More and more, all over North America, and probably the world, smug, self-assured “Good Christians” are having their unthinking beliefs and systems questioned and rejected. One of the recent sore spots has been the distribution in Public Schools, of Gideons’ Bibles. The local school board took its own sweet time, but finally agreed to end the practice, after increasing complaints from Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Atheists, and even some Christians. Of course, the Christians wanted the Gideons’ Bible out, and their Bible in.
The wife’s Bible, which I have been using as a reference book for years, had started to get a little tattered. When my brother was placed in the local Catholic hospital for quintuple bypass surgery, and I visited him, he was taken from the room for a few minutes for a test. While he was gone, I looked inside his bedside drawer, and took the Gideons’ Bible that was placed there. What? They hope people take them home. Brother wouldn’t touch one, even with heart surgery, but I needed a new one.
I live in a suave, sophisticated urban area, and can even say that without giggling too hard. There are still regions in Southern Ontario which are more Bible-belt than here. Despite the tourist Mecca/casino aspects, the Niagara Region Board of Education still has not ended the Christian-only handouts. There’s even a public-funded Mennonite school. An Atheist couple had refused to sign a consent form for their daughter to receive a Bible, but were particularly incensed when she was expected to distribute them to other Grade five students.
They have officially applied to have a booklet titled Just Pretend: A Free Thought Book for Children and Losing Faith In Faith, distributed to the same students. A female newspaper columnist doesn’t understand the concept. She asks, if they object to the Bible being distributed, why would they think it’s acceptable to have this booklet handed out. This is how the Christian monopoly of the Lord’s Prayer-only in schools was broken. A local Muslim group offered to distribute Korans, but backed out at the last minute. Still, it stirred the board to action.
If enough of a fuss is raised, and they are refused the right to give away their literature, they have grounds for legal action. Jewish and Muslim groups asked to have their prayers said along with the Lord’s Prayer. The courts rightly decided that it was an all or nothing situation. Since the “Good Christians” didn’t want their kids exposed to “that heathen crap”, they decided on nothing. The heathens didn’t take God and the Lord’s Prayer out of school, Christians did.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Jesus’ Court was transferred to a branch office in Kentucky, by his company. An extension was added to a road up a mountain, out in the boondocks. He purchased the last, highest lot, and lived in a trailer while he cut trees to clear a site and build a log home. He thought he was getting along well with the locals, but after several months of the first summer, he realized there was a problem. He began to hear that the mountain folk wanted something done about him. Burned at the stake was not specifically mentioned, but there was a lot of, he felt, undeserved antipathy.
Wanting to remain a good neighbor, he began asking those who would speak to him, what the problem was. It began with the fact that he had brought with him from Yankee-land, two small concrete garden Demons, and had placed them on both sides of the end of his driveway. These God-fearin’ folks didn’t cotton to no Demon-worshippers.
He protested that he didn’t worship them, or any other Demons. They were just silly caricatures, for decoration. Yeah, then why don’t y’all go to church on Sunday mornin’ when we go to church? Because I thought that was a good time to haul out the chainsaw and cut down a bunch more trees when you weren’t here to be disturbed by the noise.
Sadly, at this point, I lost the story. Nothing further was published. He was probably as good a Christian as was necessary in Connecticut, a vague believer, just not a great church attender, and was not ready for the degree of surveillance and intrusion from hyper-Christians.
To be tolerated, he had to fit tightly within these peoples’ religious limits, do exactly as they did, act exactly as they acted. It was probably a great surprise to him to find these “Good Christians” with no live-and-let-live in their makeup. Narrow-minded and narrow-social-viewpoint people like these are slowly and reluctantly learning that other people have legal, social and moral rights to act differently, without interference.
There is a tiny poem which reads;
Rebel, heretic, a thing to flout,
He drew a circle to shut us out,
But Love and I had the wit to win.
We drew a circle which took him in.
There are millions of Hyper-Christians who will not enlarge their circle to take in anyone whose beliefs don’t exactly match theirs. Frighteningly, many of them have advanced to powerful positions within the American government. It is hoped that, slowly but surely, they will be shown that citizens other than Good Christians have equal rights.