Whidbey Island Freethinkers Message Board › South Whidbey Schools now on alert about atheist cult

South Whidbey Schools now on alert about atheist cult

Stephen K.
StephenKahn
Group Organizer
Langley, WA
Post #: 88
Please realize that I am an overly mirthy person. This has often gotten me in trouble, and frequently does not amuse my spouse.

Among my 17 jobs, quite a few involved education. In two jobs, I was a high school teacher. 3 years in Seattle and 5 years in Tigard, Oregon. I have also worked quite a bit in adult education. I volunteer for a Whidbey church. They are very tolerant in many ways. They are tolerant about Jews. (I am "Jewish," but I consider the label meaningless unless the Nazis arise again.) They have a Muslim in their congregation. They have homosexuals in their congregation. They are as nice as a church can be. My main objections: 1) They believe in a "God" I don't believe exists. 2) They begin teaching children to believe in God at the age of 2 or 3. I find this distasteful (and is very different from how I raised my child to be an atheist and how I am dealing with my granddaughter's childish leaning toward belief).

We have discussed how to raise children to be atheists or agnostic instead of believers. When I was in high school, the principal read a Bible verse each morning. (This was a public school.) An assembly allowed youthful believers to advocate their beliefs. (As an atheist, I was not given an opportunity to express my point of view.) But times have changed. I think we lean now toward, "Just don't talk about it. Maybe religion will go away." Perhaps that is the best we can hope for.)

I asked the principal of South Whidbey High School if I could visit and observe classes at the school. I presented my experience as an educator, but did not present any other "agenda." Although I contacted him by email and by postal mail, and was very polite, he never replied. I considered this a typical Whidbey "passive-aggressive" way of dealing with possible discomfort and possible conflict.

I wrote to the Superintendent of the School District. I repeated my experience and qualifications (also noting that I am a ax-paying citizen). I asked if I could attend the parent's open house at the high school even though I do not have a child attending the school. I identified myself as an atheist. I said (without much hope) that I hoped she had a sense of humor.

She replied with a terse note (bully for her; she at least replied) telling me I am not permitted to attend the open house. She did demonstrate that she has no sense of humor without a doubt. Well, none of the school superintendents I worked for ever demonstrated a sense of humor, though one of the principals I worked for was (fairly openly) having an affair with one of the teachers. But that's all water under the bridge.

I replied to the principal that I appreciated her reply. I also said I was not especially willing (as a tax-paying citizen) to let the matter rest. As a citizen I feel I should have a right to see what is going on the schools I help pay for. I should, obviously, be very polite, not disrupt a class, and not proclaim about religion. On the other hand, religion is (legitimately) discussed in public schools. For example (as an English major and later teacher) John Donne (a very religious writer) was and is considered one of the greatest writers in English literature. The religious history of America -- particularly Roger Williams (one of the greatest statesman and Christians in our history) is considered a legitimate topic in public school history classes.

The following is not true and reflects my excessive sarcasm. I imagine if I ever set foot on South Whidbey High School campus, the sheriff's office will be called and I will be escorted from the campus, perhaps in handcuffs. Fortunately, my Lutheran Friends have their own school within their church and as we live in a society (thanks mostly to Roger Williams) where freedom of religion is fairly well protected. So perhaps I should leave well-enough alone and not cause the poor superintendent to have sleepless nights worrying about atheist fanatics and the "cults" they start.
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