Making Christianity The Criminal

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - April 09, 2008

You may have heard about the recent case of a California high school student who is suing his teacher for demeaning comments and tirades about God and religion.

The young man was outraged that his teacher would subject him and his classmates to rantings about how (paraphrasing here) those who wear “Jesus glasses” obscure the truth and that Christians would be more likely to commit rape and murder. The school district dismissed the student’s complaint. However, a federal judge said the case will be heard. Some say the teacher and his opinions are protected by the First Amendment, but there is a law that prohibits teachers from extolling their faith while excluding or maliciously denigrating another.

It will be interesting to see which side prevails.

A Wisconsin high school student is suing his art teacher for censoring a class project because the subject matter dealt with Christianity. When the student included a cross and scripture passage on an art class landscape assignment, his teacher asked him to remove the biblical reference. When he refused, she gave him a zero on the project. The boy, his stepfather and his pastor were later informed that religious expression could be legally censored in class assignments, adding that the image of the cross violated the rights of others. In discussion regarding said school policies, it was revealed that any violence, blood, sexual connotations or religious artwork could be prohibited, too.

The same student was then told in his metals class that he could not build a chain-mail cross. Why? His teacher told him it would be offensive to others. However, as the lawsuit alleges, school officials allow other religious artwork and items. According to this report, Buddha and Hindu figurines are on display in a social studies classroom, a picture of a six-limbed Hindu deity is in the school’s hallway, a drawing of a robed sorcerer adorns a bulletin board. Drawings of Medusa and images of the Grim Reaper with a scythe and demonic masks are on display, too.

If we were to accept this message, then Christianity is the criminal that needs to be expunged while other belief systems remain protected.

Although these cases are rather blatant and relegated to public schools, the marginalization of Christianity abounds.

I do a feature on my radio program called “Bet You Didn’t Know,” which recounts historical events of the day. My primary source of information is the Associated Press. It is a reliable service our broadcast company subscribes to and is, for the most part, a dependable resource. However, my eyebrows, in concert with my ire, were raised during a recent session of “BYDK.”

The AP states that Wednesday, April 2, was the 93rd day of the year. There is a section called “Today’s Highlight in History” suggesting the most significant or memorable event occurring on this date. In this case, the AP chooses 1968, the date that the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, had its world premiere.

OK, it was a good movie, but is this really the landmark occasion of all time on this date? There were other events that could have made the cut. Juan Ponce de Leon discovered what is now Florida, President Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany, and Argentina troops seized the Falkland Islands. Any of these supersede the world premiere of a Hollywood movie. Buried at the bottom of the list is the following entry: In 2005, Pope John Paul II, who’d led the Roman Catholic Church for 26 years, died in his Vatican apartment at age 84.

Although not discriminatory at face value, the diminished recognition of one of the most influential and beloved spiritual leaders of our lifetime reinforces the willingness to marginalize Christianity.

If left unchecked, this attitude in mainstream media is certain to be imbued in our society and tolerated in public policies such as education. All I am asking for is the fair application of law and an acknowledgment from media - and public schools - that Christianity is as newsworthy as a movie premiere, and has as much of a right to be in the public arena as any other religion.

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