I have a piece at the Guardian about “The Thaw,” a video produced by the conservative Christian “youth leadership” organization Reach America (video and transcript at the end of this post). In the article, I talk about the persecution complex that often characterizes white conservative U.S. evangelicals, and how this persecution complex drives evangelical activism and also obscures real oppression – in this case, in the public schools that “The Thaw” claims oppress Christians.
It’s this cognitive dissonance that’s most striking, and disturbing, about “The Thaw”. The language of bullying and social isolation of students who don’t fit in, increasingly a concern for many parents and schools, is harnessed for a defense of the imagined good old (viz segregated) days when conservative Christian tenets were even more privileged in school curricula: abstinence-only education, creation science, mandatory school prayers, etc. The absence of such privileges – infringements on the equal rights of students and families who believe differently – is presented as bullying and persecution. As Reach America director Gary Brown says:
“Bullying is in the eyes of the beholder, I guess.”
Read the rest at The Guardian.
I have to say, I know the video is a mix of alarming, ridiculous, and funny to a lot of people – but the kids in the video shouldn’t be blamed for saying such outrageous things. They’re only repeating what they’ve been taught. Knowing something of how sheltered and manipulated these kids must be, I feel very sorry for them – especially the lone black kid in the group! I know how that feels, and it’s not fun at all.
Anyway, here’s the transcript, with some annotations:
Christianity is being completely frozen out of America.
Why can’t I pray in school?
Why do I have to check my religion at the door?
Why can’t I write about God in my school papers?
Why do I have to tolerate people cursing my God, but I am not allowed to talk about God and my faith?
Why are they taking God out of my history books?
Why do they teach every other theory in science except creation?
Why am i called names because I believe in marriage the way got designed it?Some even call us hateful. Hypocrites.
Why can’t Tim Tebow praise God after making a touchdown without causing a national uproar?
[reality: Tebow is immensely popular]
The football coach at Ridgeland High School in Georgia was investigated by the school board.
Did he abuse his students?
Is he a terrorist?
He allowed local churches to feed his football team. [actually, he forced his players to sit through sermons for team dinners]
*Several of the children gasp and grimace in an exaggerated fashion.*
In public school, I’m called lesbian or gay for not kissing, or for wanting to save myself for marriage.
In public school, dating is an obligation.
In public school, people are rude and disrespectful towards Christians.
Bullying is common.
What we see in our health classes – “sex education”
FOURTH grade and up –
People make fun of me because I don’t believe in abortion.
In public school, people believe Christians are goody goods and boring.
Dirty jokes fill the hallways between classes.
after school, on the bus, off the bus.
Get the idea?
Despite modern popular belief, America was founded as a Christian nation.
My grandparents tell me that the church used to be the center of the community
In school prayer and pledge to the flag was welcomed and appreciated No one would dare not to stand place their hand over their heart and recite the pledge.
America was once a force for good.
America was once the hope for the world.
[Question: isn’t this, um, supposed to be Jesus? Not America? – G]
In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled that prayer was unconstitutional in schools. [false – school sponsored prayer, yes]
in 1963, the courts ruled the Bible unconstitutional. [also false]
Saying that if the Ten Commandments were read in schools,
A student might feel inclined to follow them.
For over 50 years christians have been unwilling to get involved
People who do not love our god
have stolen our country
Jesus said we are salt and light.
Salt and light melt ice.
It is time for a thaw.
President Ronald Reagan [of COURSE] called America a shining light on a hill, a beacon of hope for the world to see.
We are going to let our little American lights shine.
Through the power of Jesus Christ we proclaim today,
We refuse to be frozen out of the public square.
Our voices will be heard.
Let’s reverse it.
We are going to turn it around.
This is a call to our generation.
We are calling on the youth of America to join us.
At Reach America, we are creating a Christ Centered Counter Culture – a C4 community.
A place filled with Christian teens on a mission
to reach America and our friends for Christ.
Christ and our country matter to us.
At Reach America, we are learning to reach our generation.
We are servants, encouragers.
We are learning to hear god’s voice and adjust our lives to his will
God is changing our lives.
We are building life changing relationships.
We are a family.
We are a team.
We are an army.
Christ is our commander.
His will is our charge.
We are impacting our friends, our families, our coomunity, our state, our country.
We are in a war for the hearts and souls of our generation,
and we know it.
Failure is not an option.
We are going to win this war.
If god be for us,
who can be against us
The thaw has begun.
High school Christian teens, join us.
Join us at Reach America
in the fight for our generation,
for our future.
we still hold these truths to be self-evident:
that all men are created equal.
That they are endowed by their creator
with certain unalienable rights.
That among these are life,
and the pursuit of happiness.
Join the movement at Reach America.
Let’s reach our communities.
Let’s reach our states.
Let’s reach America.
Adults, please pray for us,
and get involved
Together, looking to Christ as a strength, the thaw wil be complete,
and America will be one nation under god. Again.