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December 21, 2011

5

How Offensive is the Cross?

by juju2112

Aaron from the blog A Disciple’s Guide To Common Sense wrote this recently:

I heard a story the other day about a classroom in another country that had a cross on the wall. During the course of the school year, one parent noticed the cross and became indignant, claiming that it was intolerable for her child to receive education in a classroom that contained offensive symbolism. A suit was filed against the teacher and the school, claiming that if the cross wasn’t removed legal action would be taken.

It’s interesting to me how one can become enraged over such things, even when the quality of education had not been questioned up to that point. The cross had likely been in the classroom since before this particular child was born. To my knowledge no person had ever complained about the cross in the past. The parents of the other children took comfort in the cross being in the classroom. Then, all of a sudden, one parent (not the child) became indignant and threatened retaliation because they were offended. Mind you, this was not in these United States.

Sadly, this is not a new issue in the U.S. People get offended all the time about anything and everything, and in the name of peace and equality, throw fits and enter into lawsuits so that they can get their own way and trample the beliefs of others. They aren’t interested in equality at all, but rather their own desire to be super-imposed above the rights of others.

This is an important topic, and since I have a minority opinion, I feel it’s my duty to voice it. This blogger is by no means the only person to be expressing this sentiment right now. But he’s done a good job of expressing the Christian side of things. Plus, he’s from Arkansas, and I like to try to keep my discussion local.

Aaron, whether you like it or not, some people in America are not Christian. How are non-Christians supposed to feel when they see their government publicly endorsing a religion they don’t believe in? It makes them feel like they don’t have a voice in their own government. The message is that there’s a special “in” group, and they are not in it. Meaning, if you aren’t Christian, you will never be elected to public office and your views will be ignored. We should not be making minorities feel like they are second-class citizens.

I know our position is hard for you to understand. To you, the cross represents a symbol of all that is good in the world. What could possibly be wrong with goodness?

Let me explain why the cross is offensive to me. Here’s what I get from this symbol:

  • Original Sin: All of humanity is inherently evil and tainted. There’s nothing we can do about it because we inherited it from our ancestors. It begins at birth. We will be thrown in a fire and tortured.
  • But good news! One person, Jesus, has been killed. He accepts the punishment for all our evil. We’ll be okay. But we must swear fealty first.

The Christian cross is immoral and repugnant in three ways:

  1. I am not inherently evil by nature. I am a good person. My young children are good people. I resent this assertion and find it extremely offensive. I resent being thought of as a bad person. That’s the message the cross sends to me: That you think I’m a bad person.
  2. How can evil be inherited from parent to child? That makes no sense whatsoever. If my father committed a murder, it would be wrong for me to be sent to jail for his crime. Inherited sin is immoral.
  3. It makes no sense for one person to accept punishment for the “sins” of another. This notion of yours is completely immoral. People should accept the consequences of their own misdeeds.

In summary, your cross says to me that I’m a bad person through no fault of my own, but as long as I swear fealty to your deity, everything will be all right. No, that’s not okay. It’s not good, and you don’t get to hold the moral high-ground. Please judge me based on my own actions and words, not on my adherence to your religion.

I know this was a story from another country. But let’s pretend it happened in America. How will my 5 and 8 year old kids feel when they see this cross in their classroom? They will think, “Oh yeah, that’s from that group of people who think I’m going to burn in hell. I remember when Susie said she couldn’t be my friend anymore because I don’t go to church. Why does everyone think I’m a bad person? And now, the school and teacher think so as well!”

Yes, it’s offensive to us. I know, you don’t see it that way. To you, it means a whole other thing. That’s because we have different views on the matter. I don’t expect that will ever be resolved between us. Remember how we all live in the same country, though? Maybe our government shouldn’t be taking sides on stuff this divisive?

Why should the will of one student (or their parent) prevail over the other 29? Do not the parent’s of the other 29 students have fundamental rights that are at least equal in fervor and conviction to having the cross on the schoolroom wall? Are the interests and beliefs of the other 29 unimportant or lesser in value because they want the cross there?

It’s not equal rights you’re demanding. You want your religious symbols on the walls and no others. That is superior rights. Unless it’s also okay for there to be a sign saying, “God is a myth”, then it’s in no way fair.

The fact that you’re a majority doesn’t matter. These rights exist to protect the minority from the oppression of the majority. That’s why the first amendment was added in the first place.

One parent, or one person, simply can’t make himself/herself superior, nor can they overrule the rights of all others. In this case, the individual parent who feigns they want neutrality is actually being hostile toward the 29 others who are actually enjoying/exercising neutrality/peace already. Why not simply move to another classroom? Yes, every individual has rights, but they don’t supersede the rights of others, do they? Is one person’s opinion, and that’s what this is, more valuable than another’s?

[..]

If I had a child in a classroom that had a shrine to Buddha or Mohammed in it, my child simply wouldnt’ be in that class (if those beliefs were being forced upon them – remembering that in the story above there was no indication that Christianity was being forced, much less taught there). I might ask why it was there. I might even inquire of the principal, school administration, or superintendent. But, in the end I would rather have my child in another class, school, or environment than to destroy any semblance of them having real peace, friendships, or help because of my frustration. I wouldn’t want my actions to cause retaliation upon my child. I have the right to remove my child as much as that parent has the right to complain and file a lawsuit and offend the convictions and rights of the entire class. One way seems a lot more peace-loving to me…

Are you actually serious? You think it’s fair for minorities to have to change classrooms or schools? Why do I pay taxes into a school if my kids can’t attend?

I think this really shows that you don’t understand what it’s like to be in a minority. Assuming religious fundamentalists had their way, religious paraphernalia would be in every classroom of every school in America. What school would I be able to put my kids into? Are we to have separate schools like we had for African-Americans back in the day? That is unacceptable.

We may be in the minority, but we have just as much right to be in that classroom as you do. And if you’re putting stuff on the walls, we should be able to as well. Being in the majority doesn’t give you extra rights over other people.

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dec 21 2011

    One of the clear contradictions that Christian parents fail to see is brilliantly exposed in their own comments that you’ve posted here is:

    “One parent, or one person, simply can’t make himself/herself superior, nor can they overrule the rights of all others. In this case, the individual parent who feigns they want neutrality is actually being hostile toward the 29 others who are actually enjoying/exercising neutrality/peace already…”

    and

    “… I would rather have my child in another class, school, or environment than to destroy any semblance of them having real peace, friendships, or help because of my frustration. I wouldn’t want my actions to cause retaliation upon my child…”

    That tells me the parent in question understands why the child of an atheist parent might feel uncomfortable, silenced into complacence, and bullied…and yet talks around that discomfort without actually confronting the problem. After all, it isn’t her child that is at risk, and what she says she would do rings false in the face of the fact that this problem is not one she has to face, since she is part of the majority view. That she gets it, though, speaks volumes about her – and not in a positive light.

    What too many parents forget is that elementary and middle schools (and high school, but in a different way) are bully sandpits. And over far less consequential things than this topic here. If the situation were changed to something less familiar to them, and their child came home upset, they would react much the same as the atheist parent of the child in your post here. That is the reality of seemingly invisible (and majority) privilege. I haven’t dealt with it much recently, but both of my older kids have endured negative experiences because of their lack of belief…I am thankful that they are very strong-minded kids and that they have backbones to match their mouths.

    Reply
  2. dgriffin
    Dec 21 2011

    Its odd how this blogger considers the lack of previous complaint pertinent in any way. This selfish mindset asserts that any oppressed people emerging into their own rights may not deserve them because they have failed to voice protest in the past regardless of the penalties they might suffer for said voice.

    If slaves had silently born their oppression from fear of the whip, are they then less deserving of their own rights?

    Anyone serving in an official capacity, especially in service to children, has a fiduciary duty to convey their duties free of undo religious influence. There are areas of child rearing that belong only to the parents and religion is one of those areas. If I am forced to put my child in school by the state, i have a right for my child to be free of religious influence while he is there.

    Reply
  3. micnael riendeau
    Jul 2 2012

    Good person huh? Well have you ever stole? (Small things count) Have you ever looked at another person of the opposite sex with lust in your heart? Have even lied a few times? If you have, that makes you a lying, theiving, pervert.

    We are all sinners and only through Christ can we be saved.

    Reply
    • juju2112
      Jul 2 2012

      I don’t consider lust or lying to be inherently evil. Whether an action is bad or good depends on whether it causes harm. I have never stolen anything. But if I did steal, say, a pencil, I don’t think being tortured forever is a just punishment. I think a god that allowed that to happen would be an evil god.

      Even if there were a god, appealing to him for forgiveness for something I did to someone else makes no sense. If I did do something bad, I would try to make amends with the person I caused harm to.

      I don’t have a black-and-white view of morality. I don’t believe in original sin. If I make a mistake, I try not to repeat it. Being good isn’t a true or false switch you turn on or off. There are degrees.

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