A local atheist responded to my recent letter to the Editor of the Springfield Journal-Register, a shorter version of my recent post on the Southern Baptist public school exit strategy. Here is her letter:
Writer must not be confident of beliefs
When I read the letter last Tuesday by Charles Cherry advocating wholesale abandonment of the public school system by Christians in order to ensure that children develop a biblical worldview (all the horror I needed for Halloween day!), I hardly knew where to begin in replying.
His assumption that all Christians share his brand of belief? His conviction that schools must be indoctrination centers for an ideology, rather than impartial purveyors of knowledge? His nostalgia for an era when the only acceptable belief was one that agreed with his? His blatant hypocrisy in advocating public funding of private religious schools, when he has just complained about taxes being used to support public schools? The mind reels.
However, upon reflection, I have decided that the heart of the issue lies not in these things, but in a larger question, one that seems never to have occurred to Cherry.
That question is this: If you truly find that the only way to ensure that your children adopt your beliefs is by totally controlling their access to information, that is, by deliberately keeping them in ignorance, isn't that a pretty clear indication that what you believe is not true?
Janet L. Factor, Springfield
I did a quick Google search and found out that Janet heads up a group called "The Springfield Area Freethinkers Meetup Group," which is organized under the Atheists section on the MeetUp site: http://atheists.meetup.com/462/.
I sent Janet a reply to her letter to the editor. Here is my response to her:
I read your response to my letter to the editor in the SJ-R about Christians removing their children from public school.
As you might expect, I heartily disagree with your portrayal of the main points of my letter, but you are entitled to your opinion, as am I. On the other hand, I do think you could have been a little more polite in your response. Ad Hominem attacks, name-calling and insulting people's intelligence does nothing to advance your cause of atheism.
Nowhere did I ever state, or even imply, that all Christians share "my brand of belief." As a Christian, however, I do have the right to assume that all other Christians share the same ~basic~ beliefs that I do, otherwise we could not all call ourselves Christians!
What is the basis for your assumption that only children in public schools have access to information? That sounds rather elitist to me, and tends to strengthen my point that today's public education system is more about secular indoctrination than about quality education.
Along that line, on what do you base your assumption that Christian parents and schoolteachers want to keep their children in an information vacuum? I wonder if you have ever visited a Christian school, or dialogued with a young college student who has had a home school education.
You said in your response:
"His blatant hypocrisy in advocating public funding of private religious schools, when he has just complained about taxes being used to support public schools? The mind reels."
When did I complain about taxes being used to support public schools? This is what I said regarding taxes:
"The public schools receive federal and state tax dollars for each child that attends, anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 per child, per year. Parents who take their children out of the public system still have to pay those taxes, and do not get the benefit of the money."
My point, which you missed entirely, is that parents have to pay educational taxes whether or not their children are in public school. If they take their children out of the system, they still have to pay the taxes, but do not reap any of the benefits of those tax dollars.
You read something into my statement that simply is not there; that is eisegesis, and that is an academic no-no. I am advocating for tax fairness, not complaining about paying taxes. Where is the blatant hypocrisy in that?
I have another question. Why does a biblical worldview scare you? What is your definition of a biblical worldview?
As a Christian, I have a biblical (Christian) worldview. I do not think that you really understand what I mean by that, or you would not be so frightened by it.
As an atheist, you have an atheistic worldview. There are places in the world where Christians (and others of various faiths) are now and have been actively persecuted by people with an atheistic worldview. Of course, I am referring to the old Soviet Union, Communist China, Communist Viet Nam, ?>?>?>?>
One more thing – since when are public schools "impartial purveyors of knowledge"? Impartial is not a word I would use. Public educators are very partial about what they will and will not teach.
Whether or not you want to label what is happening to children in most classrooms "indoctrination of an ideology," that is exactly what is happening. The fact that children are being indoctrinated is indisputable. The definition of indoctrination is "instruction in the fundamentals of a system or belief." The belief system, or ideology, is Secular Humanism. I challenge you to prove me wrong on that.
I think it would have been instructive to the readers of your letter if you had made known your own ideology, atheism, before lambasting mine (and that of millions of others). Knowing that you are a purveyor of atheism puts an entirely different slant on your response.
Feel free to respond to me at firstname.lastname@example.org; I look forward to hearing from you.
I look forward to her reply.
I look forward to her reply.