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What Happens When a Humanist Group Puts Books in Schools? Parents Overreact, Of Course!

What Happens When a Humanist Group Puts Books in Schools? Parents Overreact, Of Course!

Apparently, even the chance that a child might come across some freethought literature is too much for some parents.

The Tri-State Freethinkers, a service-oriented humanist group with members in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, petitioned three Kentucky elementary schools for permission to distribute their materials in the same manner as a Christian group, the Gideons. The group was allowed to enter the elementary schools and leave five copies of their book, Humanism, Whats That?: A Book for Curious Kids. The group was also to avoid talking to students. It was exactly the same process the Gideons are required to adhere to.

No big deal, right? Reportedly, the schools were really cool with this. But some of the parents? Not so much. It appears that many parents kept their kids home from school rather than have them be potentially exposed to a way of thinking that doesn’t involve a supernatural being. According to The Advocate-Messenger:

A small group of adults and children followed Freethinkers Jim G. Helton and Torey Glassmeyer to Walnut Hill and Jones Park, glowering at them from the parking lot as they delivered the books after 5 p.m. Thursday.

Before they arrived at Jones Park, parents walked into the school and demanded to see the table where the books were going to be displayed. Local media were barred from entering the schools and were politely asked to leave when they entered the building.

“We’re here to defend God and his glory,” said one woman, who declined to be named. A male companion muttered to himself as he scanned the parking lot for their car.

You know what they say: Glower at others the way you would want them to glower at you.

This type of response always makes me laugh a little. I often hear religious people speak eloquently about the strength their religion gives them. But, apparently, their faith is a little bit too weak to withstand a little pushback.

But this type of attitude has a darker side. Just a month ago a North Carolina student was bullied into abandoning the atheist group she founded. Kalei Wilson and her family were victims of threats, verbal attacks and attempts to sully her reputation and that of her family, just for trying to form a secular group at her school.

This isn’t anything new. Students across the country are trying to start secular student groups but are having unnecessary obstacles thrown in their way. And these groups are necessary:

The need for high school atheist groups — or indeed, for atheist groups of any kind — is baffling to many people. When USA Today ran an article about Brian Lisco and the SSA’s new high school program, it was met with a barrage of hostile comments… partly in the hysterical “Satan is trolling for the souls of our youth!” vein, but largely with puzzlement and snark, along the lines of, “Why would anyone need a club to talk about what they don’t believe in?”

But the powerful resistance these groups have encountered makes the need for them all too clear. The reality is that atheists are the most distrusted and disliked of all minority groups — more than blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, immigrants, and gays and lesbians — and polls show that Americans are less likely to vote for an atheist than they are for a person in any other minority or marginalized category.

Despite the growing numbers of non-religious Millennials, students receive a lot of hostility. So much so that there is even a Secular Safe Zone program.

I see hints of these wider problems in what went down in Kentucky. Even though the school officials seemed to be nothing but professional, there is a definite lack of understanding in the community. That’s something no number of winning lawsuits can buy.

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Photo Credit: WKYT news report

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119 comments

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11:14AM PDT on Jul 2, 2014

Controversial subject. We need help from a higher power than man.

4:58PM PDT on Apr 14, 2014

Some people really are afraid of change..change and knowledge is what religion and religious people are afraid of. They are afraid their kids will think for themselves and not believing in nonsense, and not just Christianity contains nonsense, that would be all religions.

3:12PM PDT on Apr 14, 2014

the mind, indeed the universe (or multi-universes) are big enough for a variety of opinions and beliefs. I need, for myself, the concept of Something Higher Than Myself. But shoving one's opinions down others' throats (especially one's children) is obnoxious.

7:17PM PDT on Apr 13, 2014

It's the South, what do you expect?

2:41PM PDT on Apr 13, 2014

Tom Y, Romans 12:9 tells us to hate what is evil and cling to what is good, but it’s up to the individual to decide what constitutes “evil” or “good”.
I always had a problem with Job. If it’s real and not a metaphor, God murdered Job’s innocent family just to test Job’s faith. Nothing like God playing games with Satan to prove a point.
My parents encouraged me to read, and allowed me to read whatever I wanted. When I explored Judaism as a teen, they had no problem with that, nor did they question when I skipped Presbyterian service to go to Mass or attend Baptist or Methodist services. They may be uncomfortable that I’ve chosen no religion, but as always, they understand that I must follow my own path.
These parents are afraid their children will begin to question and they won’t have any answers. They’re also afraid their children will leave their faith, which would condemn them to hell and make the parents look bad in the eyes of their church.
Jacob R, the parents can exercise their God given right to keep their kids at home, but it’s the children who will suffer for it.

9:11AM PDT on Apr 13, 2014

@Shrewz Suze claims "hey Mike you missed my point dumass."

Your point was evident for what it was.If you intended something else, your command of language wasn't sufficient to make it clear if you intended something else.

Your preference for avoiding explaining it more clearly and resorting to foul language and name calling shows you for the irritable person you are. I'm all the more delighted that it irritated you that you were taken at your word.instead of some unknown indeterminate "other" reason. Maybe this can be an educational moment for you to learn that you don't know how to communicate very well.

So if you can't make your thought clearly known. It's definitely not the readers fault that you can't make it clear what you intend. The epithet you hurled at me more adequately fits you.

5:35AM PDT on Apr 13, 2014

This is why I will be wherein my tea party sounds much nicer then mob of racists and homophones when I go to Janesville tomorrow Ron Paul grew up there

11:00PM PDT on Apr 12, 2014

hey Mike you missed my point dumass.

10:55PM PDT on Apr 12, 2014

I am glad that it offends you.

Now you know how it feels.

10:12PM PDT on Apr 12, 2014

the tone of this story offends me

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