Opinion

Secularists tyrannizing SK’s schools

Sound Off is a public forum. Articles are selected from letters to the editor or may be written specifically for this feature. Today, Port Orchard Ron Boehme laments the decision earlier this month by the South Kitsap School Board not to resume calling its December vacation “Christmas Break” instead of “Winter Break.”

I was stunned and saddened by the Aug. 15 decision by the South Kitsap School board to rename “Christmas Break” to “Winter Break.” Because South Kitsap is the largest high school in the state and the decision was so outrageously politically correct, the Associated Press picked up the story and sent it all over the nation.

I was asked to do interviews by a number of media outlets, and arriving home one night following the vote, I flicked on Fox News just as a picture of Port Orchard appeared on the screen with Shepard Smith doing commentary. Apparently much of the nation has learned that the SK School District decided to go the way of the old Soviet Union and cleanse the school calendar of religion. It’s a sad day for freedom and for children.

To give a little background, since the 1820s when public schools began forming in the United States, the curriculum, values and publications of these institutions were based on the majority worldview of the public — the Judeo-Christian worldview. Minority views were respected, but not allowed to dominate the whole.

Thus the Bible was used extensively for over 150 years, kids learned to read from books like the McGuffey Readers, and school schedules and calendars reflected the culturally recognized names of holidays and important events. The South Kitsap schools shared in this democratic heritage — and the blessings that came from it.

Four decades ago, after a century-and-a-half of democratic practice, a vocal minority of secularists began to chip away at the acceptance of the Christian worldview in public life, focusing their efforts in particular on education.

Aided by a few questionable Supreme Court decisions, they successfully removed the Bible and prayer from the classrooms, religious content from commencement addresses, and even religious speech from football games.

When I was in school during the 1960s and early ’70s, this subtle form of censorship was just beginning. We could still use the Bible freely, sing Christmas carols at the Christmas concert, and we even had a prayer in the locker room before basketball games (we didn’t pray to win, just to be good sports and avoid injury.).

During this time, the majority worldview of the nation hadn’t changed. According to a Gallup poll, 90 percent of the nation still believed in God, but the general public was culturally asleep and let a small minority force its views on the rest of us.

In essence, we allowed a secular form of tyranny (unjust, non-democratic power) take control of our kids’ learning.

In 1984, the South Kitsap School Board participated in this secular takeover by quietly changing the school calendar to reflect atheistic values. The holiday known as “Christmas Break” for more than 70 years in the school district became “Winter Break.”

Which brings us to the present. In June, the South Kitsap School board voted 4-1 to change the holiday name back to its original and majority-representing name of “Christmas Beak.” I was one of those who attended a board meeting and thanked the members for their fair and appropriate decision. I mentioned how there were already more than 12 secular holidays on the calendar (such as Flag Day, Valentine’s Day, Labor Day, etc.) and even one satanic holiday — Halloween.

I praised them for being fair-minded about “Christmas Break,” since over 75 percent of Washingtonians are religious. Only one man, a long-time secular agitator, asked them to re-consider their vote. (I once served with this same man on a curriculum committee at the high school. He was not only anti-religion, but advocated the reading of soft-core pornography in the classrooms.)

Regardless of his suggestion, I thought the decision would stand. How wrong I was.

At the August meeting the secularists turned out in force (mostly school employees) and out-numbered the faith-oriented general populace by 3-1 (many SK residents were not aware of the meeting).

After some preliminary statements by the school board members, 12 people were allowed to give short speeches about the issue, of whom nine toed the secular line.

The arguments that the mostly school employees used were flimsy and deceptive. The first was the “separation of church and state” — one of the most lied-about topics in modern America. The First Amendment was written to stop Congress from establishing a National Church and guarantee free religious expression. Period.

Thomas Jefferson’s famous phrase was written in a letter to the Danbury Baptists about the distinction between church and civil government. It had nothing to do with keeping God and faith out of public life.

In fact, the day Jefferson wrote the letter he attended a worship service in the Capitol building. Even the “enlightened” Mr. Jefferson understood the importance of religious faith in public life.

The second argument used by the secularists was one of toleration. They said that people of faith needed to be “tolerant” of other faiths and not make them feel like second-class citizens. Unfortunately, they forgot to look in the mirror.

For 150 years the God-fearing worldview in the schools did respect other faiths and traditions. Today, nothing is tolerated in the schools except the tenets of atheism.

Their third, and similar, argument was one of diversity. With religious holidays already a dying species, and secular holidays dominating the calendar, how is removing the most prominent religious holiday “encouraging diversity?”

At the end of my turn, I asked the board to be intellectually honest and fair by postponing its vote and doing a survey of SK families related to their values and beliefs. Then they could base their decision on the majority view.

This survey of South Kitsap families would not only be extremely helpful to the school district but would give empirical validity to any future decisions about holidays, curriculum, and school policy.

If the majority of families in Port Orchard were secular, then it would be totally appropriate to have the secular worldview dominate the public schools. But if the Judeo-Christian worldview was the majority, then the opposite would be true. That’s the way democracy works.

At the end of the debate, Patty Henderson, Chris Lemke, Keith Garton, and Gregg Scott chose minority rule, 3-0 (Scott abstained).

Their minds were made up.

The real losers here are those of us in South Kitsap who allowed this abuse of power to happen. Do we comprehend the hostile worldview takeover that is taking place in our public institutions? Do we understand that our public schools have become the least democratic part of our entire community (and nation)? Do we care so little for our children that we are willing to abandon them to religiously cleansed schools that are only fit for the former Soviet Union?

Enough is enough. This fight is not about one little word. It’s about the democratic future of our culture. In South Kitsap, it’s about 11,000 kids being treated fairly with respect.

Maybe it’s time for electoral cleansing of the South Kitsap School board to reflect the wishes of the people.

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