Being a Religious Minority (in Public Schools)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  October 4, 2012 — 86 Comments

What’s it like to be a religious minority in a Christian-dominated culture? Jews on First has published a must-read in-depth exploration of what it’s like for Jewish students going to public schools in the South, consistently exposed to peer pressure and conversion attempts by their Christian classmates, behavior often (directly and indirectly) supported by faculty.

Hint: The "Fifth Quarter" is about Jesus.

Hint: The “Fifth Quarter” is about Jesus.

“It can be the little stuff, like my classmates wishing me to have a ‘blessed day’. I know that really means that Jesus blesses you,” says Jane. “I have a friend who introduces me as her ‘Jewish friend, Jane’. It’s always in your face. Not a day goes by that I’m not reminded that I’m a Jew.” [..] One parent relates how his son would eat breakfast in the school cafeteria when a group of athletes would come in and “perform” for the students. “They would basically lift weights for about 30 minutes,” then go to the microphone and “announce that Christ helped them become athletes. After five or 10 minutes of sermon, they would pray and leave,” but meanwhile the students eating breakfast were not allowed to leave the cafeteria and were obviously a captive audience with no option to “not hear.”

Because court rulings have largely forbade faculty and staff from directly proselytizing, local churches use various tricks like the aforementioned “performance” to introduce stealth missionary work into the student body. One Rabbi in Atlanta notes that Christian students are urged by their churches to work towards the conversion of non-Christian students.

“…according to Rabbi Greene, one of the largest evangelical churches in Atlanta’s northern suburbs, the Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, even provides literature to its young members about “how to approach your Jewish friends.” He calls the effort “love bombing.” Rabbi Shalom Lewis of Congregation Etz Chaim, which isn’t far from Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, agrees that ‘they are very aggressive in their proselytizing and will teach Christianity to anyone who will listen. One of my former Hebrew School students came to me recently and said he accepted Christ; he’s confused.'”

In public school systems that are religiously and culturally diverse, the issue of student conversions is almost non-existent, evangelical Christian students are simply one voice among several; but when your school is in a region dominated by mission-minded Christians, the tone and tenor of student interactions suddenly changes. Instead of one voice, Christianity becomes the only voice, the dominant voice, among the student body. Those who don’t fit into that template find themselves consistently battered by the expectation that they too will fall in line. Christian leaders in these areas are well aware of this power, which is why they fight for state constitutional amendments that open “the door for coercive prayer and proselytizing” and “religious freedom” laws that they know will benefit the majority at the expense of minorities.

Join us. Jooooooiiiiin ussssssss.

Join us. Jooooooiiiiin ussssssss.

Public schools are supposed to be secular by design, they have to serve the needs of all students, not simply those who are in the majority. These initiatives by local churches and missionary groups are trying to “game” the system by turning the student body into a peer pressure engine against non-Christian students. These are not natural conversion experiences that arise after deep contemplation or introspection, this is the equivalent of religious bullying, turning all those who resist into social outsiders. The experience of these Jewish students and parents is shared by other religious minorities in deeply Christian areas of the country, including modern Pagans. Sadly, these students often have to turn to outside help, or even litigation, to make sure their own religious autonomy is respected, as the faculty and staff are often sympathetic to these conversion efforts.

Christians, if they truly want to see earnest conversions among non-Christian populations, need to understand that these tactics do nothing but create ill will and adversarial feelings among parents and non-Christian religious leaders. It makes them the enemy, and they turn the message of Christ into a sort of bludgeon in which to control behavior they don’t like.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • http://twitter.com/MayahCrow Mayah Crow

    This sort of behavior seriously frightens me. What’s worse, in some areas they even try to “convert” people who are simply of a different Christian denomination, particularly Catholics. My Catholic family was horrified when my cousin started college and some Evangelical Protestants tried to “save” her, telling her that she wasn’t even Christian (history saying contrarywise, of course). I wish they’d realize how much like the Borg they are behaving, and how that probably drives away a lot of people.

  • http://www.miraselena.com/ Miraselena

    Having lived a Jewish life in multiple parts of the country…Living in Atlanta now and working with Lady Liberty League on School equality in our region, I can’t even begin to respond in a concise way… This falls into the category of “don’t get me started.” Thanks for the read.

  • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

    “Christians, if they truly want to see earnest conversions among non-Christian populations, need to understand that these tactics do nothing but create ill will and adversarial feelings among parents and non-Christian religious leaders”
    The thing is, they don’t care whose toes they step on, so long as they get to “save” people. Cohersion for Christ, is still after all for Christ. The fact that the Rabbi mentions one of his students was receptive to their message simply means it is an effective recruitment strategy. So what if people’s civil liberties are crushed, or those who refuse to get with the “winning team” are ostracized, they’re doing the work of their god.
    Everything comes second to their “noble” purpose.

    • Harmony Toenniessen

      Too true. Never forget that in the past Christians *embraced* using brute force to achieve ‘conversions.’ Only the current semi-secular climate keeps them restricted to ‘subtler’ tactics. If ever the times change enough to put more Christian-friendly laws into effect, you’d better believe you’ll see forced conversion at spear – oops, I should say, gun! – point. After all, it’s for your own good and the glory of God and Country, so it must be okay!

  • Dver

    The quote on that poster is just sad: “If a person does not accept Jesus Christ as Savior before the age of 14, the likelihood of ever doing so is slim.” Seems like they’re acknowledging right there that their religion is so weak that few adults (who are wiser, more educated and more experienced than teenagers) would ever voluntarily adopt it. The only way to get people to be Christians is to indoctrinate them before they are old enough to think for themselves? I mean, sure that’s what it seems like to *me* but it’s amazing that they admit it so openly and can’t see anything wrong with that.

    • CrystalK

      Being “childlike” is considered a virtue to these people. Seriously, they quote Matthew 18:3 ‘And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like
      little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ So, yeah it’s seriously nuts.

  • stephanie barnard

    “Christians, if they truly want to see earnest conversions among
    non-Christian populations, need to understand that these tactics do
    nothing but create ill will and adversarial feelings among parents and
    non-Christian religious leaders.” …It’s a great thought. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that the majority of them don’t care if they create ill will because in their mind, they are right and the rest of the world is wrong.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      “in their mind, they are right and the rest of the world is wrong.”
      In that regard, is anyone of religious belief any different? If you thought that your stance was wrong, you would change. Wouldn’t you?

      I know I would.

      • Nick Ritter

        I don’t think that necessarily follows, Léoht, if one’s stance doesn’t have anything to do with one’s religion being the only possible path to truth. I am sincere in my religious beliefs and practices, and I do believe that the religion I practice is the best one I could practice: but it is not my stance that my religion is for everyone.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          I never said that my religion is for everyone, but I do think that Christians are wrong when they claim that theirs is the one, true, God. I also think that people who believes the gods exist solely as aspects of the collective subconscious are wrong.

          There are lots of points of disagreement to be had.

          I just don’t feel a particular need to convince everyone that I am right.

          • A. Nonymous

            “I just don’t feel a particular need to convince everyone that I am right”
            And that’s precisely the difference between you and “Christians”, “Muslims” and others who DO believe that they have a duty to convert you.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I know.

            Of course, anyone trying to convert me can go forth upon the earth and be fruitful.

      • Mia

        Mine isn’t. My “religion” focuses on my immediate surroundings and interactions within them, acted out through my hearth culture. It’s not concerned with other people outside of my family (in the ancestor-worship context), therefore the “inferior/superior” debate is moot.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          right/wrong does not equate to inferior/superior.

          • Mia

            Alright then, the “right/wrong” debate is moot because I am not concerned with what is “right” or “wrong” for everyone else. I do not pass absolute judgements.
            Hell, I don’t even know if what I’M doing is right or wrong. It’s not like there’s a reference book to check with. So even within my own religion the debate is moot.

          • Faoladh

            In what way is something that is wrong not also inferior?

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            When you add in the qualifier “I believe”.

            “I believe Christians are wrong when they state that there is only one god.”

            I can’t actually prove my statement, it is really no different to a Christian saying “I believe Lēoht is wrong when he states that there are multiple gods.”

            Neither stance is superior, without evidence. Just different (but equal).

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1006464595 Cathryn Bauer

        I am different. I believe implicitly that faith is an individual prerogative. I hold beliefs that are strong, but that doesn’t mean they’re for everyone. Even when I was 14 years old and struggling to fit myself into the Christian mold, I could not bring myself to say that Christ was innately superior to religious figures that came from other cultures such as Buddhism or Islam. (I learned to keep that opinion quiet pretty quickly, but never abandoned it.) A decade or so later into that struggle, I was saying that as a Western person, I felt a Western path was right for me, but that didn’t make it the one way for everyone.

  • http://www.gopagan.com/ GOPagan

    On the one hand, the school itself should have no part in endorsing or assisting such efforts. The inability of the one kid to leave breakfast where the Jesus-izing was going on is a prime example.

    On the other hand, in a pluralistic society, people *do* have the right to share their own religious faith with others, even kids in school as long as it’s not disruptive. The mere fact that there are a lot of them “love bombing” a particular non-Christian is, alas, besides the point. They have the same right to free speech as we do, and they don’t lose that right just because they’re in a majority and choose to exercise it in a way that makes others feel uncomfortable.

    That said, I wait for the day when something like that happens to my own daughter, currently in middle school. I will be exercising my own freedom of expression with the parents of the kids in question…

    • Souris Optique

      “The mere fact that there are a lot of them “love bombing” a particular non-Christian is, alas, besides the point.”

      Stalking and harassment is generally not considered a “free speech” issue.
      Is it your opinion that groups of students should be allowed to continually and regularly harass one student for ANY reason? Would it still be freedom of speech if a large group were harassing them about their clothing choices, or is it only the fact that it’s RELIGIOUS harassment that makes it ok in your eyes?

      • http://www.gopagan.com/ GOPagan

        To take one of the examples in Jason’s original post, I wouldn’t say that saying “have a ‘blessed day’” counts as harassment or stalking. As members of minority faiths, we might not like the fact that the majority gets to apply peer pressure, but the way to counter that is to give our children tools to deal with it, rather than appealing to government fiat.

        Bear in mind that the same First Amendment protection that allows you and I to be Pagan/Heathen/etc. also does afford religious speech with somewhat greater protection than non-religious speech.

        Frankly, I value the protection afforded by the First Amendment too much to see it eroded in any way, even when doing so seems to help me in the short term. In the longer term, everyone is harmed when the government decides what parts of religious expression are and are not acceptable. If they can stop a Christian kid from telling someone about Jesus, they can stop a Heathen kid from telling someone else about Thor or a Wiccan kid telling someone about the Goddess. I decline to give the government that authority over my Constitutional rights.

        Every school already has rules against bullying and harassment. If the behavior falls within those guidelines, it should be dealt with appropriately. But the mere fact that Christians are sharing their faith with non-Christians does not automatically make it “harassment”, as you would seem to have it.

        • Mia

          ” I wouldn’t say that saying “have a ‘blessed day’” counts as harassment or stalking”

          Context matters. If the person is saying that to random people as a habit and not singling anyone out, then you would be right.

          If the person was pointedly saying that towards a particular person that is known to not be Christian (or their preferred branch of Christianity), essentially going out of their way to say such a thing, then that is harassment and needs to be dealt with as such. Especially if it is in conjunction with other actions designed to single out a particular person or group on the basis of a protected class.

          Granted, this is from a Wisconsin perspective, but if I recall correctly this specificity counts at the federal level too.

          • Bookhousegal

            That’s actually true: actually *as* a Pagan, I just tend to respond to random blessings with a ‘Blessed be,’ even if I realize a moment later, when there’s supposed to be some edge or recognition-signal thing behind it. Of course, as an adult, that’s very different from being outnumbered at school.

            Definitely, context matters. Oftentimes Christians use ‘blessings’ as a matter of dominance or territory, or perhaps just assuming that if they like you you must be Christian, too… since that’s the only place they really think blessings come from, and all.

            In the abstract, though, sometimes blessings are just being nice, and I tend to return em in that spirit, even if they don’t know where they’re coming from.

            It’s definitely a false equivalency (And that comes from over-individualized notions of how life realy is, I think) to think that it’s ‘just the same’ though as if some Pagan kid would be ‘doing just the same’ talking about their religion, as opposed to a bunch of kids put up to ‘missionizing’ running their game on minority students. That’s just not how life, or particularly *school* actually is.

        • Souris Optique

          “I wouldn’t say that saying “have a ‘blessed day’” counts as harassment or stalking,”

          Neither would I, which is why I didn’t.
          Nor did I EVER say that “Christians sharing their faith with non-Christians” “automatically makes it harassment.”

          My post is right there for you or anyone else to reread. I don’t know what you think you gain for misrepresenting my points that way, when it’s clear I never said any of the things you claim.

          A large number of students targeting and singling out a particular student for “love bombing” as they call it is what you said was “beside the point” and what I characterize as stalking and harassment. That is not similar to “telling someone” about any god you choose to name.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      People do NOT have a “right” to share their faith with kids in school. Children of that age have been a protected class since the Fifties; most of the progress since then have been on the order of “Yes, we really mean it.” Evidently each new generation needs to learn it the hard way all over again.

      • http://www.gopagan.com/ GOPagan

        Bear in mind this isn’t about teachers or other adults (which I already said was inappropriate in my comment). If you’re saying kids don’t have a right to share their faith with other kids in public schools, that’s simply not accurate. Kids are “protected” from authority figures like teachers, administrators, coaches, and adults. They are not “protected” (in the sense of the term you use) from other kids.

        Its just like the canard that prayer has been banned from public schools. What was banned was *school led* prayer. Kids are allowed to pray as long as it’s not disruptive, and do so all the time.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          Stuff like that athletic “performance” have not been orchestrated by the kids. It’s done with teacher coordination and almost certainly at the behest of a church in town. Verboten.
          As far as kids talking to each other, I recall a case in which a kid wouldn’t stop “witnessing” to classmates on school grounds during the school day. The school made him stop.
          In recent anti-gay-bullying policies an attempt was made to exempt “sincerely held religious beliefs,” so you couldn’t say “Fags are sick” but you could say “Fags go to Hell.” That attempt was turned back.
          Protected class.

          • http://www.gopagan.com/ GOPagan

            I’ve already said forcing kids to go through that “performance” thing was inappropriate, and your second example is clearly “disruptive”, which I’ve already pointed out is not allowed. So I’m not sure why you’re jousting with those particular straw-men, but your reply has nothing to do with my comment.

            As far as kids being “protected” from other kids (other than disruptive behavior, as noted above, multiple times), I refer you to Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, which says:

            “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

            The Supreme Court decision goes on to say:

            “They [the students] caused discussion outside of the classrooms, but no interference with work and no disorder. In the circumstances, our Constitution does not permit officials of the State to deny their form of expression.”

            So while you’re right that students are a protected class when it comes to authority figures at the school, you are dead wrong when it comes to them being “protected” (in that sense) from other kids. No matter how much you might wish it otherwise, the actual facts are against your position, I’m afraid.

          • Baruch Deamstalker

            Alas, a later SCOTUS decision undermined Tinker. Kids do not have the right to air disagreement with Drug War policy, and are once more shorn of constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door.

          • http://www.gopagan.com/ GOPagan

            Presumably you’re referring to Morse v. Frederick (the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case– by the way, would it be too much to ask that you cite specific cases rather than making vague assertions? It would make correcting your false statements just that much easier.) If not, please do point me to the case you’re talking about.

            Your assertion that some rights were “shorn” from school children doesn’t actually match the facts of the case. In that particular instance, it was ruled by the Supreme Court that the student in question did not have First Amendment protection for his statements because he was advocating an illegal activity (drug use) and the school had a compelling interest in deterring such.

            Nothing in Tinker said anything about the rights of students to advocate breaking the law at official school events, and thus nothing in Tinker was “shorn” away by Morse v Frederick. All the rights that existed outside or inside the schoolhouse door were untouched by that decision. Including the right to express themselves (short of advocating breaking the law) in a non-disruptive manner outside of instructional time, under the protection of the First Amendment.

            Honestly, you need to get better at checking sources. One advantage of being a recon, I suppose; I learned long ago that you have to look to the actual source material to actually figure out what’s going on, rather than relying on second-hand analysis. ;-)

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            By saying they are not allowed to advocate ‘breaking the law’, you show they do not have free speech.

          • Cat C-B

            Kids in school do, in fact, have more restrictions on their freedom of speech than do adults outside of school. This is surprising how?

            Frankly, I’m not opposed to limiting free speech in school. I regularly inform my students that they are free to hold whatever opinions they wish around members of other races, religions, or sexual orientation… but I do not permit gay bashing or racist speech in my classroom, and ignoring that fact will have disciplinary consequences.

            There, speech is restricted because it would be disruptive to the educational environment to do otherwise.

            School kids are protected against religious speech on the part of teachers and staff by law (though, oddly enough, not all adults observe the law, and yes, Christianists are prime offenders here) because public schools are an arm of government. As a public school teacher, I can’t witness for Herne because that would represent an unconsititutional governmental establishment of religion.

            However, no such restriction on kids witnessing on behalf of the religion of their choice exists, provided it is not disruptive to the school environment or rising to a level of actual harassment and bullying. And before we get too bent out of shape about Christian kids who get to say, “Have a blessed day,” I think we’d better think long and hard about whether we want to open the door to disciplinary action against Wiccan kids who say “Blessed be.”

            ‘Cause you know who those restrictions on student expression of religion are going to target first, right?

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I never expressed a judgement. Merely a point of fact. Children’s speech is restricted. Mind you, so is everyone else’s.

          • http://www.gopagan.com/ GOPagan

            Please see the comment I just addressed to Baruch Dreamstalker. It applies directly to your comment as well.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I am unsure how. My comment was a lot more vague. I simply pointed out that you showed there are limitations of speech (without repercussion). Regardless of location.

          • myownashram

            GOPagan, I agree with most everything you’ve said here. Of course, it would be grand if we didn’t have to parse SCOTUS cases to gauge behaviour for our students. But not everyone can be raised with religious manners, I suppose. I also have young children, one entering kindergarten next year and I’ve wondered how things will play out. I’m hoping being in a liberal town helps, but after living in Berkeley, I know that’s not always helpful!

            One last thing, I feel like this last comment, referencing Morse v Frederick, just brought everything full circle for me. That’s the high school I attended as a student under Morse (although in a different decade) and the same school I later worked at under Morse (just a few years before Frederick). I think my Wild Hunt experience is now complete.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            If there is one topic on which school kids don’t have free speech, they don’t have it, period. Every comment I saw on “Bong Hits” that mentioned Tinker, said this.
            Thank you for coming up with a more precise reference to the case; it eluded me when I wrote the earlier comment.

          • http://www.gopagan.com/ GOPagan

            Utter nonsense. You don’t have the right to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. That doesn’t mean you don’t have freedom of speech. Just because children don’t have the right to advocate illegal activities that the school has a vested interest in combating at an official school function, doesn’t mean they don’t have freedom of speech, either.

            Please do yourself a favor and read the actual SCOTUS opinions, and not comments about them.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            “You don’t have the right to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. That doesn’t mean you don’t have freedom of speech.”
            Yes, it does.

            Freedom is either absolute or non existent. The argument is not about whether free speech exists, but whether free speech should exist.

            Not an argument I am particularly interested in pursuing here, either.

      • Rhoanna

        What exactly do you mean by “protected class”? The context I’ve mostly heard that term in is with regard to discrimination (namely, characteristics one can’t discriminate based on), which obviously isn’t what you mean.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          No, I mean they are regarded as too early in their formation to put up with the full blast of opinion that, eg, college students are.

    • kenneth

      The problem is, they’re not exercising it in the same sense of a “free marketplace of ideas” model as adults experience when hearing, say, a sidewalk preacher. These kids are not free to walk away in most of these situations. There is also a clear element of intimidation. Kids who don’t go along with the program are targets for bullying, often with the tacit consent of the adults who are supposed to be in charge of the school.

      • http://www.gopagan.com/ GOPagan

        Of course a kid is free to walk away– when the speech is being initiated by other students. When the religious speech is being coerced (such as in the breakfast thing noted above), then it becomes an unconstitutional act, because it’s being coerced by the school itself. Same principle as prayers at commencement addresses.

        If such behavior crosses the line from religious speech to bullying, then all the normal rules regarding bullying would apply, of course. But my point is that religious speech from one student to another, even from many students to another, does not in and of itself constitute bullying, or harassment, and is thus protected.

        As far as I know, the Supreme Court hasn’t examined a case with this specific dynamic, but the principles it has upheld (some of which I’ve cited here in the comments with other folks in a really great discussion, I might add) support the idea that it’s completely within the law for kids to talk about religion amongst themselves, as long as it’s not disruptive to the educational mission of the school. If speech becomes harassment or bullying, that’s a different story, but it doesn’t automatically qualify as such just because there’s a majority talking to a minority.

        • harmonyfb

          Of course a kid is free to walk away– when the speech is being initiated by other students.
          Not always. My oldest daughter had a high school teacher who would allow the Christian kids to verbally harass the non-Christians in class (with the stated intent of ‘shutting them up’)when evolution was discussed. Student-initiated speech, but my daughter could not walk away. Ditto for the students who verbally harassed my daughter for observing the silent day for GLBT youth – during class and during a student event in the gym. She couldn’t get up and “walk away” from those, either (and yes, they were religiously motivated.)

          In addition, in certain schools, students can’t leave the lunchroom during lunch – so any students “performing” thinly veiled preaching have the rest of the room as a captive audience.
          (And let’s not get into the teacher who transparently favored his ‘Christian Student Union’ kids over non-Christians, or the ‘get out of class and go have pizza if you listen to the Christian speaker and join the Christian Student Union – events where non-Christians had to stay in class and work, or the gospel choir funded by the school who did most of their performances in churches, or the hoops I had to jump through to get an excused absence for her for religious reasons – when Christians have to jump through no such hoops. Grr.)

          • Cat C-B

            In those cases, the school is in the wrong… not the students. By restricting the freedom of the student to leave a setting, or by permitting harassment in a setting like a classroom where all students must be present, the school is acting to establish religion. And that’s where the train goes off the tracks.

            The problem arises when teachers and school staff refuse to acknowledge that they are promoting one religion over others, and thereby in violation of the United States Constitution. Of course, if their religious convictions are such that they override their respect for the Constitution, they should certainly disobey the law–and then be fired for it, and removed from the role as an employee of the government that is so at odds with their religion.

          • harmonyfb

            In those cases, the school is in the wrong… not the students.
            Cat, the students were in the wrong, as well, because their speech was clearly harassing in nature. Just because it’s ‘student initiated’ doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. If their parents can’t be bothered to teach them how to behave in a diverse society, then the school needs to step it up.
            Unfortunately, certain Christian sects have a vested interest in encouraging children to harass their classmates.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=690580325 Terence Patrick Ward

    If children don’t accept Jesus by 14, the chances of them doing so is slim . . . isn’t there a similar statistic about smoking cigarettes?

    • http://www.gopagan.com/ GOPagan

      I noticed that too. So I’ve only got a few more years to protect my daughter from the clutches of the Jesus folks, and then she’s home free.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kargach Rob Henderson

      You beat me to it!

    • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

      Actual honest-to-Bonewits CULTS, like the Moonies and $cientology, specialize in getting college students. Guess they don’t make evangelists like they used to (thank whoever!)

      • Martin Anthony

        Put Christianity up against Bonewits’s cult evaluation frame, and it is seen to be a cult.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          The common definition of a cult is that it is the adulation of a personality/person (rather than of a god.)

          You’ll find that several of the major world religions fit that definition – Christianity, Mohammedist Islam, Buddhism…

  • CrystalK

    It’s these tactics that are turning their main deity into the punchline of a joke for a good chunk of the non religiously rabid in the country. Also notice how violence and militarism perpetuates the culture of certain factions of Christian. The phrase “love bombing” is testament that even love and caring for their fellow humans must be doled out with a sword.

    • CrystalK

      That should have said “permeates” not “perpetuates”.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        Both work equally well.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      Does the term ‘lovebomb’ make anyone else think of the phrase ‘glamourbomb’?

      • http://www.xkcd.com/285 Eran Rathan

        Absolutely. They tried pulling this crap at my high school (which, granted, this was close to twenty years ago now), and we (the group of us who were pagan, Wiccan, and generally not interested) responded with a rousing rendition of “The Masochism Tango” performed on the lunch tables in response. Laughter is the best weapon against actions like that.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          I keep meaning to make up a batch of glamourbombs and go to the local bookstore’s Bible section…

    • Northern_Light_27

      So… do they not know “lovebombing” is a term used in ex-cult counseling (to describe the period of time when a new recruit is besieged with attention and kindness by cult members, the carrot before the stick of the cult’s obey-us-or-else discipline), or what?

  • http://www.facebook.com/LiamPBoyle Liam Boyle

    I dread the day this subject comes up with my son in public school.

    • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

      Right there with you. -_-

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Your final paragraph is most interesting. I wonder if there are stats on how effective this kind of conversion effort is.
    Good to see you back in the saddle, Jason!

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

    “We are Christians. Lower your defences and surrender your souls. We will add your individual distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.”

    • A. Nonymous

      You forgot the “exterimate! exterminate!” part. :)

  • http://twitter.com/dmkraig Donald Michael Kraig

    “Christians, if they truly want to see earnest conversions among non-Christian populations, need to understand that these tactics do nothing but create ill will and adversarial feelings…”

    Unfortunately, their mind-set is such that no matter how many times you say that, no matter how many ways you explain it, they cannot understand it. It’s like the famous book “Flatland,” where the main character comes back from a 3D world and tries to describe it to friends and family in the 2D world. They think he’s crazy.

    Trying to tell those Christians with this mind-set that they’re alienating people is like trying to tell an exclusive carnivore that fruits and vegetables taste good. It makes no sense. How can sharing the “Good News” be alienating?

    There are none so blind as those who will not see.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=586268271 Makarios Ofiesh

      I suppose that a lot depends on how one defines “earnest conversion.” There are a goodly number of Christian denominations that believe that one is “saved” simply be reciting (with intention) the “Sinner’s Prayer.” (You can find it in many of the Chick tracts–also, Google is your friend).
      As it says, on one website, ‘
      If you read the sinners prayer and truly believe the words
      you read, then Praise the Lord, as you have been saved and your name will
      appear in the “Lambs Book of Life.”’ I wonder if those people realize that this is very close to a protection spell, rather than what one might call a “conversion” in any meaningful sense of the word.
      Also, this.

      • A. Nonymous

        Oh what’s on that link is just despicable! And I’m sure Yeshua ben Yusef is rolling over in his grave at what was done to his teachings! But BRIBERY!!! YIKES!

        • Colby Glen

          Landover Baptist is a evangelical parody site. like the onion, but for Jesus.

          • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

            It is sad and telling that it is hard to tell the difference between parody and true story, though. Some of the Onion headlines I have seen I have mistaken for real ones.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=586268271 Makarios Ofiesh

    Just came across this, courtesy of Ed Brayton. ‘
    The [Christian Air Force] officer recounted his experience of being stationed in Hawaii and living in an area that was dominated by Buddhist and Shinto believers, making him a member of a small religious minority. . . . He then pleads with his fellow Christians to stop supporting the insertion of religion in public schools, telling them that “unless you’re ready to endure the unwilling exposure of yourself and your children to those beliefs and practices that your own faith forswears, you have no right to insist that others sit in silence and complicity while you do the same to them.”’

  • mokey

    As a Jew by birth, and a Witch now.. who was raised in the south I’ve had my fair share of experiences with this. It’s really a special kind of horrible to have to live through, and my experiences were mild compared to some others. I came across an old article on Witchvox called ‘how to share the gospel with pagans’ and it’s what I use now if needs be. The author is a lot more kind to Christianity than I am, but it suffices.

  • Hecate_Demetersdatter

    Jason, Thank you for doing the Goddess’s own work.

  • kenneth

    “….Christians, if they truly want to see earnest conversions among non-Christian populations, need to understand that these tactics do nothing but create ill will and adversarial feelings…

    Proselytizing Christians don’t care if they make any earnest conversions. The whole point of the exercise is to establish dominance. Their motivations and methods are no different, at root, than any prison gang or nation with imperial ambitions. They don’t care if you love them or recite their anthems with sincerity. They care that you fall in line and render unto Caesar (or the pastor as proxy for Christ). The message from Christians is “we own this place. You either join us, but either way, you jump when we say jump, or we’re going to make real problems for you.”

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      The cross or the sword.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    The “Fifth Quarter” sounds right at home with coaches who tell their players to “Give 110%”. And people ask why Americans suck at math.

  • Flyover099

    We all have problems. They can always move, perhaps to Israel where they worked incessantly to get in 1948. You know, thinking further about history, in pre and post civil war south Jews flocked and profited highly there (slavers, slave auctioneers, loans, commodity traders, rag merchants). They didn’t mind the Christians then, why now?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1006464595 Cathryn Bauer

    I’m afraid that it’s going to take sledgehammer tactics to end this and gain back our children’s constitutional rights. By that I mean a slew of very expensive lawsuits that take years, hopefully garnering much publicity. I intend to start donating to the Lady Liberty League.

    Something I have not seen discussion of is what it must be like for teachers and other school employees who do not follow the dominant religion. I suspect it’s a huge can of worms, so to speak.

    Cathryn Bauer

  • kittylu

    This article reminds me of the studies done on bullying that show that the perpetrators are often well liked, popular and protected by authority figures.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.mitchell.1276 Tim Mitchell

    For what it’s worth, a similar article appeared on AlterNet today: http://www.alternet.org/education/littlest-missionaries-new-christian-plot-invade-public-schools?page=0%2C0. The article talks about fundie groups such as Every Student Every School (ESES) that are using underage evangelism activities as a loophole around other students’ First Amendment rights. According to this article, “As ESES’s name implies, their idea is to proselytize every student in every public school in America through an aggressive “Adopt-a-School” campaign. And the way to do it is to have the kids do what grownups are not allowed to do – establish full-fledged missionary operations inside the schools. A clever map allows viewers to click on their state and type in their area code, revealing every school in the district and determine whether it has been “adopted” by churches or other religious organizations. Kids from those entities are instructed to conduct daily prayer groups during the school day, distribute religious literature and are given numerous other ideas for practicing or promoting their religion at school.”

    • Nick Ritter

      The high school in our town has been “adopted,” according to that website. I’m hoping that this sort of thing gets shut down by the time my sons get there.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        Get your sons to start their own groups.

        I firmly believe that there are only two ways to beat evangelism – out compete them or blunt trauma.

        • Cat C-B

          Indeed. For a number of years, my own school had both an active Bible club and an “Earth-centered Religions Club,” founded by the Pagan kids.

          The Pagan club has since lapsed–in part because the Pagan and Pagan-friendly teachers observed the Constitution, and stood on the point of the club being a student initiative.

          I will acknowledge that though my school otherwise has dealt with this issue very well, I do not believe our Bible club is a product of student initiative; it appears to be highly structured and organized around one specific interpretation of Christianity (never mind the Bible) and the same faculty member has been leading it since I’ve arrived. It does not meet during the school day, however, and the administration has been very careful to establish clear boundaries around not intruding into educational settings or harassing those who disagree.

          One interesting development: dual memberships between the Bible club and the Gay Straight Alliance. Not everyone in the younger generation of Christians holds to the intolerance of their elders.

        • http://www.facebook.com/tim.mitchell.1276 Tim Mitchell

          While I understand the desire to compete, it should be noted that Christians have been funneling their resources towards evangelism efforts since the religion’s earliest days. Even though its adherents claim that the money goes to charity work, the overwhelming majority of it goes to evangelism efforts both domestic and abroad. For that reason, other religions–regardless of their membership totals–are going to have a tough time rivaling such support, especially in regions where the support is intensely focused. It should also be noted that such Christians are not above abusing their tax-exempt status to break the law, as seen here: http://www.salon.com/2012/10/05/pastors_to_defy_irs_on_political_endorsements/

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I’m better with a sword than with words, but societal constraints limit my choice of weaponry.

            Just because the odds are against us, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight. If anything, it just gives us more to fight for.

  • Darkcrone

    My daughter is a freshman in high school and going through this now. Members of her marching band hold hands and pray before games. Luckily she found bandmate who is Buddhist. They hold hands separately and pray. Currently they are praying to the great llama.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    Do they care?