Thursday, July 23, 2009

On The Separation of Church and Facebook

Warning to the fainthearted and easily offended. This post contains sexist positions (not sex positions, sexIST positions) and a random tweak to the nipples of organized religion. Or two.

I recently received an email from a friend who was incensed that a Facebook friend of hers was promulgating what is likely some made up "pledge," penned - or so the story goes - by a kid in Ohio. Here it is in the point size it deserves:

Written by a 15 yr. old School Kid in Ohio :
New Pledge of Allegiance
A Kid in Ohio wrote-

NEW School prayer : Now I sit me down in school Where praying is against the rule For this great nation under God Finds mention of Him very odd. If Scripture now the class recites, It violates the Bill of Rights. And anytime my head I bow Becomes a Federal matter now. Our hair can be purple, orange or green, That's no offense; it's a freedom scene... The law is specific, the law is precise. Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice. For praying in a public hall Might offend someone with no faith at all. In silence alone we must meditate, God's name is prohibited by the state. We're allowed to cuss and dress like freaks, And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks.. They've outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible. To quote the Good Book makes me liable. We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen, And the 'unwed daddy,' our Senior King. It's 'inappropriate' to teach right from wrong, We're taught that such 'judgments' do not belong. We can get our condoms and birth controls, Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles. But the Ten Commandments are not allowed, No word of God must reach this crowd. It's scary here I must confess, When chaos reigns the school's a mess. So, Lord, this silent plea I make: Should I be shot; My soul please take! Amen

My friend suggested I might blog about it because she knows that the separation between church and state is an issue about which I have strong feelings. Amen to that, I said.

I mulled it over because I wasn't sure if I had anything new or interesting to say on the subject and because I told y'all that I was taking it easy on the blogging. But then, and wouldn't you know it, MathMan hit me with the same kind of issue. He'd already unfriended a family member on Facebook because she had posted some ghastly anti-choice stuff. Apparently not taking the hint, she sent him a new friend invitation. He mentioned it in passing and I pounced on the opportunity to demonstrate my online savvy.

"Well, my policy is to just hide the status and posts of people whose political opinions irritate me," I offered. MathMan loves when I offer unsolicited advice, it's so not obnoxious.

After our usual slap-fight, he thought about it some more and eventually accepted his relative's re-friend invitation.

A couple of days later, he was wondering again what the hell is wrong with this person. This time she sent him an invitation to become a fan of the Creation Museum.

"WTF? ( - we often use text-shortened acronyms with each other * - )" was the subject line when he forwarded his email invitation to me. After I got done ROTFLMAO, I called him. Wiping tears from my eyes, I asked what he was going to do. He was still wildly indignant. "She is oblivious! We're the Jewish branch of the family and she's sending this to me?!?!"

I tried to be serious. "Well, maybe she's thinking that the Creation Museum is celebrating your Old Testament god and so of course you'd want to be a fan!" I am such the cheerleader when it's not my feathers that are ruffled.

I'd pretty much decided that this relative of his is either hardcore testifying and determined to spread the word no matter who might be offended or she is the village idiot's sister. Either way, MathMan's patience was being sorely tested and I must offer support.

"How about three strikes and you're out?" I offered, once again, behaving like so many men in my life - offering advice when none was requested. You heard me - it's a very male thing to want to solve the problem when all the partner wants to do is vent. You know when you're about to start a sentence with something like "Well, you should just....." or "You need to....." or "Just (fill in solution here)....", the smartest thing you can do is shut your yap. But do we ever do it? Nope. We just go on scratching our balls and shooting off our mouths with all kinds of shoulds, justs and why don't yous.........

Lord, I just wandered like James said I do.

So all of this, the alleged pledge by the high schooler and the irritating proselytizing by relatives and friends on Facebook, have resulted in my thinking that we need a separation of church and Facebook, too.

Or rather, perhaps some common courtesy is in order. Say what you want in your status, but don't be bothered if your friends hide your ass and never respond to you. And follow this basic rule (scratches balls again, because look who's full of unsolicited advice again), if you don't know someone's beliefs, affiliations, etc, lay off sending around anything controversial, political, etc. Seriously, they are as bad as chain emails. And I know that some angel of mercy is now going to pass me by or some horrible tragedy is going to befall me because I'm going against the very idea of chainmail hoodoo, but for the love of Cliff (a variation on my much favored oh for Cliff's sake), why go alienating people? Isn't' life hard enough?

Now, as for that pledge, because I need to wrap this up so I can get back to napping at my desk, let us be clear. I've Snoped the thing for veracity and naturally, it's an urban legend at this point. No matter. The pledge is nonsense. God is allowed in school. It's not like he's a sex offender or anything. (insert offensive joke about priests here)

Students can pray all they want and do, I'm sure. On any given day across the South, at least, students are participating in Christian Athletes events, having prayer circle, etc. There are at least two In God We Trust wall hangings in Garbo's elementary school. God is still mentioned in the Pledge of Allegiance and there's a moment of silence each morning so that kids who are so inclined could certainly say a silent prayer that today is fish stick day instead of beef stew day in the cafeteria.

And, trust me, it ain't easy to be on a sports team down here without being inundated with the Christian religion. Prayers over the team, prayer at practice, at team dinners before a game. It's all fairly common. Most people go along to get along, but if push comes to shove, a case could be made that in order to belong to the team, one feels compelled to participate in group religious activities. You know that forced is another word for compelled, right?

And let me tell you this - where Christianity is very much tied to the culture, the folks here aren't making any attempt to be open to other religious beliefs. God isn't enough. Nope. It's in Jesus's name they pray here and anyone who has a problem with that can get stuffed or go back to where they came from.

According to our laws, however, what is not allowed is the establishment of a religion as The Religion. Forced prayer is not allowed. The teaching of one religion's tenets as a way for life is not acceptable. That does not mean that there isn't plenty of god in school. And cruise down the halls of any middle or high school and you'll probably hear god being invoked in all kinds of colorful ways, too. Even by those kids who go to church and pray over their guns every Sunday.

For more information on what exactly the Separation of Church and State means and doesn't mean, visit Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. The more we educate ourselves, the better we sound when we do go shooting our mouths off, yo.

* Lie. Well, maybe some. The Actor/Ninja says IDK alot.


  1. Well done and well said. I agree, it is very hard to know what to say, and hard to control what others say. So the best thing to do is hide I can control what I say, but I can't control others.

    Thanks for pointing out the misstatements and the distortions of the so called religious freedoms that are pushed at us so much. I have long wondered why it is that people who say they are religious seem to be the ones who distort and even dare I say, lie so much... yeah I said it..

    Thanks again Lisa.

  2. Well said! Lisa I couldn't agree more. I am a bit sceptical that it was written by a 15 year old, but either way, they just don't get it. I'm a believer, and I have no desire to push my faith on anyone. It is an individual thing and frankly, no amount of evangelizing makes a whit of difference. People who don't feel it, should not have to be made to feel guilty or wrong. We have had the experiment with theocracy, and it didn't ever turn out well.

  3. I'm with you on that one.

    The one I'm wrestling with right now is Separation of Facebook and Politics. I wrote this post earlier in the year when our uptight right Christian state legislature failed to pass Sunday alcohol sales and well I do like me some alcohol on Sundays. As you know living in Georgia, we are only one of three backward states to ban sale of alcohol on Sunday. So I did this post with the pictures of all the legislators on the committee looking like eunuchs saying they had no balls to go against our born again Governor who said he would veto the bill if it was passed. I mentioned all their names too. The head of the committee is this asshole David Shafer. Well don't you know it but he keeps sending me a friends request on Facebook which I kept ignoring for a while (we have a mutual friend which is my only Republican friend since well you know how I feel about fucking Republicans). I finally sent him a link to my post and guess what. No more requests.

  4. Why can't you just side with the popular folks?

    You know, everyone would be happy and successful if they just went along with what the popular people said was good.

    What good has your sense of self or your own identity ever done for you? Nothing but trouble.

    I am converting to evangelical Christianity as I type this. I hear they have a coffee bar.

  5. I de-friend anyone who's intolerant Christianity offends me.

  6. This morning as I was tossing a ball for the dog to chase, I had this thought - The belief in deities is so engrained in all cultures, it's almost impossible to separate the two - even if it's the best for everyone to separate the two.

    The hierarchy of governments is essentially predicated on god belief. Leaders become icons - god figures in a sense. Voters and followers essentially concede their smallness to the honchos on high. The masses concede their individualism while hoping (praying) their leader will make right of everything... very much a parallel to how they view their god(s).

    Is it all hopeless for those that believe otherwise - who don't accept the god myths and who practice individualism and self determination? Maybe it is. The herd understands their power of numbers.

  7. Personally I think God gets pissed when she reads this stuff on Facebook.

  8. Bra-frikkin'-vo!!!!!!

    Oh what can I say of the idiocy of those against the foundational aspects of religion in school. And I couldn't agree more, if you don't like it, piss off. Seriously. Piss. Off.
    Like Dr Monkey says, defriend anyone whose intolerant Christianity offends, but defriend (no, behead) anyone whose intolerant atheistic bullshit rubs me the wrong fucking way.
    Oh damn I swore.

  9. That stupid "pledge" has been going around as a chain letter and on email since 1995, at least, when I first saw it photocopied and later got it as email and deleted it. So dumb.

    I have unfriended two people for being too out there in their "religious" politics. One is just such a repressed, probably going to snap someday weirdo "pastor's wife," and the other decided it was a good idea to respond to the newsfeed that I became a fan of Obama last year by accusing me of supporting - I shit you not- infanticide.

    Good rant today.

    (Oh, and I hope you don't hide me since I sometimes mention church stuff.)

  10. Sage advise. My first reaction when I see this stuff on F/Book is to retaliate and I have from time to time. I can't seem to change the world to my liking, even after repeated attempts ("insanity = doing the same thing and expecting different results") so I'm gonna save what little sanity I hav left.
    Cheers Lisa!

  11. Please be kind to the people who write pledges or anything else like this. They are so very very afraid of their life.
    Look at all the things pointed to as disturbing. Colored hair, wierd clothes, piercing, teen pregnancy.
    I'm an historian and I can assure you this is the first and only time in the history of the world that people dressed in odd ways, decorated their bodies in odd ways and gave birth to children out of wedlock.
    It is all so scary.

  12. I'm offended. I'm a man, and I often refuse to solve the problem.

    Except now. I'm going to finally join Facebook and send all of you the most extra-Jesusy stuff I can conjure.

  13. Oh Lisa, this was so well said. I know how annoying it is to get Christian propaganda from people in e-mails (I only have two friends who do this and luckily one of them gave up on me after i sent back a snarky response and the other knows we differ but is OK with it). I totally agree with all you said in this post. I've never understood why Christians, who are clearly the favored majority in this country, try to make it seem as if they are being discriminated against! It's so absurd.

    Sue J, love your comment.

  14. Remember the satiric elegy in Huck Finn about Stephen Dowling Botts who fell down a well ? OK well I'm a nerd and I do. Read this and match it with the so-called pledge and you've got a siamese twin. One is intentionally hilarious but the other thinks we're laughing with it...

  15. Lisa I totally agree with you about this! I just posted a link on FB about org's that evangelize/attempt to convert when giving food and shelter to the needy-sometimes as a precondition. ( I am not trying to convert anyone to atheism or calling out anyone's views-I think this kind of "what's your opinion on this?" is ok on FB-not the shove it in your face(book-heh heh) kind of religious stuff)
    I am not a believer, and I really get irate when this sort of stuff comes out. I know there are good Christians out there, but there are also many hateful, intolerant, and downright scary evangelical Christians out there too-sometimes even when you don't see it on the surface! I sometimes get that silly poem (or variations of it) in my email from relatives/friends. It, of course is made up by some adult w/ an agenda.
    On FB there are some far far right Christian people, one of whom it turned out (to her dismay-she found this out later, after she befriended him) is Lucinda's former classmates. He's sent out numerous jabs at people for liking certain movies and music that he deems inappropriate, suggesting others that he finds wholesome and other garbage. I want to friend him just to give him a piece of my mind, but Lucinda won't let me!! Living in the South must be hard for that sort of thing! Its hard enough here!
    Thanks! This a great post! I still refuse to do the lol thing though-I can't get used to it! What The Hell!?

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  17. Why is it that some idiots just can't understand, or tolerate, true freedom?? If you want GOD in your school day, go to a Christian/Muslim/Jewish/Hindu/whatever school. But leave the public schools to teach in secular peace.

    Some kid's green hair is offensive, but shoving your religion down that kid's throat isn't? Violating our Constitution by establishing one religion over another isn't?

    And ahh Facebook. If one of my friends posts her extreme views on my posts again, she's gone. I just don't have time for that nonsense.

  18. As a religous person I very much think that school is not a place for proselytising or other evangelizing activities or prayer. It is not appropriate and the very thought of it angers me completely.

    As for all that crap on FB and things that were once sent in ordinary emails, I just ignore it. I use my FB page to write about my faith as I do my blog. You are all free to ignore me.

    I do like the freedom to write about these topics that are dear to me and to share them with the like minded. I would never invite anyone to any group or cause however. I did find it equally insulting when someone recently sent me an invitation to an anti-Christian group. Frankly, all those group things make me angry, whatever their tilt.

    We should all be able to speak and to listen or not listen, we should not be pushing our own views onto others in any unwelcome way.

    It is pretty simple, yet hard to find a path to.

    (btw that 15 year old boy email/fb thing is horseshit. horseshit is one of the most elemental words in my religous lexicon!)

    It is me Fran of FranIam BTW, I am at work. In a church!! And on this blog no less and on FB. My bad!! What horseshit.

  19. I do not, as a rule, post about my religion or my politics on FB. I try to keep it light and friendly - that's what it's about.

    As the token mainstream Christian who is also a fan, may I say you can tweak - just tweak, not pinch - my nipples any time you want.

  20. "Students can pray all they want and do, I'm sure."

    I have had a running gag for years: If you want God in public schools, give more tests.

  21. Lisa, here is one minister who agrees with you wholeheartedly (and all the cool ministers I hang out with would agree as well).

    I regularly am sent pure crap that people assume I will agree with because I am a Jesusy kind of person. That's the beauty of the delete button: I use it.

  22. I actually agree with you, and I BELONG to a church.

    I hated cliques in high school and college; this crap is no different.

    *My Twitter followers are an equal mix of Jewish organizations and...uh...strippers.

    I take glee in this, but have no explanation.

  23. I am over finding it amusing when the intolerant rant about intolerance.

    And when did "we" take "their" guns? I missed it!

  24. Well said. I always get e-mails passed on to me about religion, politics (mostly politics) and a lot of racially insensative jokes. It absolutely amazes me that people automatically assume that I think the same way they do.

    As for the prayer thing. The next time someone asks if prayer should be allowed in school, ask them (since they will probably be what we used to call a Jesus freak) if they would want a Muslim teacher leading the class in prayer.

  25. Man, I'm lucky. I don't get religious stuff forwarded to me. Then again, I'm not on Facebook, and although I have a couple of wingnuts in my family, they are catholics and tend to avoid pressing the religious stuff. That said, I only had someone try to convince me to go to her church once. In law school. I stopped that cold. Of course, I also convinced her that a Snickers candy bar was a well-balanced snack. Let's just say she wasn't at the top of our class.

  26. WTF! So my 2nd cousin by marriage doesn't understand her audience. As I strain my memories of my great-aunt (her mother-in-law) I seem to remember that famous phrase that my grandmother (great-aunt's sister) used to say, "Oh that so and so." I am sure great-aunt said that about me fb cousin.

  27. well, I'd have to defriend a few who I happen to love at the same time, but, I'M SAVED [teehee, doubtful] as they don't read my blog because I am just too "sexual" for them--well, you know, the art has a boob once in awhile but really ??? I said all innocent one day watch my stats jump about now just because of all the people who read your COMMENTS! whoa!!

    well said, dear girl, and that's all I have to say about it further....I think the whole damned mess stinks to high heaven whereever that is but my granny always seemed to be referring to it so, there you go...

    :) xoxox

  28. Call me a sadist, but I love beating the crap out of the religious from the fervent believers to the apologetically faithful on Facebook. Fuck 'em all. They've been kicking our asses with their indoctrination into docile servitude for centuries. It's time we return it in kind.

  29. I'm with the last commenter. Only rarely, a couple of old classmates send out the Jesus stuff, and I gain a larger-than-should-be-admitted thrill at pushing that "DENY" button. But, that's just me. Just for kicks, sometimes it makes me want to post some pro-gay marriage rights something or other.

    Also too, sometimes I like to disagree with a right-wing wall posting, just to see it be inundated with socialistic dissent,

    I pretend it raises awareness and that anyone else notices but me, but mostly, I'm just still avoiding doing the stuff I should be off doing right now.

    Great post.

    You know Mags and Mimi could have a funny FB page.... Fun to imagine. A lot of work, though.

  30. Lisa, well said. I'm a Catholic Christian,and I make no bones about it, but I'm also not one to blog or FB much about my faith. I'm not ashamed of it, but I'm not interested in waving my flag much I've had enought Jewish, Agnostic and other faith or no faith friends to realize that diversity is the wonderful spice of life I enjoy. I'm also smart enough to know that offending anyone with a my way or the highway attitude is just dumb. Yes, in the south prayer in sports is common,and Jesus is king, no pun intended...LOL.
    I tend to dump FB friends like mathman has, but oh well. I guess hiding is a kinder way to go...but who said I was nice?
    Have a great weekend!

  31. I just had to dump one. And it wasn't a Christianist.

    It was a jewish rabbi with some of the most horrid views about muslims as a people that I've ever seen.

  32. At the risk of sounding religious...

    Amen, sistah!! *smiles*

    I do agree whole-heartedly. My parents always send me these right-wing super-religious e-mails. I used to get mad, now I just ignore them.

    Hey, did you see "Religulous" yet? I really enjoyed it. :)

  33. They need to have Facebook for Evangelicals.

  34. I do wish there were a more concise way to say "I'm-a-Christian-but-not-THAT-kind-of-Christian", so as to differentiate between the annoying right-wing push-my-religion-down-your-throat types and those of us like Mags or Fran who are more progressive and wholeheartedly agree with the separation of church and state. It frustrates me that people (even some commenters here) always seem to equate "Christian" with the wingnuts.

  35. Amen.

    "Creation Museum"?

    Puh-leeze. Stoopid.

    Oh, and no 15 year old would write "it's a freedom scene." Too awkward and dated.


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