RE: [atheists-36] Orlando Sentinel: Atheists Proseltytizing in Orange County Schools...Really?

From: Swami
Sent on: Sunday, May 5, 2013 3:27 PM

This article is EXACTLY the kind of response hoped for by the CFFC: its stated intent was/is to have disallowed the distribution by ALL organizations. The writer, James Coffin, gets the point, noting: “Williamson [w/ CFFC] says the literature distribution was to make a point: While people may not object to having their own religious materials distributed, many don't want to grant the same privilege to everyone.”; going on to acknowledge: “It's a valid observation.”

 

Coffin again shows he gets the point when he queries: "If you're a Christian, do you want your children to be proselytized at their public school by other religions or by atheists?"; followed by: "If you adhere to a non-Christian religion, or you're an atheist, do you want your children proselytized at their public school by Christians?" And each time he adds: “even if it's done passively and the promotional materials are simply made available?"

 

And again, Coffin is on point when he states: "Fairness, equal access and the nonestablishment clause of the First Amendment all suggest that students in public schools should be accessible to all proselytizers or to none."

 

Coffin also raises the practical issue of  “load” on school administrators, and on teachers; concluding: "Making public schools off-limits to all officially sanctioned proselytizing would have the decided advantage of allowing educators to focus on the prime educational objectives for which they receive their tax-funded salaries."

 

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Now, what of the use of the word “proselytize”? It can take on a negative, neutral, or positive tone. This can be intentional, or not. Context and connotations affect one’s interpretation/reaction. In a neutral sense, proselytize simply means to attempt to win another over to your way of thinking. But it can be charged and viewed as a negative thing by those not receptive to the presenter. This is sometimes the case with non-believers, and understandable so. After all, NOBODY wants others’ thinking forced on them, or at least feeling like such is being done.

 

So, what was the intent in Collins’ use of “proselytize”? Of course, I can’t say for sure, but given the entire editorial, it seems it’s being used in a fairly neutral, matter-of-fact manner. Also, Collins states he is a “Christian clergyman”, so “proselytize” is part of his language, and most often probably viewed in a positive light.

 

As regards “proselytize”, Collins is expressing a concern that Christians will be encountered in public schools by atheists, or other non-Christians (via passive distribution of literature, in this case) attempting to win them over to other thinking. Understandable, given his connection to Christianity. But he is also keen to recognize the situation applies from all other directions, too.

 

Based on the above, I for one, have no qualms with Collins’ use of “proselytize” in this context and in the manner used.

 

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In conclusion, congrats to the CFFC for taking action, and congrats to James Collins for getting the point.

 

 

From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf Of Mike Mello
Sent: Sunday, May 05,[masked]:35 PM
To: [address removed]
Subject: RE: [atheists-36] Orlando Sentinel: Atheists Proseltytizing in Orange County Schools...Really?

 

Yes, Jim is in agreement that all views should be kept at home.  He agrees with most of us on this, and I believe did a good job communicating this.  He understands why we did this and gets it....its about equality, allow all views or no views.

On May 5,[masked]:30 PM, "Mikey Cooper" <[address removed]> wrote:

Bounced the first time I tried to send it.  Trying again…

 

Quite the contrary, he didn’t seem to be holding bible distribution to a different standard.  Rather, he was calling for an end to all such distribution of materials so that schools can focus on their “prime educational objective”.  I don’t see what the issue is with this article.

 

From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf Of Jack Maurice
Sent: Sunday, May 5,[masked]:58 AM
To: [address removed]
Subject: [atheists-36] Orlando Sentinel: Atheists Proseltytizing in Orange County Schools...Really?

 

 

When bibles were distributed in 11 Orange County high schools earlier this year that was just a 'free distribution' but when freethought and humanist materials were available at these schools last Thursday it is called 'proselytizing'. REALLY?

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/os-ed-proselytizing-in-schools-myword-050513-20130503,0,5097601.story

 





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