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1 b_sharp  Apr 5, 2014 4:36:01pm

Ding, ding, ding.
(Just chiming in)

I think she needs to back up a bit and really look at her surroundings. The majority of Americans are Christian, so everybody else, including members of the thousands of other religions is going to bump up against it from time to time.

I’m not really sure hunting for eggs is really a Christian thing, it sounds more Pagan than anything else. Perhaps it’s time for us to steal back the idea of chocolate eggs, rabbits and Disney characters for chocaholics everywhere.

That said, if Christian churches don’t want atheist flyers, or Muslim flyers, or Buddhist flyers delivered to their churches and homes, then they should stop trying to convert non-Christians to their particular brand of ,… um, let’s just say bias.

2 Decatur Deb  Apr 5, 2014 4:39:51pm

Once took a basket of rugelach to an Army staff meeting. No one complained.

3 calochortus  Apr 5, 2014 5:05:58pm

Speaking as an atheist, Easter Egg hunt? Great!
Being inclusive (inviting everyone?) Fabulous.
Handing out flyers in school? I’m not totally comfortable.

Who gets ‘access’ to the kids and who doesn’t? It is almost certainly a nice gesture on the part of this church, but it is advertising. Is there a school policy about what groups can and can’t distribute flyers to the kids?
For the record-I’m not crazy about the various commercial items, however educational, that are promoted in many schools.

I do understand Muslims being touchy about it, though.

4 John Vreeland  Apr 5, 2014 6:01:40pm

It’s a pagan thing. It’s just that it was celebrated by xians who sort of assumed it had something to do with their religion since it was celebrated at Easter, which is actually the name of the pagan festival that had nothing to do with xianity.

Of course, she may be fine with xianity. Muslims tend to get freaked out by pagan rituals.

5 Charles Johnson  Apr 5, 2014 6:05:38pm

Easter eggs and bunnies aren’t actually symbols of Christianity except in a very loose sense. They’re actually a vestigial remnant of Christianity’s pagan roots.

I can see the point that this Presbyterian church shouldn’t really have that kind of special access to a public school, though.

6 sagehen  Apr 5, 2014 6:10:19pm

Egg hunts and bunnies are as “religious” as Santa Claus and reindeer… as part of the general local culture, it can certainly be done as a fun, inclusive secular thing without prosteletyzing. Purim festivals are happy to welcome people who don’t share the faith but want to share in the pastry. Don’t Muslims have some observances that are not-especially-pious where others can enjoy the food and music as a tourist?

7 CuriousLurker  Apr 5, 2014 6:36:33pm

re: #4 John Vreeland

It’s a pagan thing. It’s just that it was celebrated by xians who sort of assumed it had something to do with their religion since it was celebrated at Easter, which is actually the name of the pagan festival that had nothing to do with xianity.

Of course, she may be fine with xianity. Muslims tend to get freaked out by pagan rituals.

She who “may be fine with xianity”?

No, most of us don’t get freaked out by pagan rituals as long as no one is trying to force us to participate in them.

Muslims believe that Abraham (a.s.) built the Kaaba (in a much simpler form than it now exists) as a monotheistic center of worship, but that after his death it was appropriated by pagan Arabs for the worship of various personal gods. It was then eventually re-appropriated for monotheism by Muhammad after the conquest of Mecca, and all the idols it held were destroyed.

8 CuriousLurker  Apr 5, 2014 6:41:58pm

re: #6 sagehen

….Don’t Muslims have some observances that are not-especially-pious where others can enjoy the food and music as a tourist?

Of course, but those events aren’t typically held at mosques.

9 palmerskiss  Apr 5, 2014 6:45:48pm

Second, it’s my understanding based on this article an a couple of others that the church didn’t put their name or logo on the flyer, nor was it decorated with any crosses or other religious symbols.

If in good faith it is not an attempt to proselytize, I see no issue with this. This would be nothing more than cultural sharing and there should never be an issue with cultural exchange.

“It really bothered my two kids,” said parent Majed Moughni, who is Muslim and has two children, ages 7 and 9, in Dearborn elementary schools. “My son was like, ‘Dad, I really don’t feel comfortable getting these flyers, telling me to go to church. I thought churches are not supposed to mix with schools.’ “

I think how a parent approaches this issue is important - as an atheist - i have been in this position before.

If the parent and the child have a healthy understanding of religion and tolerance, exposure to other religions, when they are not attempting to proselytize is a healthy, educational experience. However, I have also found myself on the other side - “have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal saviour?” - in these circumstances, politely remarking “indeed, along with danger mouse, chibi maru, and Boudicca, - have you heard of Boudicca? would you like to come over and attend a ritual we have in her honor?” usually does the trick.

10 palmerskiss  Apr 5, 2014 6:51:10pm

re: #5 Charles Johnson

Easter eggs and bunnies aren’t actually symbols of Christianity except in a very loose sense. They’re actually a vestigial remnant of Christianity’s pagan roots.

I can see the point that this Presbyterian church shouldn’t really have that kind of special access to a public school, though.

The idea of symbols and relics, becoming less powerful when used in larger secular social engagements, has virtue. Traditionalists call it “perversion” but it really is just ‘progression’ or ‘evolution’ of religious symbols into secular social tchotchke.

“is nothing sacred?”

,,,”nope”

11 Shvaughn  Apr 5, 2014 7:13:30pm

As a Christian I really dislike the idea of Christian organizations — or any religious groups — distributing their invitations via a public school.

We have separation of church and state for a reason, and the mother in this story is right to protest.

12 becominginvisible  Apr 5, 2014 7:22:04pm

It’s a church handing out fliers at a public school for an event at a church. It doesn’t matter if it’s an Easter Egg Hunt or a spring donut roll. It’s a church handing out fliers at a public school for an event at a church. What rituals have been co-oped by what religion has nothing to do with the problem of a church asking children to come to an event at the church. Non-christian children don’t have to participate. The event was advertised at the school and non-christians are being singled out (for lack of a better term) for not being part of the group. It’s a chance to cause division wrapped as an innocent ‘fun’ event. How children perceive gatherings is different to how adults reconcile that the church is pandering a pagan ritual as local culture.

I was raised christian and shed the superstition and ritual many years ago. I just get so very tired of seeing and hearing the christian religious crap being called harmless. As adults we can ignore all the superstition and implied insults. Children get teased and bullied for not being part of this group or that group. It would be inclusive if it was open to everyone and not held at a church and the fliers weren’t handed out at a mosque or a synagog, they were handed out at a public school.

13 Randall Gross  Apr 5, 2014 7:44:38pm

The school is way off base distributing flyers for the church because it gives the flyers an invisible stamp of official school sanction and approval.

The parents and kids are right to complain, just as I am right when I complain about other religious organization sponsored events (like those yoga classes from a religious foundation…) at schools.

14 theheat  Apr 5, 2014 7:58:35pm

Not sure I’m liking this in a public school. To me, it smacks of the church saying “we got access to the kids first, and now we can entice them to come to ours by them following this friendly little trail of breadcrumbs to our door.” Nope, don’t like it one bit. Smells like recruiting.

Mind you, it’s not the egg hunt and typical Easter time activities that bother me - they don’t. They don’t bother me any more than Christmas trees or Santa Claus, simply because the religious symbolism (Christ-mas) to those “things” has been so hijacked by commercialism, religion is not required to participate.

I would think it would have been more on the up-and-up to approach other local churches/mosques and extend an invitation through them. As well, they could have posted flyers, posters, or grabbed some radio spots. Even if recruitment wasn’t at the center of this, by approaching local religious institutions with open invites rather than zero in on the school, there would be no room for misunderstandings regarding their intentions.

15 CuriousLurker  Apr 5, 2014 9:02:17pm

b_sharp, Decatur Deb, calochortus, John Vreeland, Charles Johnson, sagehen, palmerskiss, Shvaughn, becominginvisible, Randall Gross, theheat:

Many thanks to all of you for taking the time to respond—you’ve made good points and given me things to consider. It’s nice to have a sounding board available. It’s sorta like having a bunch of extra eyes, ears, and brains that can catch & process the stuff I miss (or things that fall into one of my blind spots).

At the moment I’m thinking about rugelach. Nom, nom, nom… //

16 J A P  Apr 5, 2014 9:04:09pm

If I had a child in that school I’d be mad. I’m speaking not simply as an atheist who was raised by two non-believing parents, but as someone who grew up in a town that had a large Jewish population. Anything that smacked of even the slightest whiff of favoritism towards Christianity received a push back. The thing about the social pressure inherent in a dominant culture is that its not just one event. It’s the constant drip, drip, drip. So, your sense that you want to look at this event and shrug is spot on. But now pile it up as a childhood of one event like this after another where Christians seem to receive some slight favoritism from institutions. It gives the child a very pointed message about his or her place in the community.

Secularism is a funny concept. Many people seem to interpret it to mean non-religious. Really, it’s a neutral ground that allows us all to live together harmoniously. Although the Jews in our town were not the only non-Christians, the were the only group large enough and organized enough to push back against this sort of thing. All of us benefited from it, I think, including the Christians who learned to consider the feelings of others.

Oh, yes. I went to the Purim festival at the local reform temple every year. I don’t recall flyers ever being handed out in school, though. It’s not the Easter egg hunt itself. Its the teachers handing out the flyers.

It might be worth adding that one aspect of my childhood that I can genuinely look back on with some fondness, and not a small amount of nostalgia, is the fact that as kids so many of us came from different religions but it didn’t affect our ability to be friends.

17 CuriousLurker  Apr 5, 2014 9:41:30pm

re: #16 J A P

Great response, thanks.

My dad was basically agnostic, but my mom was Catholic, so I was raised in a mostly secular home with church on weekends & holidays. I was never baptized as a child because my dad put his foot down when the church wanted him to promise that I’d be raised Catholic—he basically said, “No, absolutely not. She can choose whatever she wants when she comes of age.” LOL, I’m pretty sure he had no idea that I’d end up Muslim.

Anyway, the point I was going to make is that I grew up (in South Central Texas) as part of the dominant culture. Being half white & half hispanic and having olive skin & dark eyes, I was sensitive to racial bigotry, but was pretty much oblivious to its other forms. For example, there were a couple of self-identified Jewish kids in every school I went to (I’m now sure there probably more who simply wanted to keep a low profile), but I was only vaguely aware that they were somehow “different” and were required to go to Hebrew school instead of Sunday school. IOW, I had no real concept of what being Jewish meant apart from whatever was taught in church.

So thanks for pointing that out. Growing up, I never knew the sting of being a religious outsider. I did however have my first encounter with being called a “Messkin”1 by a white kid in 1st grade gym class during a game of dodge ball.

*SIGH* I really hate that people pass their prejudices on to their kids, but I guess that’s another discussion for another day.

————————————————————

1.) In case you’re not familiar with it, “Messkin” is an epithet commonly used in Texas to refer to anyone who is perceived to be Mexican. It doesn’t matter where you were born or if you even have any Mexican blood, all that matters is that you’re brown and therefore deserving of snarling contempt.

18 Ming  Apr 5, 2014 10:12:12pm

Schools should be prepared for this. Religious organizations will, on occasion, try to gain the “endorsement” of the school. You can’t legislate against this with 100% effectiveness. It’s not that hard for the religious organization to find a way around the legislation, e.g. Easter Egg hunt and raffle! Proceeds go to this muscular dystrophy organization!

Private corporations do exactly the same thing, subtly and not-so-subtly sneaking into the school. Buy your shiny, expensive notebooks and colorful pencils in the auditorium! Save parents the time of driving to the store! Pick up the school supplies when you pick up your kids! And while you’re at it, we’ll sign you up for our department store credit card!

Schools really need to have some standards about this. In my opinion, these standards should fail an Easter Egg hunt pretty quickly. So in this case, I think the Muslim parents were right to complain. A public elementary school should be a protected environment, in the sense that the spirit of “no trespassing, no soliciting” is taken seriously.

19 KiTA  Apr 5, 2014 10:46:13pm

Consider the alternative: If a local Muslim group had handed out flyers at the school inviting children to join them in some ritualistic starvation, even without any form of official church stamp, the local Christian cultists would have had a fit and this would have ended up on Fox News.

I’d use a more light hearted Islamic holiday than Ramadan, but… ARE there any?

20 Decatur Deb  Apr 6, 2014 4:49:20am

re: #18 Ming

…snip
Schools really need to have some >standards about this. In my opinion, these standards should fail an Easter Egg hunt pretty quickly. So in this case, I think the Muslim parents were right to complain. A public elementary school should be a protected environment, in the sense that the spirit of “no trespassing, no soliciting” is taken seriously.

It’s useful to break the question down:
The real problem was using the school as a messenger boy for a church activity—clearly wrong.

The issue of Easter eggishness itself is almost immaterial. Easter egg rolls are to Christianity as vegan egg rolls are to Buddhism. Even Kenyan Muslim Communists sponsor Easter egg rolls:

Image: Obamas_Easter_Egg_Roll_550x300.jpg

21 ObserverArt  Apr 6, 2014 5:56:21am

If the event was in a public park…good. A church distributing flyers in a public school, not good. It sort of smacks as a chance for recruitment. But I may have an exception.

If the church had said the event was a special way to have religions come together in an open and fun way for the kids it might be a ground breaker. If the flyer specifically said ALL religions and non-religious are invited to share fun and act as a way to learn and communicate about their shared concerns and to learn about unique differences to help strengthen the community then it might be pretty cool.

Any thing that teaches about differences and how we are all still the same in many ways and focuses on breaking down walls, attitudes and suspicions would be a good thing in my book. As a matter of fact, this is what ALL churches should strive to do. Be open and inviting and inform others about your religion while you ask your members to learn about theirs.

Does that make sense? Or, does it make too much sense?

22 Decatur Deb  Apr 6, 2014 6:14:09am

re: #21 ObserverArt

Pollyanna wants a Quaker.

23 Dark_Falcon  Apr 6, 2014 7:11:42am

re: #21 ObserverArt

That makes sense.

As for me, the egg hunt seems to have no religious overtones so while the parents in question will get no flak from me if they protest, I ultimately think the fliers are acceptable. I’d argue that next year such fliers should make clear this is not a religious event or the event should not be held at the church. But this is at root a non-religious event and so I’m OK with the school putting up fliers. The school district should explain those facts calmly and non-confrontationally.

24 John Vreeland  Apr 6, 2014 9:51:05am

re: #7 CuriousLurker

What I meant was that xians are taxed and tolerated. But pagans are not. The Quran left me with a distinct feeling that “pagans”—those religions that were not accepted by Mohammed during those periods when he needed to make friends—deserve death.

So there was a list or two of religions that were not to be killed outright, but anything else was to be destroyed. I would not be surprised to discover serious charges being leveled at anyone who tried to organize an easter-egg hunt in Riyadh.

25 CuriousLurker  Apr 6, 2014 11:36:41am

re: #19 KiTA

Consider the alternative: If a local Muslim group had handed out flyers at the school inviting children to join them in some ritualistic starvation, even without any form of official church stamp, the local Christian cultists would have had a fit and this would have ended up on Fox News.

I’d use a more light hearted Islamic holiday than Ramadan, but… ARE there any?

The way you’ve framed things precludes civil discussion.

26 palmerskiss  Apr 6, 2014 11:56:20am

re: #25 CuriousLurker

The way you’ve framed things precludes civil discussion.

Consider the alternative: If a local Muslim group had handed out flyers at the school inviting children to join them in some ritualistic starvation, even without any form of official church stamp, the local Christian cultists would have had a fit and this would have ended up on Fox News.

which is exactly why we should strive to behave better than they. That, because we know that is how they would approach this if it was a muslim group, is why we should tolerate non-proselytizing religious culture.

27 CuriousLurker  Apr 6, 2014 1:07:15pm

re: #24 John Vreeland

Thanks for the clarification.

Let me address Saudi Arabia first, since you brought it up: I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but Saudi Arabia is NOT to Islam as the Vatican is to Catholics. There is no central religious authority in Islam, so what the religious authorities in Riyadh will or won’t tolerate has no bearing whatsoever on what I—as a Muslim living in New Jersey, USA—should or shouldn’t tolerate.

Muslims—like atheists, or Americans, or brunettes, or taxi drivers, or ANY large group of people—are not a monolith driven by some sort of hive mind. I’m bringing this up because in your #4 you referred to “Muslims” without distinction, which is an enormous & enormously diverse chunk of humanity.

Regarding whatever you’ve read from the Qur’an, I’m certain I wouldn’t have much difficulty finding hair-raising passages about who deserves death in many religions’ scriptures, especially if I grab a translation and read everything literally & devoid of context. Am I saying Islam doesn’t have some harsh aspects or that it mustn’t be criticized? No, I am not—neither am I here to proselytize or act as Islam’s resident apologist.

I’m saying this because over the four years I’ve been here at LGF, experience has taught me that when Islam or Muslims are mentioned in any context, the discussion often turns into a debate about Islam’s perceived defects/merits. Though there is a Muslim parent involved in this story, the topic of this Page is a very specific, very American issue related to our constitution’s separation of church & state, so I’d like to stick to that topic.

28 CuriousLurker  Apr 6, 2014 1:18:27pm

re: #26 palmerskiss

which is exactly why we should strive to behave better than they. That, because we know that is how they would approach this if it was a muslim group, is why we should tolerate non-proselytizing religious culture.

I agree, but I lack your patience with inflammatory rhetoric, so I just disengage.

29 CuriousLurker  Apr 6, 2014 1:24:59pm

re: #21 ObserverArt

Does that make sense? Or, does it make too much sense?

Probably too much. I’m not sure if that makes me want to laugh or cry.

re: #18 Ming

re: #23 Dark_Falcon

Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful responses.


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