A school that did something that was just not cool

Rawstory.com recently reported on a situation in Cartersville, Georgia, where the mother of a fifth-grader found herself in opposition to her son’s school participating in giving Bibles to the students, and particularly how they handled it.

From the story:

Jessica Greene considers herself a Christian, but she doesn’t think Cloverleaf Elementary in Cartersville should allow Gideons International to hand out Bibles to students, reported WXIA-TV.

Greene’s son, Leo Butler, said his teacher told the class that the evangelical group had volunteered to distribute Bibles, and the students formed a line in the library.

Students were not required to take a Bible, the boy said, but children who did not wish to receive one were told to walk ahead of the line and stand on the other side of the room.

The reaction from other parents is just alarming, and as stated later in the story included comments like “You’re outnumbered here” and “I stand by Cloverleaf.” Whether or not Jessica is outnumbered is irrelevant. The government has no business in religion, and it’s of highly questionable appropriateness to allow the Gideons to use the school as a Bible distribution point. Even setting that aside, singling out the students who either didn’t need a Bible, or just didn’t want a Bible for whatever reason, is just not cool. I’d find this method of distribution abhorrent even if a private school did it.

(I remember my fifth-grade class at such a private school quite vividly. While I unfortunately did not have the experience of transferring to a public school in the middle of my fifth-grade year, I did attend public school from sixth grade on and I can say that not a whole lot really changed other than I didn’t have to go to Bible class anymore. The private school I went to never handed out Bibles, but I would like to think if they did even they wouldn’t have done it the way Cloverleaf Elementary did.)

The Air Force’s new policy about hotel Bibles

The Blaze reports on the US Air Force’s new policy regarding Bibles and on-base lodging facilities. Essentially, starting this October, it will no longer be a requirement that each room at an on-base lodging facility has a Bible.

It is unclear whether the existing Bibles will be removed by that day, or if the only removal is from the checklist and thus housekeeping is longer legally required to check that the Bible is in the room and usable.

The Blaze links to a news story from WRWR with more information.

The response followed a protest from the Military Association of
Atheists and Freethinkers who push, according to the [Air Force Association], to “free the U.S. military of policies that it purports promote religion.”

The group claimed that placement of Bibles in on-base rooms was “a special privilege for Christianity.” Bibles are placed in on-base lodging by the Gideons.

I agree in principle with what the MAAF is trying to accomplish here. If the Gideons wish to provide Bibles for those who want them, I am okay with it, however I also believe those of other faiths should have the same opportunities to make their holy books available. Yes, this would include the Quran or any other holy book which is roughly on par with the Bible in another faith, and it would also extend to other versions of the Bible (such as the Canon of Trent, better known as the Catholic Bible).

I am sensitive to those who may find it offensive that a Bible is in the room unsolicited. I am not a Christian myself, nor am I an Atheist, however it does fly a bit in the face of “freedom of religion” to twist that around and allow an action which in effect say “freedom to practice Christianity” (or, put another way, “freedom to practice the same religion we do”). Giving the Gideons preference by allowing placement of the Bible in each room, and not allowing other groups a similar privilege, seems to fall more under the latter headings than the former.

However, I have a clear and direct message to the Atheists who would dump the Bibles in the trash: Don’t you dare! Respect and tolerance goes both ways, and it is already difficult enough for non-Christians (in general) to get and keep the respect of Christians, particularly those Christians who feel it their duty to “convert” others. (And yes, in a past time, prior to my enlightenment, I was one of those Christians too.) I promote respect and tolerance between those of all faiths. Even if you personally believe the Bible is a work of fiction, it deserves to be treated with respect. Disrespecting the Bible makes it harder for us all to get respect in the long term.