Evangelical School Assemblies

14 December, 2008

When I was in elementary school, we had school assemblies about once a month.  Sometimes it was a juggler.  There was a professional diver.  An archer who told the history of archery (and made some great trick shots).  Once, when I was in fourth grade, we had a story teller come in.  The whole school (about 180 students K through 12) assembled in the gymnasium.

The man was a wonderful story teller.  For his finale, he retold Genesis.  It was beautiful.  He spoke of the creation of the universe, the earth, the mountains.  Though I knew it was a worth less than a load of foetid dingo’s kidneys, I was entertained.

As we walked back to the elementary school, I commented to a friend that it was a really neat story.  He replied that it was not a story, that is how the world was actually created.  I laughed and lost a friend.  I trod upon his most precious beliefs.  I mocked (unintentionally) his religion.

This was, of course, in the days when religious programs in school were more acceptable.

We moved back to Maryland and I was thrust into a Bible-belt culture.  My new school had fewer assemblies (though a lot more students).  I remember one (I think I was in ninth or maybe my first try at tenth grade) in which a ‘recovered drug addict’ spoke to us for an hour.  He described, in intimate detail, his separation from God, his descent into drug abuse and sexual depravity (not a whole lot of detail in the sexual depravity department, though), finding God again, and kicking the drug habit.  Without God, we were all in danger of drug addiction.

Another assembly included an hour-long performance by a born-again gospel choir.  The music was very well done.  The dancing was fantastic.  And the preaching was, well, preachy.

This was, of course, back in the day when publicly financed proselytizing was okay.

I assumed (silly me) that this sort of publicly financed proselytizing in the public schools was passe.  Our growing appreciation, as Americans, of the importance of religious diversity, toleration, and the separation of the church and the state.  Which is, of course, bullshit.

The same people, the same groups, the same churches which were trying to indoctrinate school children with Christian fundamentalism in the seventies and eighties are still doing it today.  Case in point? 

From the great state of Minnesota, which recently brought us the neo-McCarthyite Michelle Bachmann comes a right wing religious cult which has managed to trick schools into paying $1500 bucks (of taxpayers money) for a school program in which girls are told they must be slaves to their husbands and Bible verses are read to the captive students.  (I found this at Greg Laden’s Blog.)

Turns out that the church sponsoring this idiocy is actually the same church Michelle Bachmann attends.  Which is kind of scary.  Actually, I take that back.  Its a lot scary. (And here are some additional stories about the same group/)

I would have hoped that America would have advanced more since the dim, dark days of the 20th Century.  I would have hoped that the use of  tax dollars to pay evangelical recruiters to come into the public schools and preach to captive kids would have ended. 

Stupid of me, I know.  But I am ever the optimistic atheist.



  1. They still euchre “The Message” in any time they can and they’re quite unapologetic about it. I heard one person say something about a Pauline passage or two which justifies such a lack of honesty. I’ve always wondered who was the real mythical “Father of Lies”.

    In the ’50s and ’60s we used to get the political message, too. Once it got very interesting.

    In 1964 the president of GE came to town and told us all about the beauty of the capitalist system and competiton. The market, all this shit they still trot out and then turn around and trample. Oh yes, how the American Sysyem was so great, justice for all, the commies want us all to renounce god, wear cover alls, and fart in the palaces of the mighty and other unseemly things, so look out. I saw the movie where Gecko says that “greed is good” and was reminded of that assembly.

    Two weeks after he showed up at our school there was a major scandal and we got a peek into the sausage factory.

    Turned out that GE and other contractors colluded and more or less took turns fleecing Rich Uncle, used corruption to run the smaller groups out of business using political influence, and a whole lot of other things.

    We got a chance to see how the “system” works. The attorney General had to be ordered by Johnson to prosecute in spite of clear criminality, a couple of people got jailed, and fines were levied at the last. And, it turned out that the penalties were tax deductable.

    That was one of the few times that we actually got anything useful out of an assembly. Proof positive that the game was rigged from the git-go.

  2. Well, gosh darn it, (((Billy))), religious nuts are allowed to get graphic and manipulative with kids while the rest of us are stand by and say, “Yeah, that stuff is good for them. Give them some more.” Don’tcha know that? It’s right there in The Manual. You betcha.

  3. Sarge: That’s one of the fun things about education. Sometimes the lesson learned is not the lesson intended. One thing still the same, though. The little people get the book thrown at them and the rich and powerful (Bush, Cheney, Rummy) can break the law with impunity.

    Chappie: Its just another example of, “If you tell the lie often enough, people will start to believe it.” Or continue to believe it.

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