It is sad, but in today's "free" America, there are vivid examples of tyranny of the religious majority. In Delaware, a Jewish family was run out of town after they questioned the aggressive sectarian prayers delivered in the Indian River School District.
For years, the Dobrich family put up with the illegal proselytizing - which was intended to marginalize non-Christians and use public arenas as fundamentalist recruitment centers. The straw that broke her back occurred at her daughter Samantha's high school graduation in 2004. An obnoxious and mannerless minister who does not understand a pluralistic society delivered a prayer proclaiming Jesus as the only way to the truth. Dobrich responded by asking the school board to consider more inclusive prayers.
Word got out in the hick town and the topic soon dominated talk radio - the usual cesspool for authoritarian, anti-American fascist rhetoric. This riled up the yahoos - bringing hundreds of rabid zealots to school board meetings with signs proclaiming that Jesus is #1. How spiritual.
Dobrich and another family sued - and won. The school board now has to explicitly spell out what is acceptable prayer - as opposed to predatory proselytizing. However, standing up for the Constitution and real American values came with a steep price. The town's Christian Ayatollahs poisoned the minds of their children - who then harassed the Dobrich family's children with anti-Semitic taunts.
The family's eleven year old son, Alex, was referred to as "Jew Boy" and other kids said he was the Jew who was "suing Jesus." Living in fear, the family was forced to relocate - which created a financial burden that forced their daughter Samantha to drop out of Columbia University.
These so-called Christan fundamentalists are such loving people. Surely, Jesus would be proud of them. They will no doubt go to heaven for their "good" deeds in Delaware.
The truth is - the right wing relies on intimidation and harassment to spread their beliefs. They send the sickening message that you will be excluded and ostracized unless you get with their religious program. They place enormous pressure on vulnerable individuals - such as children. If you express dissent - they will browbeat you - or just flat out beat you into submission. This example in Delaware represents everything that is wrong with religion in America.
While there are many wonderful people of faith - I have met countless examples - let's not sweep the truth under the carpet. In small towns throughout this nation, religion is often the premier source of bigotry and a sectarian club used to bash anyone who is not a fundamentalist. Until this scourge is addressed, America will fail to live up to its potential and we won't be the free country we purport to be.
"In the settlement, the district did not concede that it had violated the First Amendment through its practices, said its lawyer, Jason Gosselin. The board approved the accord unanimously."
They all settle sooner or later but never admit to wrongdoing. That's what blows my mind! Helloooo! Anybody home?
In my time in high school, we never encountered any prayers or any religious BS of any kind. Of course that was 40 years ago and the Jewish kids were recognized as "the smart kids" and we were very interested in knowing about Judaism. Why is it that today everyone wears their religion on their sleeve? Just the other day, a young man (25+ or so) approached me at Wally World and asked my if I knew Jesus, and he didn't mean the Mexican one! What freaking business is it of his whom I know or don't know religiously or otherwise? My scathing answer to him is unprintable here.
Sorry to ponder the possibility that the Christians of today yesteryear are not the same as the Christians of yesteryear! I think we were more open minded than the so-called Christian ones today.
posted by richard schillen, at
2/29/2008 12:04 PM
Richard, no, please! Your scathing answer IS printable here...just use a few asteriks!
posted by Chris L., at
2/29/2008 1:19 PM
I've been following this story for a while. jewsonfirst.org has been covering it for 2 years. Where have YOU been??
posted by Emily K, at
2/29/2008 4:46 PM
Emily - what is your point?
I guess since you have covered it and Jews on First no one can write about it? Do you want a pat on the back and three gold stars?
I love you, but I can write about this issue or any other issue whenever I want - or not at all. I wasn't aware that this was a race for coverage or that this news was copyrighted.
The New York Times wrote about it. I commented on the piece. End of story. No apologies.
Hey, I meant no offense. I say the exact same thing when I see ABC reporting on something you've been reporting on for a year. (consequentially, they now take credit for outing John Paulk.)
posted by Emily K, at
2/29/2008 9:44 PM
No offense taken. If I had claimed credit for it - then I could understand if people were upset. But, I was just commenting on the story. I'm not the Associated Press - so breaking news is a luxury - but not a priority. :)
posted by Wayne Besen, at
2/29/2008 10:31 PM
Everyone who reports on this story at any time, during, before, after, 10 years after, is doing a service to our communities. It is good to shine a light on these things because most people of good will come away having learned a lesson in tolerance, so Wayne and Emily are doing good. But boy, what a bunch of crazies these people must be to embrace anti-semitism like this. Fundamentalism is a profound danger which puts people into a mental and psychological fishbowl which they cannot see out of.
posted by Chris L., at
3/01/2008 11:35 AM
Chris L said... "Fundamentalism is a profound danger which puts people into a mental and psychological fishbowl which they cannot see out of." -- That reminds me of something Bob Altemeyer said about this kind of thing:
"Authoritarian followers have basically copied the ideas of the authorities in their lives. They haven't thought about things to any great degree and then decided what they believe in. To maintain their beliefs in a world of challenging discoveries and conflicting beliefs, they associate as much as possible with others who agree with them. They travel in small circles, getting booster shots of faith from one another. They rely upon social support, rather than evidence or logic, to keep on believing what in many cases they've simply memorized." -- It's cult mentality. And how do you "reach" someone who's been assimilated into a cult? You have to break the law by kidnapping them, then isolate them, and then deprogram them for months, and sometimes more than a year. So that's scarcely a feasible option even when it's a loved one involved in a real cult.
Based on the quote above, one thing I've been realizing of late is that one of the reasons it's virtually impossible to get through to these people online, no matter how much irrefutable evidence is presented, is that they run back to their church friends inbetween conversations, who then surreptitiously undo any "thinking" that may have occured as the result of exposure to reasons, facts, and examples, that run contrary to their grand fantasy land.
Then they come back to the conversation with a clean slate, ready to repeat all the exact same idiocy, all over again.
posted by Emproph, at
3/02/2008 6:15 PM
I know this news story is shocking to those of us who live in the liberal/educated areas of the country (though Delaware is hardly a *red* state), but this kind of crass, blatant anti-semitism is still alive and well in much of this country. A non-Jewish woman I know, who married a Jew, said that when she travels in certain parts of the country, she gets treated distinctly better when she uses her maiden name than when she uses her married name, which is obviously Jewish, even to the dullest minds. Her son even had to change *law* schools because the other good christian students wouldnt let 'a Jew into their study groups'. As a northeasterner I found this incredible; but after reading about the hick-town in Delaware, I guess things are still worse than I thought. God knows what this town would do to an openly gay person! Gary (NJ)
posted by Anonymous, at
3/03/2008 2:48 PM