Knox County School Board and Religious Expression

Tonight the Knox County School Board passed a Religious Expression Policy. The policy basically says that the school district will do nothing to encourage or discourage religious actions or activities and the school district will follow the law. It encourages students and parents to file complaints with the principal and ultimately with the Superintendent. The policy charges the Superintendent with the ultimate authority.

Nothing to complain about with this policy. The first two public speakers; Maya Ayesh and Arnold Cohen, I have no significant issue with what they said. Maya Ayesh indicated that only those students that are part of the religious minority are discriminated or taunted. That is not the case and I will deal with that later.

The third speaker, Carol Silver Alford of the Cedar Bluff community took the opportunity to spread some of the most vile anti-Christian rhetoric that I have heard in some time. She proceeded to tell a story about her daughter attending a Y.O.K.E meeting after school. She indicated that she (the mother) knew what Y.O.K.E was but her daughter insisted that it was an after school activity and the mother let her daughter attend. Her daughter was then upset about the after school Christian activity. Well, hello, who is running the house and the religious beliefs you or your minor child? Ms. Alford stated that NO religious organization should be able to use the schools, this is based on her anti-Christian views, I assume.

Here are the problems with her position.

1) The school buildings were built with the citizens tax dollars, they should be available for any group that is a legitimate group that can possess the insurance, provide compensation for a school employee to open and close the school and doesn’t damage the structure, after hours and on weekends. They must follow the school district rules and be respectful of any othe rgroups meeting at the same time.

2) Many schools do not have adequate furniture and infrastructure, this type of arrangement assists those schools. A.L. Lotts for several years was home of Westlake Church, the church provided chairs (adult), risers and many other items that are still being used today, even tough West lake is gone. West Valley Middle School was home to Northstar Church and has chairs (adult), public address system in the gymnasium and many other items that the school district couldn’t afford.

I don’t have a problem if if it is a Christian Church, a Muslim community, a Jewish group. But, to adhere to Ms. Alford position is irresponsible and single minded.

Now, the position that only believers in a religious minority group suffer from taunts, discrimination etc. Is not the case. There are many times within the past 10 years that I have had young high school students (many who are ministers, today) that have come to me and said that because they wore a Christian shirt, carried their Bible, attended a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting, Young life meeting or a particular church that other students and faculty members have told them they were members of a cult. My advice to them is to turn the other cheek, ignore the comment (for they know not what they say), pray for the person and carry on.

At the end of the school board meeting, a lady spoke on public forum and indicated that this policy was because of actions of some at Farragut Intermediate School. It is unfortunate that the school district couldn’t ensure that one school complied, so they pass one policy for all 85 + school buildings. But that’s where we are as a society. Sigh.

Post Script: When I ran for re-election, I received many emails asking for my view on the Bible. I gave my view without hesitation, It Is The inerrant Word Of God. God breathed. God’s message to his followers and believers. A few anti-Christian bias voters? I don’t know. I stand by my position on the Word and about the Word.

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2 Responses

  1. I agree strongly with your stance and disagree strongly with Carol Silver Alford.

    Any group should be able to use the facilities within the constraints you outlined. To exclude a group because of religious affiliation would open the door to simply having a blanket policy of “school facilities are for school activities only” and that would be dreadful.

    Many scout groups succeed because they meet in schools allowing students to go from school straight to their den meeting. Scouting is a very religious organization and under Mrs Alford’s position would have to be excluded from the schools. Scouting has a very positive impact on children’s lives. Adults’ resumes that note the achievement of Eagle Scout (boys) or Gold Awards (girls) often get consideration above others. Scouting teaches skills, discipline and confidence.

    If you disagree with a group, don’t attend. If you disagree with a movie, don’t see it. Let’s not limit others because of our own narrowmindedness.

  2. Stushie says:

    hey Brian, I wrote this devotional for our church and folks around the world last week. I entitled it: “Who Do we Think We Are?”

    1 Timothy 3: 15 …if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. (NIV)

    A school coach in a town is being vilified because he told one of his students to “just read your Bible.” Church people are up in arms, claiming ‘religious discrimination.’ Infuriated pastors are ready to march on the school.

    A pastor and other church members in the Mid-West go to a homosexual’s funeral with placards, condemning the deceased to Hell and make loud protests during the graveside service.

    Ministers preach from their pulpits about the sinfulness of our public education system and demonize the teachers, appealing to their members to send their kids to church schools.

    Meanwhile thousands of people are killed in Darfur, Sudan for their faith.

    Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of kids in the United States go to bed hungry each night.

    Meanwhile millions of people around the globe die of curable diseases.

    In other words, the Church is becoming isolated and alienated from the real world due to arrogance, elitism, and pettiness. The world is on fire, folks, and we are peeing in the roses.

    I just wonder what Paul would think about all of this? When he wrote to Timothy about people knowing how to conduct themselves in God’s household, did he really mean us? When he called us the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth, was he really referring to us hyper-sensitive Christians who are ready to cry “Discrimination!” when things don’t go our way?

    It’s about time we grew up spiritually, and started to take our mission in the world seriously. Instead of being whining Christians, we should be winning souls. Instead of moaning about our rights, we should bring meaning into the world. Instead of compacting conspiracies about being mistreated, we should be conveying compassion to the maltreated.

    We have a great message, a great hope, and a great mission, which have the potential to reform, transform and enhance the world. So, let’s not focus on our petty grievances, folks. Both Christ and the world deserve far more than that. Let’s turn the other cheek, instead of trying to stick the boot in. Let’s win our enemies, instead of whining at them.

    Prayer: Lord Jesus, shake us out of our slumber and remove the planks from our eyes. Help us to become a real household of faith, instead of a self-righteous, hostile family. Change our selfish ways, so that we can begin again to change the world. In Your Holy name, we fervently pray. Amen.