Saturday, May 21, 2011

It’s all about moderation

Update: Hemant Mehta has posted about the business here and set up a scholarship fund for Damon. I think this is a good and thoughtful idea. It's been said that Damon's mother has disowned him because of his atheism, which is a terribly sad prospect if true. And - you'd have thought - unchristian.

PZ has a rather sad story here about a student, Damon Fowler, due to graduate from high school in Louisiana.  The law forbids the school from imposing prayers at this event, but the school planned to do so anyway.  Damon felt that the school should obey the law and shouldn’t creep out or alienate non-Christians with their magic spells.  The school had little choice but to obey the law and remove the prayer from the graduation.

Now the whole town hates Damon.  Here’s the story in his own words:

My graduation from high school is this Friday. I live in the Bible Belt of the United States. The school was going to perform a prayer at graduation, but due to me sending the superintendent an email stating it was against Louisiana state law and that I would be forced to contact the ACLU if they ignored me, they ceased it. The school backed down, but that's when the shitstorm rolled in. Everyone is trying to get it back in the ceremony now. I'm not worried about it, but everyone hates me... kind of worried about attending graduation now. It's attracted more hostility than I thought.

My reasoning behind it is that it's emotionally stressing on anyone who isn't Christian. No one else wanted to stand up for their constitutional right of having freedom of and FROM religion. I was also hoping to encourage other atheists to come out and be heard. I'm one of maybe three atheists in this town that I currently know of. One of the others is afraid to come out of the (atheist) closet.

Though I've caused my classmates to hate me, I feel like I've done the right thing. Regardless of their thoughts on it, basically saying I am ruining their fun and their lives, I feel like I've helped someone out there. I didn't do this for me or just atheists, but anyone who doesn't believe in their god that prayer to Yahweh may affect.

Moral of the story: though the opposition may be great, majority doesn't necessarily mean right. Thank you for reading. Wish me luck at graduation.

EDIT: Well, it hit the fan a couple hours ago. They've already assembled a group of supporters at a local church and called in the newspaper. I've had to deactivate my Facebook account and I can't reason with any of them. They refuse to listen. The whole town hates me, aside from a few closet atheists that are silently supporting, which I don't blame them looking at what I've incited here. Thanks for the support though.

If anyone would like to offer support, the superintendent is who I emailed and the school's website is mpsb.us

Thanks for the support. It's really helping. This has just gotten sickening.

Edit: I've had requests for my Facebook info... I don't mind giving that out at all. Damon Fowler - Bastrop, LA. I could use all of the support I can get. Not sure if this link will work:http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001146281052

As a Brit, it’s hard to believe that such things happen. It’s thankfully inconceivable in the UK.  It’s sometimes shocking to realise that what a country we have so much in common with sees as moderate, we see as completely batshit insane. 

There are several sinister parts to this story, from the school’s desire to force people to pray in the first place to the whole town’s ostracising Damon for disagreeing with them.  But the most sinister part is the reason people are angry.  Damon hasn’t stopped anyone from praying at the event.  Providing they’re not disruptive, anyone can pray as much as they want.  What they’re cross at is the forcing part.  They’re upset that they’re not allowed to insist that everyone is subjected to prayer.

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