Rules Are for Schmucks: Satan Goes to School

Exasperated teachers have been known to suspect that the kid in the back row is Satan himself, or the spawn of Satan, or perhaps someone who could teach Satan a few lessons in creative mischief. What they have not had to put up with, so far, are coloring books handed out in school encouraging children to become more Satanic. That may be changing now, thanks to the misguided efforts of God experts to use our schools as propaganda machines.

An outfit called World Changers of Florida has for some time been given full access to school facilities so they can distribute Bibles to students in Orange County, Florida. When Floridians who believe government shouldn’t be promoting religion complained, they were condescendingly told that the schools weren’t promoting anything—they were just providing an “open forum” for the dissemination of ideas.

The citizens then challenged the open forum ploy by asking to distribute their own Bible-related material—including a little volume called An X-Rated Book: Sex & Obscenity in the Bible. It turns out the open forum wasn’t so open after all—the school district denied their request, and a lawsuit quickly followed. The school district’s lawyers realized that the Bible-only distribution policy couldn’t possibly prevail, so it caved in and granted permission for distribution of the secularists’ X-Rated Bible—an outcome that the Christian press proclaimed as a victory for Bible distribution.

Their elation was short-lived. Another group came along wanting to distribute its own religious materials—the Satanic Temple, which said it simply wanted to “ensure that these students are given access to a variety of differing religious opinions.” The differing opinions they had in mind included a coloring book called The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities. The Temple’s spokesman mildly observed that “We think many students will be very curious to see what we offer.”

As intended, this got the school district’s knickers in a twist; 11,000 emails from angry parents followed. So last month, the district came up with a stunningly brilliant idea: a new rule stating that “materials of a denominational, sectarian, religious, political and partisan nature shall not be permitted to be distributed” in the schools. What a concept!

It’s a rule that should be considered in other school districts, which seem intent on brainwashing their students as to what a wonderful religion Islam is. Maryland’s La Plata High School, for example, forces students to write out statements that the prophet Muhammad was visited by the angel Gabriel, and to complete sentences such as “Men are the managers of the affairs of women,” and “Righteous women are therefore obedient.” When one father complained, he was barred from school property; his daughter, who refused to write those statements, was given a failing grade.

In North Carolina, a similar high school course forces students to fill in blanks as shown in the underlined portions below:

Islam, at heart, is a peaceful religion.
Most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian.
Beginning in the 1970s and 1980s Islam remerged [sic] as a potent political force associated with both reform and revolution.
Nowhere in the Qur’an does it say you will go to paradise if you martyr yourself with a suicide bomb.

The last item is especially disingenuous, because of course there were no bombs of any kind when the Qur’an was written. The Qur’an is crystal clear, though, that martyrdom fighting for Allah guarantees you a spot in paradise. But that’s not mentioned in the assignment.

Many humanists think it’s a fine idea to teach children about religion in public schools. Even Richard Dawkins likes the idea of teaching about the Bible for its literary value. The problem is, though, that it’s not possible to prevent ordinary human being teachers from injecting their own personal beliefs into such a class, especially when there is so much pressure from the God experts to do exactly that. The other problem is that clever lawyers will do all they can to push the envelope, going as far toward proselytizing as the rules will allow (or perhaps a little further, given the fuzziness of the line). That’s what the billionaire Green family, the owners of Hobby Lobby, is attempt to do by spending tons of money developing an elective course called “The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact” with plans to spread it to thousands of public high schools.

The Greens’ plans suffered a setback last month, when the Oklahoma school district which had agreed to launch the course as a pilot project suddenly reneged. It seems there were some irregularities in the lobbying campaign that led to its original approval, that the Greens didn’t want to have to litigate about. Rest assured, though, that they didn’t invest millions of dollars in this project just to let it drop, and that it will re-emerge in another district in the near future.

Those of us who are simple-minded prefer simple rules, like the new rule in Orange County, Florida. Schools should be magic-free zones. No Bible courses, no Satan coloring books, no flunking students for not praising Islam. There is an overwhelming abundance of information available on the internet, the radio, the television, and your local tax-exempt church for any student who has any interest in learning voluntarily about any aspect of any religion—there’s no reason why schools have to be involved. Society does need to force-feed young people some things, like how to read, how to do math, and how to function as productive citizens. Our schools should concentrate on those basics, and let the God experts recruit future customers by themselves.