without fear of prejudice and some evangelical educators may be inclined to “save” our children or punish us through them without the kinds of legal protections we’ve fought so hard for. Our beliefs (or lack thereof) cross lines of color, gender, and sexuality, so we’re sometimes the invisible minority. Often we try to blend in and not make waves, because in some parts of the country pronouncing your way of life is an invitation to harassment.
No sir, religion must be banned from schools in ALL FORMS. I appreciate Mr. Paul’s desire to encourage young people of his own faith to explore its traditions, but by placing their symbols on public property (that atheists pay for out of their hard-earned money) is offensive and dangerous. Young people are naturally drawn to want acceptance, and can be very cruel on those who are not like them. Will you Mr. Paul, take responsibility… personal responsibility… for that child who decides he wants to be accepted and throws a rock at a young woman who doesn’t clasp her hands in prayer in front of the nativity scene you’ve erected at her school? Will you fly to her town and cradle her crying head when a teacher chooses to skip her over on cupcake day because she was “insubordinate” by not closing her eyes during her fellow students’ prayer circle? Will you tell her it will be alright when mean girls tape torn bible pages to her backpack and call her names? Her parents, who pay taxes for this, might need to work two or three jobs. Her father’s manager at the local store just happens to be her over-zealous teacher’s husband. Is that man going to jeopardize his only income in a bad economy to stand up for his daughter? No. He’s going to tell her to be strong and he’s going to feel like a weak failure of a parent. Too poor to move to California or New York, he’s stuck in the community he was born in… a community that no longer fits his beliefs.
By allowing communities to “live the way they want” you’re forcing mass migrations and driving a deeper rift in this country’s already strained fabric. “If you don’t like it, move!” is not a way to teach tolerance.
Where does this leave the little girl from our example? She’s now sixteen. She found a boyfriend with a car who isn’t part of a church. They both feel like outcasts. The teasing hasn’t stopped. Her father’s manager’s wife is now promoted to principal and routinely gives the girl detentions for not participating. No one is going to challenge her, why should they? With all these “discipline problems” on her transcripts she’s paranoid that she’ll never be accepted to the college she dreamed of. To her it was a way out of the town she feels trapped in. The idea of college moved her forward and kept her sane. It was the only thing she lived for after years of abuse. Now she sees all her dreams fading away. Her boyfriend is angry that she feels this way and takes his father’s gun to school. One by one the bloody bodies fall to the ground. Each one of them is revenge for stealing his girlfriend’s future in the name of their “god”. The victims? The football star and his scholarship. The popular girl whose father is the pastor. The teacher who never did a bad thing to the girl, but kept a painting of Jesus behind her on the chalkboard (something the girl saw as taunting).
That blood is all on your hands Mr. Paul and it will never wipe off. If you don’t protect the “fragile sensibilities of the few” the majority will learn how dangerous a caged animal can be. All because you want to take your religious scenes out of the church and bring them to a place where developing children and diverse cultural backgrounds clash head-on. You’re tossing a match into the powder keg and watching it burn.
I’ll say it here and now! You, Mr. Paul, have the makings of a terrorist if you don’t rethink the consequences of your words.