What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, eh, Jerry?
December 8, 2006 4:50 AM   Subscribe

Albemarle County, Virginia: Pagans have been granted permission to advertise religious events in public schools... thanks to Jerry Falwell!
posted by Faint of Butt (52 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Original article here.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:58 AM on December 8, 2006


The removal of the img tag prevents me from posting the obligatory picture of Nelson from The Simpsons.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:10 AM on December 8, 2006


It's called 'blow-back' – the unanticipate consequences of agressive action.

It's time that all the movement conservatives - religous, political, etc. – learned that the world is not a one-lane street. And that their late arrival does not signal a referendum to change anything.
posted by vhsiv at 5:22 AM on December 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


'unanticipated'
posted by vhsiv at 5:23 AM on December 8, 2006


And conservative Rabbis may be on the verge of ordaining homosexuals! All that crap from Star Trek and The Jetsons is to blame for this 21st Century reasoning.
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:24 AM on December 8, 2006


Well, the beauty part for them is that this creates material. Falwell and the like are immune to irony because they have no shame. Schadenfreude bounces off their thick, fat, greasy hides. Boink!
posted by nj_subgenius at 5:26 AM on December 8, 2006


Oh, those wacky UU's...
Unfortunately, this single ripple does little to stem the overwhelming tidal wave of religious intolerance in our country.
posted by DesbaratsDays at 5:47 AM on December 8, 2006


This sounds very Charlottesville. Which is a good thing.
posted by bardic at 5:48 AM on December 8, 2006


Thank Blodeuwedd for Jerry Falwell.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:03 AM on December 8, 2006


Paganism is a religion?

Def:
The term pagan is from Latin paganus, an adjective originally meaning "rural", "rustic" or "of the country." As a noun, paganus was used to mean "country dweller, villager."
posted by nofundy at 6:10 AM on December 8, 2006


Pagani was what Imperial Romans called their outlying neighbors -- pretty much a slur, like "redneck." Now it's New Age shite wearing black instead of crystals.

I still think it's a decent protest. Want to allow religion in schools? Fine. I got dibs on sacrificing infants to Baal.
posted by bardic at 6:14 AM on December 8, 2006


As a noun, paganus was used to mean "country dweller, villager."

a.k.a. "rube".

Which gets us back to...

(sorry, couldn't resist)
posted by IndigoJones at 6:15 AM on December 8, 2006


It's not one religion, nofundy, but a group of related religions and beliefs (generally based on what is suposed about pre-Christian aka "pagan" (in the rustic sense) religions in Europe). And while I may quibble with some of their historical claims (the knowledge of pre-Christian European beliefs is far more tenuous than most pagans believe and the history of witchcraft persecution is widely misunderstood in the pagan community), they are just as much legitimate systems of belief as any religion of the book.

I'm glad this group sent home flyers. If parents want religions in schools, they cannot discriminate between them. And it is shocking how many educated, suposedly intelligent people are ignorant about paganism and related beliefs. You don't have to believe in them to simply recognise them. I don't understand Hinduism, but I recognise it as a legitimate religion. Maybe holding some educational days will improve this.

Actually, I think all schools should hold mandatory discussion/education days on religion - and they can have talks by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Pagans, Atheists, Zoastrians, Bahais...just one talk per religion/belief/non-belief and try to have a talk for everyone represented in the whole school. Teach the majority about the minorities.
posted by jb at 6:21 AM on December 8, 2006


I don't have a problem with this. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion mean something to me.
posted by konolia at 6:25 AM on December 8, 2006


How soon can we send FSM material to post at this school?!
posted by nofundy at 6:56 AM on December 8, 2006


Teach the majority about the minorities. Don't forget FSM day and also Atheism Day. Personally I'd rather have my kid be studying science in school, but whatchoo gonna do.
posted by DenOfSizer at 6:58 AM on December 8, 2006


As a product of the Albemarle County school system, in my entire time, the closest we can to religion was having a authentic Tibetan monk visit my high school on Multi-Culture day.

That said, I'm not pleased by this post. I would prefer religion to be discussed at home, not at a school. This counts for the pagans and for Christians.
posted by Atreides at 7:19 AM on December 8, 2006


I would prefer religion to be discussed at home, not at a school.

What are you, some kind of Constitution-lover or something?
posted by bardic at 7:26 AM on December 8, 2006


Neo-paganism is a vague term referring to a bunch of MRM (modern religious movements), many of which have nothing in common with each other besides not being monotheist. The boundaries are kind of fuzzy.

In this context, it means "vaguely Wiccan."
posted by QIbHom at 7:29 AM on December 8, 2006


I don't see this as some great gotcha on Jerry Falwell. Rather, it's an open door for everyone to violate the doctrine of separation of church and state. There's nothing wrong with an elective comparative religions class. Beyond that, keep all of it out of public schools.
posted by amro at 8:18 AM on December 8, 2006 [2 favorites]


Actually, this has been going on quite a while, because of the Equal Access Act, which makes it easier for student-led religious clubs to meet at public schools. The Religious Right basically supported the legislation, because it made it easier to form Bible clubs in public schools. What the Religious Right didn't realize was that the Equal Access Act had to open up access to the public schools for all other non-disruptive student-led clubs, or it would have immediately led to a Constitutional challenge on limiting freedom of assembly. This led to a rise in straight/gay alliance clubs and pro-gay rights groups in high schools during the 1990s, although one school district in Salt Lake City, Utah tried to shut down a straight/gay alliance by pulling the plug on all other extracurricular clubs.
posted by jonp72 at 8:34 AM on December 8, 2006


It looks like fun to tweak the fundies, and maybe get some education across. However, it's the camel's nose under the tent, and the fundies can outspend anybody. In the article one guy also uses the pagan thing as a call for flight from the public school system.
posted by atchafalaya at 8:37 AM on December 8, 2006


FWIW, I don't see any problem using the school rooms and grounds to hold youth church group, or youth pagan group, meetings. It's a public place, paid for with public money, and some of the public is Christian, Pagan, Jewish, etc. The young atheists should be able to have their meetings there too. NEVER during school hours, though.

I also think that advertising for these meetings should be strictly limited - just a single flyer on the official bulletin board announcing the name of the organization, a brief description, and the time/place of the meeting(s).
posted by Mister_A at 8:59 AM on December 8, 2006


Actually, I think all schools should hold mandatory discussion/education days on religion - and they can have talks by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Pagans, Atheists, Zoastrians, Bahais...

For sure, and in the meteorology chapter in science class, they can devote one day to science and the other 30 days to the alternatives -- astrology, dowsing, trephining, etc.
posted by dreamsign at 9:41 AM on December 8, 2006


"In the article one guy also uses the pagan thing as a call for flight from the public school system."

And, it would be a bad thing for the public schools to be void of fundamentalist christians?

I think not.... removing the bigoted, narrow minded types (no matter what their ilk) from our schools could only be a step in the right direction.
posted by HuronBob at 9:41 AM on December 8, 2006


And, it would be a bad thing for the public schools to be void of fundamentalist christians?

Yes. It would be a bad thing for all of us, if the fundies continue their flight from the public schools. Homeschooling just makes them that much more polarized.

I'm with the folks who would rather see none of this crap in the public schools, at all. The rules being what they appear to be in that district, I'm glad the 'pagans' are stepping up. But I'd be happier if some horrified parent would lobby the school board, or bring a lawsuit, and get it all tossed out.

Ironically, the horrified parent this time around might be a Religious Righter.
posted by gurple at 10:24 AM on December 8, 2006


Except then the bigoted narrow minded types have no access at all to scientific information. They become even more cult-like.

By having the children of fundie crazies in public schools, you open up the possibilities that they will be exposed to big ideas and break out of their ignorance, generationally speaking.
posted by MythMaker at 10:27 AM on December 8, 2006


Oh, and frankly I'm disappointed in Rob Boston's tone in that article. Sure, there's schadenfreude to appreciate, here. But now what you've got is both sides eroding the church-state wall. I'm surprised Rob doesn't at least make some noises condemning what the pagans are doing, too. Given the organization he works for (of which I'm a proud member), and all.
posted by gurple at 10:32 AM on December 8, 2006


Thank you to both sides for to use public schools as an inane theater for your nonsense.
posted by boo_radley at 10:38 AM on December 8, 2006


Oh contrarie. Fundie flight is good for us.

It increases their marginalization by isolating them from less extreme but sympathetic points of view, creates the opportunity for them to fail to educate their children and therefore impoverish them, and reduces the chances for dialogue between them and society, increasing their fringieness.
posted by ewkpates at 10:42 AM on December 8, 2006


Oh contrarie. Fundie flight is good for us.

I really disagree, but then again, I just read Kingdom Coming, by Michelle Goldberg. It's a great survey of the Christian Nationalist movement. In it, she describes the fundie flight from the public schools as a way that fundamentalists are continuing the extremism of their subculture by keeping their children as extreme as they are.

More importantly for the rest of us, though, these poor homeschooled fundie kids are going on to fundie-run colleges, like Liberty University, and after that, on to fundie law school. They never step out of their subculture from the day they're born to the day they're arguing cases are lawyers for groups like the Liberty Counsel mentioned in the article.

We do not need more lawyers like that, nor more judges.
posted by gurple at 10:48 AM on December 8, 2006


Oh, and frankly I'm disappointed in Rob Boston's tone in that article.

I was just thinking the same thing. What's he so cheerful about? This development does nothing to forward his cause.
posted by amro at 10:48 AM on December 8, 2006


Fundie flight is good

Nyet. Public Schools - as in tax funded. They pay as much as anyone else, and have the right to use them.
posted by CynicalKnight at 10:51 AM on December 8, 2006


Jeff Riddle, pastor of Jefferson Park Baptist Church in Charlottesville, wrote on his personal blog, "If the school allows the Baptist or Methodist church to send home a note to its students about Vacation Bible School, it also has to allow the Unitarian Church to send home a note about its ‘Pagan ritual to celebrate Yule’….This kind of note adds weight to the argument that it is high time for Christians to leave public schools for reasonable alternatives (homeschooling and private Christian schools)."

Yep. It's all good for Christians to preach the gospel and tell others how they're going to hell, but once other religions start trying to spread their own beliefs, well... That's just unreasonable! Let's get our kids out of these damned heathen schools!

Wasn't Jesus well known for only hanging with his clique and isolating himself from everyone who didn't follow him? Yeah, I think that was it... Shunning everyone who isn't of the same mind sounds very christian to me.
posted by splice at 10:55 AM on December 8, 2006


I'm in CVille, I'll see if I can attend.
posted by Fruny at 10:59 AM on December 8, 2006


It always amazes me how ignorant Christians are about the fact that many of their religious practices are pagan practices that were co-opted and Christianized by the church.
posted by SBMike at 12:30 PM on December 8, 2006


Oh, and frankly I'm disappointed in Rob Boston's tone in that article.

Yeah, come to think of it, I wish he'd spend more time discussing how absurd this whole thing is. Sometimes I am in awe that mankind is the leading species on the planet.

I mean, look at what we spend our time getting so worked up about: which fairy is the right fairy to beleive in. None of them are talking to me, so I'd just assume forget about them all and move on with my life.
posted by mgorsuch at 12:45 PM on December 8, 2006


This whole concept just confirms my fear that, as a UU, I don't want my kid discussing his religion at school. I don't want all the little Christians shaming him because he's "different".
posted by hipaa_chik at 2:36 PM on December 8, 2006


For sure, and in the meteorology chapter in science class, they can devote one day to science and the other 30 days to the alternatives -- astrology, dowsing, trephining, etc.

Why? Whether you're a theist or not, the study of religion as a sociocultural phenomenon is perfectly appropriate for schools.

It's not one religion, nofundy, but a group of related religions and beliefs (generally based on what is suposed about pre-Christian aka "pagan" (in the rustic sense) religions in Europe). And while I may quibble with some of their historical claims (the knowledge of pre-Christian European beliefs is far more tenuous than most pagans believe and the history of witchcraft persecution is widely misunderstood in the pagan community),

Ye Gods and little fishes, I could not agree with you more. I am sick and bloody tired of neo-Pagans trying to argue unbroken lines of transmission, when roughly 99% of the neo-Pagan movement is derived from poor scholarship and/or wishful thinking and/or Gerald Gardner's whole-cloth inventions.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:40 PM on December 8, 2006


What are you, some kind of Constitution-lover or something?

I'm not a lawyer, but I don't see how this decision violates the constitution or bill of rights. There probably should be discussion on whether or not the same channel a school uses for official school-related and academic announcements should be available for announcements from the community, but unless the school fails to distinguish them (or discriminates between one group and another on any basis other than whether or not the activity is legal) I can't see how it'd be a constitutional question. Certainly not one related to the establishment of religion.

That said, a better avenue for these announcement is probably where advertising is done (and paid for), or where other community calendars are kept.
posted by namespan at 3:22 PM on December 8, 2006


(or discriminates between one group and another on any basis other than whether or not the activity is legal)

The school is implicitly discriminating between one group and another on the basis of who approaches them with material. Until the pagans joined in, it was just the Christians. Now it's the pagans and the Christians, but not the Hindus, Buddhists, or atheists.

You can say that that's the fault of the area's Hindu's Buddhists and atheists, and not the school's responsibility, but that approach virtually ensures exclusive Christian access for most of America.
posted by gurple at 4:38 PM on December 8, 2006


It's a damn shame that religion isn't taught in school. It should be a component of a Sociology class ("Social Studies"? Is that still being taught?) and the bible should get no more emphasis than the koran, the bhagavad gita, the pali canon, and a thorough study of the pagan roots of modern christian traditions.

Religious parents don't want worthwhile theological study to happen in schools, they just want the school to conveniently indoctrinate the children on their behalf.
posted by mullingitover at 4:41 PM on December 8, 2006


I find the whole situation ridiculous. Grade school is not a place for religious indoctrination, nor is high school. Kids should not have to spar with the questions that have frustrated philosophers for centuries, nor should they be asked to blindly accept something that they might not understand as a matter of faith.

If parents want to teach their kids religion at home, that's their business. But it should not be the practice of public schools to advocate for any religion; pagan, Christian, Hindu, whatever.

If they want to send kids to private schools for this education, fine, but in my world, classes involving religious debate shouldn't be taught till college. When the student is adult enough to make their own educated decisions.

Of course, in my world money grows on trees, cats are the best physicists, and everyone refers to me as 'Pharaoh quin', so I may not be the best judge of reality.
posted by quin at 4:47 PM on December 8, 2006


I think this is a subtle protest, and a way to have the policy reverted. The Pagans had to know that sending a flyer home with a pentagram on it would make fundies lose it.
posted by found dog one eye at 5:36 PM on December 8, 2006


The school is implicitly discriminating between one group and another on the basis of who approaches them with material.

That obviously isn't tenable.

Until the pagans joined in, it was just the Christians. Now it's the pagans and the Christians, but not the Hindus, Buddhists, or atheists

Clearly, the Hindus, Buddhists, and Atheists need some more appealing holidays.

Kids should not have to spar with the questions that have frustrated philosophers for centuries,

Probably not in elementary school, but I'd bet many kids are already thinking about some of the questions by their early teens, some probably earlier. You have to eventually come to grips with some of these questions just by being a living human being, and adolescence isn't necessarily the time of greatest intellectual sophistication, but you can't help but notice certain things by then.

I also just tend to think it doesn't hurt to expose kids to the fact that different members of the community have different religious beliefs. I had teachers who were Christians and creationists who'd mention it in class... and then go ahead and teach evolution. I had teachers who were atheists who'd occasionally toss in digs at religious believers... and then talk about religious contributions to social development or explain biblical allusions in literature. Nobody was required to believe the same things, nobody was being indoctrinated, we just periodically found out that our teachers were individual human beings with their own points of view.

I don't have kids, so I guess I don't really know if I'd freak out if I knew the Southern Baptists or Wiccans were handing out flyers at school, but it's hard for me to imagine being threatened just by knowing kids were getting invitations to come participate from religious organizations in the community. Hell, I don't even know if I'd get upset if the Objectivist Fan Club was handing out flyers for the Fountainhead-Atlas-Shrugged Costume parties. I'd want my kids to get my permission before going to any such thing, but having them know about it? Doesn't seem like a problem to me.
posted by namespan at 5:41 PM on December 8, 2006


I bet the Liberty Counsel people are pretty thrilled about this.

They probably never thought they'd have the UUs endorsing their view of free speech, and I can't imagine they're too scared of the competition, evangelicals being more than a little more successful than UUs at that particular game.

The home-schooling movement won't go much of anywhere until home-schoolers are refunded their public school taxes. That will make home-schooling economically viable for a lot more people.
posted by MattD at 8:07 PM on December 8, 2006


FWIW they have a Philosophy of Religion class at USAFA in which the cadets are required to go to three religious services which are outside their own faith. And USAFA is about as government school as you get.
posted by konolia at 8:17 PM on December 8, 2006


namespan writes "What are you, some kind of Constitution-lover or something?

"I'm not a lawyer, but I don't see how this decision violates the constitution or bill of rights."


I think the point that the orginal commenter was making was that this sort of inclusionist policy is absolutely and completely following the guidelines of the US constitution. I think you may have missed a /sarcasm tag somewhere.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:58 PM on December 8, 2006


Teach the majority about the minorities. Don't forget FSM day and also Atheism Day. Personally I'd rather have my kid be studying science in school, but whatchoo gonna do.
posted by DenOfSizer at 2:58 PM GMT on December 8 [+] [!]


I did not forget atheism.

We teach our children about the world, and learning what other people believe is a part of that. Science is great, but would you say that people shouldn't learn why people do things? Understanding religions is a big part of this, along with history, economics, sociology...
posted by jb at 6:11 AM on December 9, 2006


Bardic, Ugarites did not sacrifice infants to Baal.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:44 AM on December 9, 2006


Falwell was the asshole that created the program, but the Pagans are being a bit of a taint about it.

Doing something your opponent does to get back at him does nothing for the children.
posted by tehloki at 9:45 AM on December 9, 2006


Well, that was interesting. From my thoroughly agnostic point of view, I honestly don't understand how people can be offended by anything I heard and saw there. I can only offer my pity to them.
posted by Fruny at 12:32 PM on December 9, 2006


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