In Arkansas, You Can’t Spell “Graduation” Without G-O-D

From KAIT, an ABC affiliate in Jonesboro, AR (via Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, of all places):

It starts out in pretty standard fashion (skip if you’ve seen this before): the Riverside school district has been having prayer at sixth-grade graduation ceremonies for a while. This year, a parent complained, the ACLU sent a letter telling the district what’s what, the district dropped prayer from the school ceremony, and the parents coordinated with area churches to have ceremonies before and/or after the one at the school, complete with prayer and pot-luck lunch.

Ha-ha! Just kidding about that last part. I meant to say that the district decided to be dicks:

LAKE CITY, AR (KAIT)- The Riverside School district has decided not to have a 6th grade graduation this year after a parent protested against prayer during the ceremony.

Local mom Kelly Adams presents the case for allowing prayer:

“As Christians and a mainly Christian town I think, there were a lot of people hurt that our rights were taken away,” Adams said.

“My daughter graduated last year from 6th grade and my son is graduating this year from 6th grade, and we had a pastor open our ceremony and my daughter actually closed the ceremony in prayer,” she said.

So there you go: “We’re in the majority, and we’ve always done it this way. Checkmate, civil-libertistas!”

The current plan is now to pile dickery upon dickery and have the graduation ceremony at a church. Never mind the students and parents who aren’t Christians, because Jesus loves them too. Adams again:

“A lot of the parents, the Christian parents decided to get together and do it at the church,” she said.

“We're not trying to be pushy or ugly to anybody, we just want them to know there is a God who loves them,” she said.

Because when you’re recognizing students’ achievements and ushering them into the next phase of their education, you can’t possibly do that without also proselytizing to everyone. That’s just common sense!

Wait, I think I hear a small voice from the back, some rabbi from way back when:

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

That’s cute, but clearly this guy knows nothing about Christianity.

Fitna in Arkansas

Fitna is an Arabic word meaning something like “disorder” or “unrest”. It’s often used as a justification for women covering themselves up, by not tempting men into lustful thoughts and the depravity and civil unrest that are sure to follow.

Now, I’ve always found this argument rather insulting: it basically says that men are weak-willed, that the moment we see an exposed elbow, we’ll go into some testosterone-fueled frenzy, unable to think straight, stopping at nothing in our craving for sex.

In other contexts, this is not considered a virtue. If I walk past you with my new iPad 2 or whatever the hot toy du jour is, and you like it so much that you steal it from me, that makes you a thief who needs to learn some self-control.

Now, obviously it’s polite to refrain from drinking in front of an alcoholic, or smoking in front of someone who’s trying to quit, but as a rule, people should be expected to control their antisocial emotions (although there’s an interesting exception, that I keep hoping to write about).

So anyway, the reason I bring this up is because of the bus ads in Arkansas, which you’ve probably heard of by now: in brief, the Central Arkansas Coalition of Reason wanted to put some billboards on buses, saying “Are you good without God? Millions are.” The Central Arkansas Transit Authority had a fit, but decided that it couldn’t legally stop them. So instead, they demanded that the CoR pay a $36,000 deposit to insure against vandalism. As a person at the company that handles advertising put it,

“in reality, Arkansas is the buckle of the Bible Belt and I can easily envision zealots or upstanding citizens with a strong faith acting out.”

In other words, fitna. The transit authority and its advertising agency are afraid that the good people of Arkansas, once they see an atheist ad, will fly into a fury of vandalism and won’t be able to help themselves from keying the bus or slashing its tires.

Arkansans, is that really how you want to be seen? Unable to control your temper or play nice with others? Because if so, you may want to get a nice, modest gingham burqa to cover up your wimminfolk. I’m sure there’s someone out there who’ll be happy to sell you one.

Update Fri Jun 17 12:50 2011: Fixed broken HTML. HT alert reader Fez.