Last Sunday, Dr. Bruce Prescott of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists interviewed Joann Bell on his radio show.
As a mother in Little Axe, Okla., Bell experienced first-hand how government-sponsored religion can destroy a community.
In 1981, Bell had just moved to Little Axe and enrolled her children in the local public school system. At that time, school officials were allowing a teacher-sponsored student group called the Son Shine Club to gather before school to pray.
Though the fundamentalist Baptist meetings were supposedly voluntary, the school buses dropped students off 30 minutes before classes started. Those who were not attending the religious meetings had to wait outside the building, sometimes in the rain or cold. The Son Shine sessions also extended into first-hour class time, Bell said.
First break. First question, why was this running into class time? When I was teaching we had to fret over the INSTRUCTIONAL MINUTES. According to the state of California we had to teach our students a minimum number of INSTRUCTIONAL MINUTES every year, period. If we didn't meet the INSTRUCTIONAL MINUTES no one was going on summer break. Snow days or flood days or what have you took away from the INSTRUCTIONAL MINUTES and would have to be made up. So would things like certain presentations, class parties, and other happening. So whatever you wanted to do in your classroom you had to take the INSTRUCTIONAL MINUTES in to account. I cannot imagine that Oklahoma would be any different.
If this Son Shine Club ran over into the actual school day it would be taking away from the INSTRUCTIONAL MINUTES, which would mean that either the teacher was screwing up, and it was being allowed, or they were staying in class X #of days a year to cover for this. Either way, a far more serious issue than most realize, I think.
Question #2, why not have a playground monitor or volunteer teacher or someone covering the library or lunchroom to get these kids out of the weather while they waited?
Oh, riiiight, because the whole point was to coerce the kids into sitting down to listen to the mythology. Odds are they would never come in on their own. Says quite a lot for your omnipotent god and his message there.
One student told a reporter with the National Catholic Reporter in 1984, “If you wanted to be warm, you prayed.”
Bell, who was very active in the Church of the Nazarene, wanted to be able to teach her children about their own religion. But her kids began questioning their beliefs based on what they heard at school. When they came home with Bibles, Bell and another parent, Lucille McCord (a member of the Church of Christ), decided it was time to take it up with the school board.
Point, Bell was another Christian. This was Nazarene vs. Baptist. The Atheists had nothing to do with this one at this point.
The two women were met with hostility. Bell recalled that board members told her “they did things the way they wanted to. If I didn’t like it, that was my problem.” Those at the meeting chanted “atheists, go home!” and one school board member handed out homemade placards to the crowd that said “Commies Go Home.”
That was just the start. After contacting the ACLU and filing a lawsuit, Bell and McCord became the subjects of hatred and even violence. Bell’s house was burned down by a firebomb. McCord’s 12-year-old son’s prize goats were slashed and mutilated with a knife. Bell was assaulted by a school cafeteria worker who smashed her head repeatedly against a car door. (School authorities praised the cafeteria worker, and she was forced to pay a $10 fine and Bell’s hospital bills, community residents raised donations on the assailant’s behalf.) McCord and Bell were both mailed their own obituaries.
“When I began the suit, I just wanted to stop the religious services at school, but I supported the idea of nonsectarian prayer in the classroom during school,” McCord told the National Catholic Reporter. “Since I’ve seen what religion can do to a community, I don’t support any religious observance in school.”
Amen, sister! This is why I think all secular/athiests should just homeschool. Save you and your kids the stress. Given the christian tendency to want to eliminate real science and change history, your kids will be far better educated anyway.