A random quote from a fundamentalist, via FSTDT, on the evil stuff that happens in the dreaded and wretched Public Schools:

<blockquote>“Were your children sexually touched by a teacher or other students? If no, you were LUCKY, because these days many kids are being introduced to sex and being sexually molested at school by other kids and even sometimes teachers. You cannot trust a young child to be safe in schools.”
</blockquote> This, friends, is an example of what lack of critical thinking can do to you.

A challenge to fundamentalists: Please demonstrate that public schools are places where children get sexually harassed and molested regularly enough that people who don’t get part of that are considered “lucky”.

Go ahead, I’m waiting.

I mean, if it really is such a widespread problem, then surely it’s documented somewhere? Surely someone is doing something about it?

Not just by pulling children off the schools in question - of course, even that would be all over the news, surely - but actually, you know, try to do something about the problem within the schools themselves? Making the schools to not do that shit?

Because this sure as hell doesn’t sound like a problem that people would just try to silently put up with.

Here’s one thing I don’t understand about fundamentalist mindset. They assume that the outside world is evil and evil stuff is happening out there. And people are okay with all of the evil stuff, because they just don’t understand what true evil is. If they understood what true evil was, then obviously they’d do something about it. If they do not understand that Harry Potter is evil, then surely they will just shrug when people get murdered in front of their eyes. But once they understand the Satanic undertones of that evil video game Doom they heard about one day, they’ll start condemning the violence and child molestations.

Newsflash: people tend to raise eyebrows when vile stuff happens, even when they’re not Real True Christians.

Onward to more stupid quotes, which actually is kind of more interesting:

"Only mature Christians should spend a lot of time around unbelievers, when they are sharing the good news about Jesus or helping those in need. Sending a young child to an atheist/agnostic/wiccan/new age environment is not only dangerous, it's very likely to have a life long affect on that child's beliefs about Jesus. Children are being PROGRAMMED, and are not in a position to teach other children about Jesus, because sadly, there is more darkness in schools than there is light."

And here’s another odd thing I don’t get about fundamentalists.

Dear American Fundamentalists. Here in Finland, we have a Lutheran state church, which still seems to have strong following (even after recent jackassery which made them lose quite a few members - there’s a strong sentiment out there to fix the bad things). Here’s another detail that bloody well ought to fill you with dreadful envy: we also have actual religious classes on school, for children who are members of major religions of the country. There’s classes for Lutherans and Orthodoxes, not sure if there are other classes for other denominations if there’s demand for that. (Heck, for all I know, the dreaded Muslims might have their own classes somewhere even as we speak! I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it could happen!) If you’re not a church-goer, you get a class called “Ethics” (basically “Philosophy Lite”).

But here’s the funny thing: The religion classes don’t actually teach you to believe.

These classes inform about religion. That’s the purpose of a school: to inform people.

This is probably not what the fundies want to hear. They want the religious classes to teach you to believe. You just can’t tell people facts. They have to believe them too. You can’t just test whether they took the bait. You need to test whether they got it, hook, line and sinker.

And what do these classes actually teach you? Umm, it’s been a while since I was in the school, but they basically teach you the basic beliefs of your religion. How your local congregation works. What people do in the church and what the rites mean. Biblical history: Major tales from the Bible. What the heck Jesus did, what the early Christian church did and how it became a force to be reckoned with. And, of course, how did the religion influence the formation of the modern societies. You see, religion is linked with history and other way around - it’s impossible to discuss history without discussing such a major driving factor of the history.

But it gets worse, dear fundamentalists, in the latter years of study.

They teach you about world religions.

Yes. In the interests of informing people about the Lutheran Church, they need to discuss the other Christian denominations and how they differ from Lutheranism.

“Oh no!” I hear fundamentalists cry. “You cannot tell the children what the heretical offshoots of the One True Religion teach! There is but one true Christian truth! If the children are exposed to the perversions of the dogma, these vile heresies, they might start to question the dogma! Questioning leads to rationality, which is the greatest enemy faith has!”

No, dear fundamentalists, your days of horror are not over, for there are other religions besides Christianity that can be counted among “world religions”. When informing the children about the origins of Christianity, the children have run into a strange set of beliefs called “Judaism”, so obviously they have to be told what Jews actually believe in. Then there’s Islam, which, despite the fundamentalists’ claim to contrary, is also a very germane topic here; Islam has shaped the modern world in a big factor in the history of the world. And then there are all those Eastern religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, and so forth… They can’t be just shrugged off. Likewise, they’ve shaped the Far East. They’ve even shaped the Western world. They have interesting religious concepts that might not be that bad for you.

Oh, wait, that’s just some factuality rubbing on me. Damn.

And then there’s the dreaded thing: Yes, new religious movements are part of the curriculum. I can’t remember exactly what they taught about, say, Scientology. I think the most neutral thing they said was that Scientology had “several very expensive methods” of self-improvement. (Well, Scientology was already in the news around that time and I knew that there were something worse than just the financial costs involved, but that wasn’t in the course. But I trust people are usually afraid of something that is demonstrably very expensive.) I can’t remember if Neopagan/Wiccan views were discussed when I was a kid (they sure should have been), but I think we discussed Satanism at one point, mostly because the Satan Worshipping panic was in the news. (Which was basically drunk kids knocking over tombstones. Pathetic.)

And surprise surprise: I actually remember some actual facts about Satanism that were taught in the class. Not “they’re evil, stay away from them if you value your soul, that’s all you need to know”.

If there’s one thing that’s abundantly clear to me right now is that people can be abundantly productive with all sorts of curious beliefs. You apparently don’t need One True Faith to be happy. You apparently don’t need One True Faith to recognise bad things that should be avoided at all costs. People do it all over the world. …no, this is not what the fundamentalists want to hear. Of course not. It’s not the message they want the children to learn.

Okay, our religious classes have gone beyond what the fundamentalists actually want and left them as a quivering mess. What else did they teach? Could they possibly have something in store that was even worse than learning about differing worldviews?

Oh yes.

Some of the advanced religious classes - you know, last few years of school before university level - started to analyse problems that actual theologians need to tackle. You were, based on the the previous lessons, aware that the Christianity is divided on certain issues. These classes made it painfully and abundantly clear just how divided they are, and how they have attempted to solve all these strange questions.

They don’t want you to just look at the first chapters of Genesis. They want you to hear what the theologians have said about that stuff.

They want to tell you - and this is what will probably enrage the fundamentalists - that someone, somewhere, has actually thought about what the heck the Christian creation myth actually means.

Imagine that.

Someone has thought about the contents of the Bible.

They’re telling these young adults that people have looked at the Bible and failed to extract an One True Meaning. They’re telling there are actually several interpretations that churches seem to disagree about.

They’re telling these young adults might even have to use their brains to completely comprehend what the heck the Bible says.

They’re discussing things that theologians get mighty awkward about. No, they can’t tell you to unconditionally trust God. They have to drag out the mud. They have to point out that the age-old problem of the existence of Evil has strong implications, and several explanations. And it’s not said, but anyone can see there’s no explanation that’s flawless.

I’d like to leave the fundamentalists with an awkward thought, there. We have a public school subject that’s unable to provide conclusive answers to the students. Religion is like Philosophy, it’s bound to just confuse you, because it basically tells you that there are multiple ways to deal with a same ethical problem.

What the fundamentalists want to do is to put an end to that. They want the kids to have a final answer. Religious Answer from the One True Religion. The public education fundamentally cannot give that answer, because we know that issue is not answered yet - or that it could have multiple answers.

This is what the public education does. It teaches what we, as a society, know. Sometimes, the truths are ugly. Sometimes, the truth is that we don’t know the truth. You can’t just say “we have the truth, and the truth is this”, when the fact of the matter is that the truth is inconclusive.

These are not things the fundamentalists want to hear. They don’t want people to think about the fact that we just don’t know the fundamental philosophical or religious truths yet.