01 Nov 2007 When Silliness is Serious, by Bishop Council Nedd II
When Silliness Is Serious
by Bishop Council Nedd II (bio)
To make a point about frivolous lawsuits, Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers decided to sue God.
Millions of people the world over undoubtedly got a snicker over his efforts to get a county court to stop God from causing “calamitous catastrophes resulting in the wide-spread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants including innocent babes, infants, children, the aged and infirm without mercy or distinction.” Then they went about their day.
Similarly, I’m sure most people just rolled their eyes when they heard about a group of high school students in Colorado who recently walked out of class. These students were protesting having to listen to others recite the Pledge of Allegiance. They held a press conference to say that merely hearing the words “under God” offended them. Student Worker Club president Emma Martens likened this voluntary school activity to “religious oppression.”
To most Americans, the actions of State Senator Chambers and the students of Boulder High School are just silly publicity stunts perpetrated by those craving attention. Are their actions offensive? Yes. Are their complaints worthy of national attention? No.
There comes a point, however, when even the silliest of stunts become serious. State Senator Chambers made the state of Nebraska and its government look foolish by using his notoriety as a lawmaker to promote his admittedly frivolous lawsuit. He insulted his constituents, abused the legal system and even made a mockery of the Nebraska state constitution, which states, “It shall be the duty of the Legislature to pass suitable laws to protect every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship.”
Despite all this, no one in the Nebraska legislature sought to punish Senator Chambers or otherwise deter him from such antics – well-meaning or not – in the future. In Nebraska, it’s apparently now acceptable for elected officials to use the legal system to mock God.
In Colorado, as Student Worker Club members marched out of class and into the arms of waiting reporters gathered in front of the school, nothing was done to restore order. Principal Bud Jenkins later announced that the students would not be disciplined and furthermore said that he was actually proud that they stood up for their beliefs.
Principal Jenkins was proud his students disrupted classes in order to declare that hearing the word “God” was so traumatic that they could no longer even sit silently while their peers recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Proud of what, exactly? Their judgment? Their maturity? Their patriotism? Don’t make me laugh.
I have taught in a public high school, and I realize kids will do some outrageous things. Sometimes they simply have to, as some people might say, “get it out of their systems.” But the refusal of Boulder High’s principal to stand up to his protesting students simply encourages more outrageous and disrespectful behavior toward our national heritage. If the kids don’t like the Pledge, Colorado law already says they don’t have to recite it. These students shouldn’t be allowed to insult and demean their teachers and fellow students who do wish to pay their respects to our nation.
I fear America is rapidly reaching a tipping point. Our forbearance of attacks on our national religious heritage is emboldening those who wish to drive God from our public lives to such and extent that it is undermining the very purpose of our nation.
Tolerance is one thing. Slow retreat and surrender to the divisive forces of political correctness and atheist demagoguery is another.
Kids used to have to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school. Not only can they opt out of reciting it these days, they can mock and deride their classmates who do. Similarly, politicians whose actions demeaned their offices, abused the legal system and insulted their constituents used to at least get reprimanded if not expelled from office. Today, they might end up feted as a hero on Oprah’s TV show.
Each stunt we allow to go unchallenged merely emboldens the radical left to demand more and more concessions from America’s religious majority.
No more retreating. It is time for the silliness to stop.
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Project 21 member Council Nedd II, the bishop of the Chesapeake and the Northeast for the Episcopal Missionary Church, is the honorary chairman of In God We Trust (http://www.ingodwetrustusa.org) – a group formed to oppose anti-religious bigotry. Comments may be sent to [email protected].
Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21 or the National Center for Public Policy Research.